Today's quest saw me aiming to break my three year old record of four consecutive pints of Bass in BRAPA pubs. If it was achievable anywhere, Staffordshire was the place to do it.
And it was 1/1 early doors in Green Man, Milwich (1967 / 3396) , a pub so remote, I'd been delighted to come up with a public transport solution (obscure bus to place called Salt, then long walk) until I realised said bus only takes the Salt route about thrice a day.
A taxi it was instead, my driver was a 'character', bemoaning all the shut boozers en route, but bemoaning even more Petrol Crisis 2021, which was dominating the news this morning. We were joking about what I'd do if the pub wasn't open, but arriving at 12:05pm, a wide open door reassured me. Yet he STILL felt the need to poke his head out of the car window, and shout at the landlady who was doing some essential pub work in the beer garden "THIS LAD IS WONDERING IF YOU ARE OPEN!" (I'm not wondering, I can see it is). "Well if he looks, he'll see the door is wide open!" she replies. Talk about getting me off on the wrong foot! I'm the the first customer, and thankfully the landlord is easier to please, as I order a Bass, a beer he's a fan of, he's been here since 1990. 27 consecutive GBG appearances too. I'm very shortly joined by a gaggle of old locals, who all sit centimetres away from me on the bench, some to my left, some right, but almost zero acknowledgement, despite a bloody great cauliflower, beer guide and Stabilo on my table. I try and join in the chat briefly, but they'd rather speak through me! Verging on rude. Is this peak middle England? Why this lot are also so apoplectic re the petrol crisis I'll never know, sinking about 4 Bassies in the time it takes me to drink one, where are they planning on driving? When did they last leave Milwich? The guv'nor is the only person I like here, occasional smiles, he claims getting Bass on has been tough due to a CO2 shortage and we all should be thankful. At one point, he wipes the blackboard, rechalks it, but it is fainter than it was before! Locals are passing each other newspapers over my head now. I return my glass, say goodbye and leave. Absolute crickets.
|A happy scene|
|Before the locals arrive #1|
|Before the locals arrive #2|
It is a long walk back to the main road junction, plenty of time to chunter under my breath about weird insular village folk, and get it all out of my system. Gorgeous pub though, and good beer.
After passing a few farms and lots of angry pheasants, I take a right turn onto a busy road and just pray the pavement holds out.
It does. Well, right up until I need to take my life into my hands by crossing and turning into the village for pub two.
And with not many properties in this little hamlet, the pub is easy to spot, all twinkly with little fairy lights flickering on the outside.
It opens up into a fairly characterless indoor space, I can't say Greyhound, Burston (1968 / 3397) is going to be a contender for pub of the weekend, despite a sunnier welcome from the landlady. It is Marston's too, thus denying me a second consecutive Bass I'd been hoping for. Having said that, the ale quality is spot on, the 61 Deep sure drank well, it needed to! Pretty gastro otherwise, the only 'atmosphere' created by a spate of incoming yappy dogs blocking way to toilets from bar, and children asking their Mummies for sweeties. It is exactly the sort of pub you'll end up in the baby change by mistake, and that's what I did. At least I could take solace in the fact that two blokes opposite me, discussing aquatic birds, looked like they could've stepped straight off my Twitter page and into this pub. We exchanged a few friendly words, mainly about twilds and twogs. The low leather settee isn't doing much for my 'drinking posture', which soon needs to be dialled up to 'Down it, Down it'. Having miscalculated how many miles Stone is from here, and still unclear on the 'pavement situation', I've tried ordering an Uber taxi. Not too confident, such a hit and miss company. But this time, it pings in seconds and a bloke says he's only eight minutes away. I still have three quarters of a pint to drink. But I make it, and leave with a big belch and bye bye to our bird lovers.
|Aquatic legends - and I don't mean Colin|
|I love owls but no thanks|
|What can we see through the pub window?|
|Handbag dog orders lady owner a pint of Pedigree (chum)|
Uber driver doesn't say a word but is incredible efficient, dropping me off at my Stone outlier at 13:57.
A lady is sat outside, I step up to take the picture ......
"I don't want you to think I'm an alki waiting for the pub to open!" says woman of the moment, who introduces herself as a Wolverhampton Wanderers fan in that slightly apologetic / didn't ask way they always do. "Wait ..... so they aren't open yet?" I ask in shock. "No, 2pm!" she replies. Well, I'd timed my arrival at the Swan, Stone (1969 / 3398) perfectly then. Suddenly, we hear a key jangle in the lock and the door creaks open, 1:58pm. "Sorry, I didn't realise you were waiting, I'd have opened sooner!" says our lively, slightly bonkers friendly host Danni, an Aston Villa fan, who hasn't got over Grealish's departure. "I thought we were going to get married, but he's blown his chance now! I've moved on to Danny Ings" she says, bonding with Wolves lady over Midlands football. For a woman worried about looking like an alki, Wolves lady orders a tiny coffee with free biscuit, whilst I hit the Sarah Hughes. Danni brings out a frozen blue rubber glove to entertain the masses, which now involve a bonkers old local, who keeps showing me rude memes on his phone even though I didn't ask. He wants a hold of Colin. Danni is a fan too. Of course Colin would prove popular in such a friendly, quirky environment, one of my favourite pub experiences of the weekend. And just when you think it can't get any more weird bonkers colourful, Matthew "See the lizards" Lawrenson arrives to my 'surprise' (name of the ale I'm drinking so I shouldn't be!) , all Paisley shirted and wonderful, seeing on Twitter I was likely due here. Great, finally I have a tour guide. Wolves lady, who now has a man with her, stumbles back from the bogs, pauses and confesses she thought Matthew's bag was a dog and nearly stroked it. What was in that coffee? Matthew had warned me that Stone was a funny place, but now I could see for myself.
|Col, Matthew and a Random Pile of Logs|
|Rude joke meme loving local, with Col|
|Danni and Col|
|Col and pub party piece, frozen blue rubber glove|
|Our local heroes enjoying a great pub|
|Distant Wolves lady surveys the scene|
|Cracking ale, but very sweet|
So another Bass failure, and the scene didn't get any brighter next as Matthew tells me the next place is a Titanic outlet ...... NOT that that's a bad thing ......
|Iceberg time, courtesy of our friendly host wearing sensible clothes|
|Possible Mr Brasso sighting?|
|Another low key Mr Brasso contender, note Matthew in the window|
|Nice foamy Zombie Richard|
|Calm before the golf gang arrived|
|A pleasant BRAPA scene|