Friday 2 August 2019

BRAPA - AUGUST PREVIEW / JULY REVIEW (2019) : The Business End of the Season

Thanks to M.Lawrenson for this :)


Hi!  Just as the English football season is starting this weekend, we are approaching end point 'squeaky bum time' in the world of the pub-ticker, with the 2020 Good Beer Guide likely to arrive late August / early September for those who have signed up for the 'GBG Privilege Scheme' meaning you get your copy a couple of weeks before the release date.  Unless of course we have some absolute TWAMRA eff up like the 'Great Printing Disaster' of 2018, which meant us poor 'privileged' lot had to wait til mid September like mere mortals. 

And then begins the great 'cross ticking' exercise, where you just hope there hasn't been to much damage done in terms of 'churn' (that is, pubs departing the Guide which you have visited, only to be replaced by a whole host of new entries).   I love and hate that late Aug-mid Sept time of the year in equal measures.  Oh, and you have to be careful NOT to reveal the contents til official release date for added mild peril. 

Pulling a Cross-Ticking All Nighter, BRAPA Towers, Sept '18

But all you can do in the month of August is crack on, maybe field a few youngsters and reserves, but make sure it looks like you are still approaching the challenge with the same relish you did the previous September!


And it has already started well in BRAPA-land, SIX ticks and a pre-emptive on 1st Aug in South East London.  Four of these were very good, one quite good, two were quite bad. 

Quirky locals in the Imperial Arms, Chislehurst 

Tomorrow (3rd), a huge landmark as I aim to COMPLETE lovely Derbyshire in full with my final three pubs.  Never say never, unexpected closures always have to be in the back of any 'tickers' mind.   I will miss Derbyshire, perhaps the best county I've ticked in terms of quality in my five years to date.  I've even discovered this incredible new beer, but don't tell anyone ..... they call it 'Bass' like a fish or a guitar.  So moreish.  The logo is a red triangle.  Who thinks up this shit?  Crazy I know!

It doesn't make sense to me to start a 'brand new' county (which will be Cumbria) until the new GBG arrives, so I'm going to use 10th, 24th and various Friday evenings to see how much of 'Greater Manchester' I can get done. I've visited 127, so surely there can't be too many more!  Yet somehow, there are.  And why is it, that whenever I'm ready to finally do Strines, something comes up?  Flooding this time, but at least I could maybe get a boat and do a 'I Don't Give a Dam' blog pun.  Too soon?

Last time I got a boat to a BRAPA pub.  Fowey to Bodinnick, Jul '17

The 17th sees a return to Hull City fun with BRAPA legends Dad, Tom and Ben as we go to Brentford.  I'm scaling back my Hull City away days this year.  It has become a bit of a noose around my neck re BRAPA, it isn't a fun club to support at the moment under the current regime, so selecting one fixture a month to designate for days like this.  Tom has of course, come up with a pub plan already which has been 'verified' by the BRAPA board of selectors (i.e. me).

Outdoor drinking in Hull's beautiful old town - New Year's Day 2019

By Sat 31st, the new GBG might be with me, but whatever, Dad and I are looking at kicking off County Durham for those 'away days' we don't go to. 


35 new pubs in the month of July was more than I could have hoped at the start so I'm really pleased.  I genuinely thought mid twenties was about as good as it'd get, but I pushed myself to do every Friday night available, REALLY pushed myself in Burton Upon Trent, and managed a bonus six pub London trip on 31st which was quite unexpected. 

REALLY pushing myself (final time for this photo, promise)
Okay, so I cannot complete with Martin Taylor who achieved an incredible 69, due to the help of the wonderful Devon.  That sentence sounded a bit Judge Dread didn't it?  Ayaya!  Reggae!

The month started in a quite dreadful pub called Thorn Tree in Ripley, and ended in a particularly dull micropub called Hackney Carriage in Sidcup where a heinous crime against BRAPA occurred which I'll tell you all about soon.  But in between, there were plenty of classy moments......

Never give a man from Sidcup your green highlighter pen

Devonshire Arms in South Normanton deserves a special 'one of the most insane' pubs of the year award, partly due to the pissing on a remote control story.  But I love pubs with life.  Even if the beer is dross, which sadly it was here.

Days in Lincs and North Yorks didn't really hit the heights, though Elm Cottage (Gainsborough), Bay Horse (Pickering) and Bay Horse (Burythorpe) did impress me. 

Gainsborough is a terrible town but Elm Cottage was nice, and good day out with Welly Gang.
It was all about my crazy 8 (or was it 9) pub day in South Derbys where pretty much any of these pubs could be contenders.  Elms Inn in Burton was perhaps my overall favourite (for day and month), but Cooper's Tavern lived up to the hype, and those at Hartshorne, Newton Solney, Lullington and Coton-in-the-Elms were all special places. 

Bass and Cricket at Hartshorne's Admiral Rodney Inn.  A great moment in the month of July.

The Shoulder of Mutton in Shirland also needs to be added to the Derbyshire list of 'pubs what make the county great'!

But the WORST pub of the month as to be the New Inn at Newton, what an absolute disaster of whatever attempted refurb this undoubtedly once traditional local had undergone.  It made me quite angry.  Even if the beer was excellent!

Newark had it's moments (Fox & Crown, Organ Grinder and Flying Circus all good I thought), but the day got every bit as messy as Burton - look out for that blog, as I nearly got arrested at the end!

And then, as I said, it ended in London where Robin Hood & Little John in Bexleyheath was a little jewel in an otherwise fairly sticky Wetherspoon crown, and Broken Drum in Blackfen, an example of a micropub 'getting it right' thanks to a great owner.

Now, it is all about putting as much distance between that 1500 pub mark (I'm currently on 1712) as I'd just be so demoralised if I dropped back below this after the 'cross ticking' when the new GBG appears.  I lost approx 180 last year, so perhaps about 200 this time?  Ouch anyway!

Thanks for reading and keep on pubbing,



  1. How can you have done all those pubs and only managed 35? Can you count like?

    Surely you get 6 for every 5 in Lincs?

    1. I know, I feel like I mentioned more than 35 in this review alone!

      Yes, perhaps new rule should actually be 5 pub ticks for every 1 in Lincs because that is the only way to justify what I've seen of the county so far in general, perhaps it'll improve when I get into t'sticks?!

  2. You really hit the nail on the head this month. Burton and Derbyshire at two fabulous places. Coopers and Shoulder of Mutton are classic pubs. As usual you are spot on. Great stuff.

    1. Cheers Dave, glad you liked them. Kind of wants me to crack on with Notts n Staffs and pretend Cumbria doesn't exist, but I've been avoiding it for far too long.

  3. Are we going to see you in Stockport then? I think you still have a few to do here. By the way you can pass on Strines as the Sportsman is currently closed and awaiting a new owner.

    1. Hi John, am gonna do an October day called 'Stocktober' where I finish Stockport one Saturday which might also be the last in GMR if all goes well. I'll of course, invite you and the other Stockport gang to join me once I've got a proper agenda mapped out. Thanks re Strines, I take it it won't be in the 2020 GBG then, but you don't have to answer that?!

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