Good morning friends,
29th October 2020, and as church bells peal, songbirds tweet and toast is buttered with added gusto across this fair isle, the GBG embargo shackles are shaken off like aching morning muscles given a good workout by Mad Lizzie (remember her?) The cross-ticking is complete, the damage has been assessed, so here is the BRAPA verdict.
The Maths Bit
I declared on 1901 pubs visited from the 2020 Good Beer Guide, you'll remember this cos I kept pushing around that Queen Victoria death date joke.
After the cross ticking, which took approximately 4 days, a new BRAPA record, not to mention a trip to South Essex, and a couple of late stragglers which nearly evaded my attention, I've dropped 195 pubs to 1706. This is a drop of just over 10%, which is actually one of the most encouraging, least 'churnable' drops I've had in years.
I normally lose in the region of 12-13% so I'm seeing this as a victory. You'd think the more pubs I visit year on year, the greater the percentage loss would be, so this is even more surprising.
Could this be due to lower churn? I'm not convinced, on hearing the thoughts of the pub tickers who are further on with their challenge. No, I actually think that now I'm building up a more solid base of pubs that have been in ANY Good Beer Guide. 3133 of these. So some which missed the 2020 edition, but I visited in past years, have returned to this latest GBG.
Make no mistake though, I have suffered from the mid March to early July period of zero pubs visited. In one respect, I've gone backwards. Slightly. I'll be visiting my 1707th - 1743rd pubs for a THIRD time. To give you an example, pub 1707 has previously been the Broken Drum in Blackfen on 31st July 2019 AND the Bar Stewards, Sheffield 31st Jan 2020. It will probably be something else 31st October 2020. Depressing when you look at it like that.
On the whole though, few complaints in the context of this most unusual year we're unlikely to forget!
It is hard this year to make any grand proclamations on the areas I will be focusing on, at what dates etc. as the local/national restrictions could change at any given moment.
The saddest thing about the lockdown BRAPA-wise was that my quest to complete Cumbria was quickly curtailed. And now it's just got that little bit harder! I got Tyne & Wear done, I got very close with Durham too. Ideally, I feel I've got "unfinished business" and would like to get Cumbria and Durham totally 'greened' off with the superior Stablio, before next summer comes around.
However, Essex is my new baby. And what a chirpy little chap he is. Starting south, working north, this is my immediate quest. Pint of ESB in the Parcel Yard at the end of every trip? Not an official rule, but it could be. If I can get to the "Si, Colin, good evening, pint of the usual is it?" stage, I'd be well chuffed in a place like that.
Hants, Surrey & London would also give me enormous satisfaction to complete, having been making a good push on these in recent months.
Meanwhile, the advent of the new GBG means plenty of new 'low hanging fruit' closer to home, stuff you can pop to quite easily on an evening train or bus, or say "Daaaaaad, please can you drive me to that little village outside York, it won't take long, you'll be mentioned in the dispatches?"
THE GOOD, THE BAD & THE FURRY
So whilst cross ticking, some counties are kinder to you than others.
On the plus side, County Durham. Feels like almost every village pub Dad has driven me too in recent months remains in the Guide, so the chauffeuring wasn't in vain. Well done Durham, I salute you. My few remaining gaps are generally in 'easy to get to' places with rail links, or at least a decent bus service.
On the negative side, Surrey. Remember how hard I worked at it late July/early August? 51 pubs in 9 days, 90 miles walked. Went back. Increased total to 61. Only Caterham I didn't get chance attempt. A handful either shut or had no room to accommodate me. And for what? 17 of them have been 'de-guided'. Cruel. Down to 44. Loads of new rural things, and Caterham remains, as do all those I couldn't get in to. Boo Surrey, boo.
And what about Central London? A 'county' I often complete in full quite easily, there seems to be loads of new entries this year! Many of them proper old pubs, so that's something. But being in the City, many don't open Saturday or Sunday so now I have to take time off work just for flippin' London. Boo London, boo.
HONOUR ROLL CALL
On a happier, Brappier note to finish with, I always smile during my cross-ticking when I notice a pub I've visited, either as a pre-emptive, or even more rarely, a pub I did long ago that hasn't been in since BRAPA became a thing in 2014.
Let us honour those pubs now ......
VISITED LONG AGO :
Globe, Luton (Did it in 2005 before a Hull City away game with Dad, was heaving with Luton fans, another GBG pub was closed same day so everyone piled in here, felt very community based).
Orchard Inn, Spike Island, Bristol (Was all about the cider and scotch eggs here but they did ale, came here two or three times circa 2010 before football as close to Ashton Gate, including a long session on my birthday and on Hallowe'en. Took huge chunks out of my leg falling on the plastic away seating two seasons running, I blame this pub).
Swan & Railway, Wigan (Came here alone before a shock league cup win, Aug 2007, remember it well. Lovely ornate place, but then the 'Goole-igans' spotted me, and invited me to drink with them in the other bar. Gave me a lift in their van to the ground, rest is blurry history!)
Dr Duncan's Liverpool (Came here on one of first ever Hull City trips to Liverpool, was really good. They sold Cain's beer, I've still got a beermat I picked up at time! Went following year, lost its magic and toilets disgusting. Tried third time, and it had closed down. So nice to see it back).
Bridge Hotel, Durham (First pub of the day when I came up to Durham to meet my mate John on 3rd Sept 2011, then we did some classics I'd done before like Elm Tree, Victoria, and ended at Head of Steam which was also a pub which would make future GBG's. Wasn't even on my spreadsheet til I saw it in the 2021 edition).
PRE-EMPTIVES COME GOOD ......
Factory Tap, Kendal (Was staying in Kendal, two random strangers recommended it the previous night, gave it a try, and it came off!)
Masons Yard 24, Kendal (Same holiday, this was a post-emptive. I staggered past it late at night when pubs were open at 11pm, recognised name from a previous GBG, thought why not, I'm only a bit very drunk, and it's come to fruition).
What's Your Poison? Alfreton (Whilst completing Derbyshire on Friday evenings after work a couple of summer's back, Alfreton was often the GBG-less base for more rural ticks. With time to kill between a bus and train, I looked up local micros, came here, had something pale in a Bass glass, very wrong, but it made the cut, Hurrah!)
Beer Seller, Tonbridge (Big thanks to friend of the blog Jon C who lives locally, saw I was in the area, and told me he'd meet me here if I liked. We did, and it was one of the more impressive pubs of the day).
Angel, Stockport (Big thanks to the Stockport crew last October for recommending this as I needed a bonus non GBG pub to make up my 'six for the day'. We did it early, was great to hear how an old historic pub closed for ages had been refurbished to a high standard, you could tell the staff were really passionate about it doing well, so great to see it got in, beer bit cold from memory).
Barrel Drop, Nottingham (Did this with Dad & Tom in 2015, I think I was trying to be clever so googled Nottingham micropubs as we had a long walk and I wanted something en route to break the journey (loo most probably). I didn't particularly find it thrilling, it has taken its sweet time to get in the GBG, but was worth the tick in the end!)
Golden Lion, Newmarket (I met Martin Taylor here on our most Suffolky Cambridgeshire day a couple of years back, and although it hadn't got in recent GBG's, Martin was sure this 'Spoons would get back in eventually, and as ever, he's been proved mystic Martin).
Taphouse, Hull (Big thanks to friend of the BRAP, Christine Andrew, for booking a group of us in here on our Hull post-lockdown day, 3 weeks after the pubs reopened. The App was really awkward, the rules quite strict, don't think any of us loved it, but the beer was very good and it is the kind of place you see getting in the GBG all over the country, so proved a great shout).
Market Cat, York (Me and my friends go out for drinks most Tuesdays in York, or did, and were quite intrigued when we heard Thornbridge had a new place. We left it a while for any great clamour and novelty to die down, and went along just before Christmas! Was ok, I was a bit underwhelmed, the views onto the top of the market probably the most exciting thing about it.
Bryherstones Country Inn, Claughton (Just outside Scarborough, had a lovely BRAPA day 5 or 6 years back with Dad, Tom Irvin and his parents. We'd been to the superior Hayburn Wyke Hotel which was in the GBG, this was back up on the main road (had been in previous edition, but not at time of visit), twice as expensive, too many flies, we offended the staff from memory, but glad we went in and got it done as it's finally reappeared.
Old Brewhouse, Cusworth, Doncaster (Last and least, recommended by a mate at work called Mark who lives in Donny. He didn't particularly rate it, but thought it had GBG potential for my quest, so after a trip to a Scawsby pub, he helped direct me to it as Google Maps had it totally incorrectly plotted. It was a dark cold January night, insane location, the homebrew was awful, the customers were a bit cliquey and doggie, but I am glad I got it done cos it has got in!)
So there we have it, back to the regular blogs this evening! Only about a month behind.
Hope you enjoyed this little update, happy pubbing chums,