Monday 29 July 2019

BRAPA has .... Gone For a Burton (like, REALLY Gone!)

No words are really needed for the third and final leg of pubbing on Sat 20th July 2019.  I could just show you this photo, with no caption required ...........

But I've got to at least try to do Burton-Upon-Trent justice, my third pubby visit here.  It never fails, a nice tribute to it's beery heritage, and even after tonight, I went away with two new recommendations.  So I will be back, unless I'm barred from the town of course.

Having just completed the superb Elms Inn out Stapenhill way, I was in jubilant if slightly worse for wear mood as I walked across town to the Travelodge by the railway station, to dump the heaviest of my luggage, downing a quick bottle of water, and walk back from where I'd come from where my two remaining Burton pub ticks were.

Of course, I'd normally have called it a night by now but the late Lullington opener (let's not contemplate the wedding meaning the pub may've been actually open all day!) had forced my hand, and I felt that I could only justify the overnight stop if I pushed through the pain barrier, to do something I'd decided to call 'BRAPA After Hours'.

As I stepped up to the first pub, a bouncer was stood at the door (typical bouncer behaviour) staring at me inquisitively as I stepped up to take the photo, at what I hoped was a safe distance ......

He eyed me up and down, a mixture of pity and disgust, but I tried my sweetest toothy drunken smile and he said 'alright pal' and moved to let me in.  So here I was, the Crossing, Burton Upon Trent (1696 / 2669) and as per the 'bouncer presentiment', I found a loud, bright, 'drinks before clubbing' type environment, which means I didn't enjoy it as much as I may have done had I visited on a damp Tuesday afternoon in November.  It felt a bit like one of those crafty modern pizza emporiums, a London version.  An army of staff buzzed around and I was somehow still surprised to see Bass on, and a very pleasant barmaid pulled me a pint of it, which again I enjoyed very much, my 5th Bass today in 7 pubs!  Scroll down to the picture of the poor young lady  (reminiscent of A.B. in Eagle & Child in Whitefield a couple of years back, I didn't mean to take photo as was trying to take a selfie of me with some weird photo/mirror behind me but don't expect you to believe that!). But her expression is instructive, as it is symptomatic of how the whole pub viewed me, as I shambled over to a table with rucksack, quite worse for wear.  Problem is, I was coming towards the end of a heavy day.  These guys were all young, vibrant, only just getting started.  I fitted in here about as well as Megan Rapinoe trying to park her car on the narrow streets outside the Falstaff, Derby.  Also, everyone wore yellow, a nice nod to the local football team.  A large space seemed to form around me, I was given a wide berth.  That bottle of water I'd downed hadn't made much difference!  But Bass is more sobering anyway, I lied to myself.

I continued to search for a former clarity as I approached my 'final' pub of the day, as I knew how highly anticipated and well thought of this next pub was and it deserved my full concentration!

And this pub was much more in-keeping with my general feel, and quite the opposite to the Crossing.  Yes, Coopers Tavern (1697 /2670) to my relief had a real 'winding down towards last orders' vibe, customers were scattered across the pub, behind various walls, through archways, tucked into nooks and crannies, laughing, gargling, the odd strangulated cry.  I guess it was a bit like being in a haunted house.  I just had enough wits about me to notice Bass was on here too, but in barrels like in the Seven Stars at Falmouth.  But unlike there, the staff here smiled warmly, looked at me with a sympathy I probably didn't deserve, for I was trying my best to hold it together.  Joules beers also featured prominently, 'that's weird' I thought, but then remembered I was in Staffs so probably made sense.  I don't mind Joules, but you'd never get it over a Bassie, surely?  I perched on this barrel like table and staff laugh n joked in that kind of 'last orders / another job well done' mood.  Under other circs, I'd have conversation snippets for you as I remember them being quirky.  I was in restless mood so kept taking my Bass for a walk around the pub, a little bit too timid to go into any of the rooms where the shrieks and gargles were coming from, but at least I had just enough in the tank to realise I was in yet another of Burton's special pubs.

Some evil person on Twitter had alerted me to a non GBG pub called the Devonshire Arms and being an impressionable drunk, I said if I saw it, I'd give it a try, despite it being 10:55pm by now.  A man of my word, I was almost annoyed when it loomed large out of the night sky like a giant creamy sex pest ......

I was half hoping the friendly baldie would turn me away (due to 'last orders' or being too drunk, I didn't really mind which) but he served me with a friendly gusto as enthusiastic as any staff member had displayed all day.  I ordered a beer called 'Ale of Two Cities', that much I can remember by zooming in on below pic, thus breaking my amazing Bass run which I doubt'll ever be beaten in BRAPA history.  Yes, from nine pubs, I'd had 6 pints of Bass.  Only Melbourne, Newton Solney and here didn't have it on.  Nice to have a change. I got a bit upset with the Purity beermats which were a silly shape.   I vaguely remember thinking 'yes, good recommendation, really nice pub, says a lot for standard of Burton that it ain't in the GBG' but a third of the way down my pint, I finally 'hit the wall'.  Next thing I know, I'm slyly taking my pint for a walk to the gents, where I tipped the next third down the urinal!  I walked back, smiling, past the remaining customers, trying to make it look like I'd just wanted a nice big swig while I'll pissed, pretty sure they weren't that gullible, and then drank the final third of this enjoyable 'pint' with a new found love!  Think I'm going to need to come back here, and if it does make the 2020 GBG, I won't be highlighting this in green 'just' yet.

Well, the hangover wasn't too bad - just extreme tiredness hit by the time I was delayed at Doncaster.  I'd slept incredibly well with a loud fan right next to my face on full blast, though I accidentally left the TV on til 5am.

But I am already plotting a 2020 return to Burton, whether it be with Dad, Tom n co, work friends or something else.  As well as doing the Devonshire again, I also saw a cute little place by the Travelodge called Weighbridge which is rejuvenated and gaining good reviews.  And in modern terms, I passed a good looking pre-emptive called Brews of the World(?) which must be a good shout, it can't be as dull as Last Heretic can it?  Ooops, did I say that out loud?  Anyway, I may also need to give Coopers another go, obviously the Dog Inn is one of the best, I'd love to take Dad to the Elms.  And don't forget my understated fave, the Derby Inn, which no one ever seems to mention but I absolutely loved before the Hull City game a few back.

Plenty to think about, but believe the hype, any pub lover has gotta love Burton.



  1. Oh, how we laughed when we saw that first photo on Twitter.

    We've all been there, Si. 10:55pm and you fall in a pub, secretly hoping they won't serve you as you may end up not recognising your Travelodge. Just don't do it every night or you'll never reach "G" and you wouldn't want to die without doing "G", would you ?

    Did I miss Megan in this one ?

    1. I bet you did. Poor drunk Si.

      YES, see Crossing review for M.R. reference.

      After the ending to this and Newark, I vow to be sensible for rest of the year.

  2. Hi Simon, just testing to see if the blog will allow me to comment these days...

  3. Oh great, it worked! This is Mark Crilley, don't know why it's posting me as "Unknown."

    Anyway, loved this blogpost, especially the line "laughing, gargling, the odd strangulated cry"-- BRAPA poetry at its finest. Thanks for all you do, Simon. It can never be appreciated enough!

    1. Heyyy Mark! Great you can finally do comments. Guess you need some Google Account or something now, who knows? Thanks so much, really try n leave no stone unturned in these flippin' blogs in case they are unearthed in 500 years time when pubs no longer exist or something ;)

  4. The Cooper's Tavern is owned by Joule's, hence the presence of their beers. But I wonder how much they sell compared with Bass...

  5. I do not think my comment send from my phone was succesful, so...

    When Dave, Paul and I enjoyed Burton, a young man from a nearby town joined us. He did not know Cooper's existed!

  6. "I fitted in here as well as Megan Rapinoe parking her car outside the Falstaff"

    One of the great lines in English literature.