|This vintage edition allowed me to get Town Hall Tavern in L**ds ticked off
Five more pubs I visited either before I realised what BRAPA was going to become(!), or I just didn't believe they'd ever get in the Good Beer Guide. In any case, this is definitely the first time they've been in the GBG since at least 2014.
415. House of the Trembling Madness, York
Of course, living in York, I had to have done this one, especially as me & my mates visit the 100+ cask ale pubs in the City on a fairly rotational basis most Thursdays. Not sure when it opened, am guessing 2013, I know my first visit was before September in that year. I was definitely there on 20th Feb 2014 when the first seeds of BRAPA were forming in my delicate brain. Many love it, I've never been a huge fan (this pub, not BRAPA!), but that is usually due to how busy, hipstery and full of lapsed vegans it is. 'House of Pretentiousness' is what me and friends call it. But let's be fair. It is actually a superb little warp beamed ancient upstairs bar above a bottle shop with good atmos. Oh the shop, where the staff are proper snobs (my friend once witnessed a lady asking for help choosing a beer for her husband. She only knew he liked Hobgoblin, so wanted a similar style. She was told to stop wasting their time and piss off to one of the little local supermarkets nearby). The thing I remember about my first visit is opening a box on the wall and a big fluffy spider popping out. There's lots of stuffed animal heads on the walls. Place smells of meaty foodstuffs and it's quite mouth watering! There's usually 2 cask ales on, good quality, it's more craft n bottles n cans really but often, the two ales have both been over 6% which isn't a nice choice on a 'school night'! Quite often you see people queuing downstairs, waiting for someone to leave. No way I'd do that, so it's off to Three Cranes for a pint of Tetley's. Back in 2015, we heard it was closing in Oct '18 and moving to a bigger premises, which sure enough opened on Lendal. Nowhere near the same atmos of the original, even poncier (I did that as a pre-emptive a few months back) so was amazed when it was the supposedly soon to be closed original that made the GBG! I had a job explaining this to my fellow pub tickers who I think thought I was making the whole thing up! Bad enough Adlington has two Spinners Arms. It's still open as far as I know, something must've changed, or it the power of a CAMRA GBG entry keeping them alive? Hmmmmmmmm. Whatever, I know a dude called Mark T who has had 612 drinks here!
416. Eagle & Child, York
Staying in my home city, and if I was surprised to see HOTTM in the Guide, my jaw positively hit the floor when this Leeds brewery pub made its debut in the 2019 edition. First visit on 2nd Dec 2015 was easily the best. I left my wallet at home (that wasn't the reason) so I had to lurk around til my friends arrived. The bar was far too tall for a short ass like me but stood on tip toes and got this amazing pint of Ginger Marmalade from the infuriatingly great Brass Castle, served by this incredible barmaid, the likes of which I've not seen in York before or since. We went upstairs, it was all very nice. But with each of our next half dozen visits, it has somehow got worse each time. Not meaning the ale, that is always good quality (Good Beer Guide eh, clue in the name!) but the upstairs rooms are ALWAYS ALL RESERVED. And the nice side bar I used originally, they just stopped serving people at it til I finally complained "why have it if you don't serve people at it?" and last time, it had miraculously vanished. Power of BRAPA? Coincidence? Oh, and the door is stupid cos you get stuck half way in it, never known a pub door like it. I think HOTTM is a wonderful pub by comparison, now I think about it!
417. Town Hall Tavern, Leeds
The first GBG I can see this in in my 'era' is 2005 so am guessing about Oct 2004 for my first visit here (I'll have gone to L**ds Waterstones one lunchtime, and seen it whilst browsing). I used to do this thing called the LLAC (Leeds Lunchtime Ale Challenge) where I took a couple of work colleagues to a L**ds pub on lunchtime, funnily enough. There was an LEAC evening version but it never caught on. I remember coming here on a sunny lunchtime with a bloke called Mark Dobson and a lass called KFK who never seemed to warm to me, but the feeling was mutual. It was full of oldies smoking and chatting to us, and I think Tetleys or Timmy Taylor Landlord was all you could get. I remember coming in here with the good John Watson, who'd travelled over one evening from York probably later that winter for an ale crawl (we didn't call it LEAC though) and think we enjoyed it though v.smoky again. I think it became very Tim Taylor after that, can remember seeing the full range. It had lots of L**ds decor including the rugby and football (spit!) team. So I was very amused when I'd forgotten all about it for a bit and then in about 2010 I heard a team at work had their Christmas do here! Those who'd known it before weren't impressed, said it was all dining led, food not great, atmos gone. I think I did pop back in sometime in last 10 years but can't really remember. Time for a re-visit I suspect? Have they made it pubby again? We'll see.
418. Beehive, Carlisle
In that difficult period of my existence when I'd started going to Hull City away games regularly, wanted a pre-match pint, but had no idea what any of the pubs were like (partly because I didn't know the Good Beer Guide existed), me and Dad came to Carlisle a few times, parked on the road between Brunton Park and this fairly chunky pub, and went in mainly cos it seemed near to the ground and didn't look totally terrifying! I see it is Greene King, Marstonsy and Sky Sportsy now, and that is sort of how I remember it then. I was a Guinness drinker when I first came in back on April Fools Day 2000. A lucky pub perhaps as Hull City won 4-0. A year later, 5th May 2001 we came back to Carlisle for a pointless end of season goalless draw with the good John Watson, did we come to the pub this day too? I can't remember. It was my final visit, 25th August 2001 (another 0-0) I remember best as we'd stopped (Appleby, not Richie?) for an Omlette on the way (such novices back then) in this dodgy cafe with weird staff and by the outskirts of Carlisle, I'd puked everywhere! I practically crawled into the pub, a nice pint of Guinness sorted me out, and then Dad who'd been ok started making these crazy gurgling noises from his gut and went pale, I remember moving the huge pub menus away to under the table so he didn't have to look at images of chips and steak! Then he put his head on the table, I said 'there there' and went off for another Guinness. What great days.
419. Skinners Arms, St Pancras, London
From 'feeling faint and having pains in the pancreas' to St Pancras. Seamless link. The date was 14th April 2012 and me, Dad and Tom (and possibly Ben and Christine) were coming back from an away 1-1 draw at tWatford which may have been a lunchtime kick off(?) for some post match refreshment in London (no point looking for ale in Watford is there? Well there wasn't then anyway). The complication was that BOTH Liverpool and Everton were in the city for an FA Cup Semi final. On the way out of Vicarage Road, Tom had asked a yellow shirted bloke the score and he'd said Everton had won. So we tried the Bree Louise but there were people spilling out like Euston puke, so we turned back away towards Kings Cross and found this place down a side street. We congratulated a Toffeeperson at the bar who looked a bit confused, and then we retired to a booth in the far corner which was showing highlights of said Semi Final. And then it became clear Liverpool had actually won right at the end, ooops, but I remember thinking quite a nice smart cosy pub, better than many divey rubbish we'd been to in this area!
So there we go for another year. Hard to think the 2020 GBG will through up any pubs which make me think 'hang on, I've not written about that bunch before!' but I thought exactly the same thing about this edition so who knows what surprises we'll have in store. Roll on September (sort of).