Friday 30 November 2018

BRAPA : The Archives (From Derby to Cowdenbeath so deal with it)

This is a blog I've been meaning to write since the 2019 Good Beer Guide arrived in my possession, criminally late in Mid September (hashtag never forget).

I've managed to identify ten pubs I've been to which have made the current GBG, but weren't in 2015-2018, so I've never had a chance to write about them before.  So most likely, I visited these before "BRAPA" was officially a thing, those simple days where I just went to pubs, ordered beer and sat there without too many thoughts in my head!   Doubt I'll have many photos but I'll have a look.

410.  Olde Dolphin Inne, Derby

'Twas 10th Feb 2007, and me and Dad were in Derby early looking for an early opener before we went to our new 'go to' pub the Flowerpot which had so impressed us the previous season.  We went into this multi-roomed creaky old gem which I'd heard about from ghostly Derby legend Richard Felix.  The atmosphere was astounding, even before 11am with just a few smoking flat capped old buggers (oh, and my youthful Dad) for company.  Not sure what room we got in, but a bit like Olde Trip to Jerusalem in Nottingham, I've never been able to locate the brilliant first room on either of my other two visits, and the pub hasn't seemed quite as good.  In those days, I thought a large range of unusual sounding ales was key to a good pub, but of course, I hadn't been radicalised by the BBOT (Bass Blokes of Twitter) back then, so doubtful I had Bass, probably had Greene King Abbot and moaned.  My overriding memory though was a kind of weird sense that even if the apocalypse came now and destroyed all life, this pub would somehow remain protected from it all.  I picked up a flyer from a man calling himself the "Soul Toucher" but he wasn't getting near my soul.  Been back in twice since, and its been a bit of a touristy nothingness, proof you should only do a pub once!

411.  Honest Lawyer, Scunthorpe

5th Feb 2011 and it was time for that most terrifying day in the football season, Scunny away.  Me and Dad had put this pub off for years, thinking it was too far to the ground but this season, Tom convinced us otherwise.  Most of our Hull City friends are North Lincs based, and the view at that time was that the beer was unreliable here, but COULD be good.  Well, with the added hospitality of Scunny fans Lizzy and Colin, along with an extra nervous Ben & Christine, me and Dad ended up declaring it pub of the year as beers were ace, company fantastic, we simply couldn't believe this pub didn't always deliver!  I remember it feeling a bit like a pre-cursor to a micropub, quite narrow with bar in awkward place, opening up a bit into a kind of cafe bar feel in the back, but 7.5 years is a long time in pub ticking.  We then went to the Berkeley which I also enjoyed.  Then something weird happened and Hull City won 5-1.  And on the way back, me and Dad got same train north as Lizzy and proving what a good sport she is, she helped us recreate our 5 goals (and presumably Joe Garner's consolation) in the aisles!  I miss Hull City days like this.

412.  Hole in the Wall, Waterloo, London

You might recognise the photo, as I put it in that weird "BRAPA from the vaults" feature I did last year, so I obviously thought this pub would never make the GBG again.  We'd travelled down to Portsmouth on the icy cold morning of 4th Feb 2012, I had man-flu, this was also my first proper trip out with a 'smartphone'.  By Havant, the news came through match postponed.  But even though BRAPA was still over 2 years away, me, Tom and Dad just laughed and said we could have a nice pub day, and a visit to HMS Victory.  Back in London, the snow was starting to fall quite heavily so we popped in this place just across from the station.  It was a bit chaotic, touristy, the beer was pretty unspectacular and very London, but we had a nice time.  Problem was, back at Kings Cross, trains back North were chaos and the snow was so bad, we got back about 2am, could barely walk in it, and Dad had to stay over at mine cos snow drifts stopped him getting home.  Epic day out.

Me and Tom enjoying some pre-snow drinks in Hole in the Wall

The stairs up to my flat when we finally got back home!

413.  Peveril of the Peak, Manchester

11th September, or 9th November as those silly Americans seem to think it is called, will always be remembered as a sad day in history, but from a personal point of view, and my good friend John Watson II can attest to this, it is the 2008 version which is saddest.  We were finally about to see the amazing Stray Cats in Manchester, only for the drummer to break his arm in Brixton the night before  and it was cancelled.  NOOOOOO, we didn't realise til we got there.  But the silver lining of this rockabilly cloud of despair was that John, who'd got lost earlier trying to find me in Lass O'Gowrie, had stumbled upon some rather great pubs so with plenty time on our hands til the 11:30pm train back to York, we decided to make the most of it.  This was the most amazing, and still is, gorgeous green tiling and weird triangular shape, and you even feel it inside when you are sat in certain side rooms of this heritage gem.  We got chatting to these brothers (I think) bit Gallagher-esque, but one was a Man City fan and one was a Man Utd fan.  Even though Man Utd were the far stronger team then, the Man Utd fan was the nice humble one and the City fan a bit annoying.   Been in here a 3 or 4 times now, and always felt the beer should be better than it is, always seem to have this image of 3 handpumps at weird angles, two have Tim Taylor Landlord on!  May explain why not a GBG regular, cos it really needs to be, a cracker.  Though, and I feel bad almost saying it, I actually prefer Britons Protection over the road, but only just.  

414.  Woodside Hotel, Cowdenbeath

14th November 2009.  For a short time in my 'what to do on a Saturday that involves pubs in the Good Beer Guide?' I decided I was going to visit every football league ground in Scotland.  I ended up doing Berwick, Queens Park, Clyde and here, so it didn't last long!  And if any Scottish town is going to scare you off, it is Cowdenbeath.  Wow.  Sort of brilliant.  "FEE FI FO FUM, I SMELL THE BLOOD OF AN ENGLISHMAN!" boomed a pisshead at 10am as me and my friend Chris 'Krzbi' Britain walked into our first pub of the day, the New Goth and ordered some yummy Tennants filth. Luckily the barmaid was from the Selby area, so at least Krzb could bond with her over some local plane crash from the past! The one town cash machine was out of service, and people were proper kicking off.  We went to 3 or 4 more pubs, most of which we'd researched on BeerintheEvening, but this one was actually in the GBG.  Was great to get a pint of ale after all that flavourless fizz, that Schallallion I think we had (I can't spell it) I think we had, but it was a pretty crappy unfriendly place with a pool table blocking most of the space and a terrible seating plan that didn't work.  In fact, the pre-match club house was probably the best!  Then we combined Irn Bru and Bovril, Dumbarton scored, a visiting fan celebrated, a local called him a very rude word, and that was that!   

Krzb's Blue Brazil club bar check in from back in the day!

Four or five more pubs to tell you about in part two ..... betcha can't wait!



  1. Replies
    1. Good! I'm looking at part 2 now if I can be bothered.

  2. "and sat there without too many thoughts in my head!"

    That much at least hasn't changed. ;)

    "'Twas 10th Feb 2007"

    Crikey. I was still living in Edmonton back then. (oh, and that was my youngest's 19th birthday).

    "(oh, and my youthful Dad) "


    "proof you should only do a pub once!"

    I say, steady on!

    "me and Dad ended up declaring it pub of the year as beers were ace, company fantastic,"

    Having good company will do that to a review. :)

    "on the icy cold morning of 4th Feb 2012, "

    I believe that was the day our car was totalled (luckily we weren't in it, or unloading out of the back of it!).

    "this was also my first proper trip out with a 'smartphone'. "

    Did it start the tradition of dying on you? :)

    "The stairs up to my flat when we finally got back home!"

    Pfft! This is snow!

    "May explain why not a GBG regular, cos it really needs to be, a cracker. "

    I definitely remember seeing it on one of the other blogs.

    "And if any Scottish town is going to scare you off, it is Cowdenbeath."

    Talk about No Man's Land!

    "Then we combined Irn Bru and Bovril, "

    You should patent that. :)

    "betcha can't wait!"

    In your own good time lad. :)


  3. Always found the Peveril very variable in terms of beer quality. Not been in the Britons across the road for a while, but that too had its ups and downs on that front. I think their classic status is more to do with their architecture, history and atmosphere than anything else. I'd probably be more likely to go in Lees' Rain Bar a bit further along the same road now if I just wanted a decent pint.

    1. Cheers Matt, I think you are right re beer quality, otherwise a pub of such architecture etc. would surely have been in a GBG between 2014-2019, but it wasn't. Finally saw your comment cos looking at writing part 2! I did Rain Bar on same day, it didn't wow me but Fri night crowd n all that didn't help!