Monday 30 August 2021


Pub 4 on our St Albans list took us about ten minutes away from the Mermaid to our furthest point, I now had a mental map of where pubs 5 and 6 would be, so take that GBG App! (which I see has now been fixed to show all S.A. pubs, which I'd love to think is "the Power of BRAPA" but probably a coincidence). 

Great Northern, St Albans (1917 / 3346) took us unexpectedly into Marston's territory, and with the fourth consecutive friendly greeting, this perhaps the best yet as she's all like "hiiiiiii hunnn how are you today?" , a ray of sunshine, just like the Sunbeam beer I was about to drink.  You've heard that BRAPA pet hate, random piles of logs not doing anything, well here you had 'random pizzas sat around not doing anything'.  That set the tone for a pub that didn't quite work for me or Dad.  His 1960's town planning / post war Coventry / Rochdale analogy worked quite well.  Like here was a pub, once old and proud, modernised too much, and now, they were trying to pull it back, to something closer to the original.  NOT that it stopped the place smelling like a vegan restaurant, and the mural behind Dad would make William Morris blush, gave me a headache.  I can't blame the Sunbeam for that! 

A step back in the right direction, in more ways the one, was our fifth pub .....

Now things were about to get really weird, at the excellent Farmer's Boy, St Albans (1918 / 3347) which in my mind is probably Mermaid's sternest competition for pub of the day.  Wherry or White Rat presented an ale choice which was pure 'recent rural Essex trips' versus 'my local in York'.  I went the latter, but had I been with Simon Dewhurst instead of Daddy BRAPA, I'd have gone Wherry!  Not being at my most observant 5 pints in, it takes me a helluva long time to realise the music we can hear is live.  People facing the wrong way on pub benches with arses in the air and heads sticking out of the window should've been a clue!  The courtyard is packed to the rafters, and I must say, for MOR pub rock, this band were as impressive as could be, excellent stuff!  Even the punk section managed to be gentle, as Dad drops the bombshell he's never found "I Fought the Law" to be a good song.  Colour me shocked, but I take his point.  I wander outside to watch a song, very nice, I come back in, uneventful enough.  Dad decides to do the same, she's signing "I Want to Break Free" by Queen.  Dad returns, three minutes later, all giggly and blushing and flustered.  "She asked me to go on stage!" he says.  From what I can gather, it seems his lack of moustache and hoover were the crux of the reason he didn't, but his leather skirt and fishnets were the reason for the request.  Or is that Sir Quinno spreading vicious rumours?  Excellent stuff all round.

Onto the last pub then, and the first I'd seen today, on the main drag up from the station ......

Looking back now, Robin Hood, St Albans (1919 / 3348) was yet another classic boozer in the mould of Farmer's Boy and very much the Mermaid.  At the time though, it was marred slightly by a man with a Timmy Mallet demeanour who stood a centimetre from my face at the bar (not Daddy BRAPA) as we ordered our 'Side Pockets for a Toad', first time Dad has been able to enjoy this since a vinegary experience in Croxley Green 14 years ago!  First I wondered if this guy was a Twitter bloke about to introduce himself, but he didn't say a word as I told Dad that Harvey's has never been a beer that has wowed me, for all the southern love of it.  Was certainly sure the bloke was about to order it, but he went Side Pocket too.  I wasn't about to make eye contact, and he only spoke when I said I didn't think the jam jars were always a good indication of ale quality.  "Well, they change 'em daily here!" he says rather snootily.  I didn't ask, mate!  We finally went to sit down, worried I'd be smacked on the head with a foam mallet and forced to say 'bleurgh!" (which of course I might've done had I ordered Harvey's ..... sorry southerners, just a little joke.  And sitting in the far corner, away from any in-timmy-dation (thanks!) we could finally appreciate this low key classic for what it was.

Back on the train to St Pancras, pretty sure I was totally mentally sound and not feeling the after effects of the six pints too much .....

Back at Kings Cross, we sat outside, sobering up with some coffee and food.  We then undid all that good work with a late Parcel Yard ESB, where we bumped into our Hull City chums, including BRAPA alumni Ben, Tom and Christine who'd just enjoyed a 0-2 defeat at Fulham, which is like a victory if you think about it carefully whilst drinking ESB.

Had been a great day, and I will be back in Snalbans some time in 2021/22 to tick off Six Bells, White Hart Tap and anything else which might make its way into the 2022 edition.

Take care, Si 

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