Thursday 27 October 2022


Another one back on the shelf.

Good morning and happy new Good Beer Guide year!

The cross-ticking is complete and I've just got one word for you ..... OUCH.

The Damage

312 pubs lost, bringing me down to 2152 (47.82% GBG completion). A 12.7% loss isn't unprecedented, but it still stings.  Colin (currently having his quarterly wash) has already sent me a "sorry for your loss" card.  

To put it into context, my 'original' 2,152nd tick was achieved in Binfield (Victoria Arms) in Berkshire on 3rd April.  That is nearly 7 months of pubbing to make up.

At least this one is still in the new GBG

I completed the cross-tick on Monday evening, so I've had time, as the football twitter kids say, to 'give my head a jolly old wobble', 'dust worself down'  and 'go again'.  

Good job I do it for the love of pubs, eh (he says through gritted teeth!) 

Churn and the Reasons Why

'More churn than a giant dairy', as one fellow pub ticker with a dreadful love of puns, put it.  Truth is, we were spoilt last year with the minimal Covid induced churn.  I lost 150 or something ridiculous.  I remember even joking that last year's GBG was just the 2021 edition with a different front cover.  

It seems those lockdown shackles are now off, the CAMRA branches feel liberated, have released their inner minx, and spread their wings.

27 down in North Yorkshire and Hants, 26 in Greater Manchester, whilst London has been beastly.

The 'kind' counties this year are Essex, South Yorkshire, Staffordshire, Berkshire and Cambridgeshire.  Well done them.  I'll reward you by generally leaving you alone (apart from SY).

It is unusual churn too.  Sour Cherry Kefir or something.  The big 2015-18 churns were a result of micropubs popping up for the first time in every town.  But what I'm noticing this time is a lot of older pubs that haven't been in the GBG since long before the advent of BRAPA.

I've been waiting for the Goat & Tricycle in Bournemouth to appear since my 2004 visit.  Loved it. Accidentally chatted up a married lady.  Armoury in Shrewsbury was done in 2005 on a holiday with my mate John where we accidentally stayed a few nights in a gay boutique.  Plymouth has popped in loads of stuff I did drunkenly in the mid noughties like Admiral MacBride, Providence and Lounge when Stuart Elliot and Dean Windass were knocking the goals in.  

So really, the cross-tick could've been even worse!

The Vague Plan

So let the world's booziest game of Snakes n Ladders recommence today.  It is Thirsty Thursday after all.  

Filling in the Yorkshire gaps should be a nice morale boosting start.  I want to get Lancashire fully green after failing last year.  HOW many more trips to Preston?  What did I do in a former life to deserve this? Then I'm going to start looking at Notts/Leics.  That's my more 'local' plan for the year.  

Saturday's will still be Kent/London based for the foreseeable future, both WILL be fully green by Oct 2023, of that I can guarantee, but I'll do a 'strategy' update in the early New Year cos it's tradition.

My gross tally has risen to 4057 at the time of writing.  That has been helped by a record number of pre-emptives come good (usually about 10, but 19 I've counted this year).  So we'll end this blog with the roll of honour for those who helped make it happen.  And a few pics.  You like pics don't you?  

Keep it pub, Si 

Pre-Emptives Come Good

1. Magnet, Colchester - So new, it smelt of paint and looked like something off a Dulux advert.  A man on a bike acted very oddly.  I didn't like it til a funny bloke started chatting to me about homelessness in Glasgow or something.  Thanks to the Colchester Twitter person who recommended it, sorry I can't remember your name but you get a point.

I wonder if it has a more 'lived in' feel yet?

2. Woodman, Bishopthorpe - Ah, accidental pre emptives are the best!  I'm awarding a point to Humphrey Smith for this one.  I was on a walk with work mate Karl back in April, I wanted to show him the beautiful Sam Smith's Ebor pub even though he only drinks Smirnoff Ice, but it was unexpectedly shut (like what happens with so many S.S. pubs at the moment), so I chose this because it was next door and the only one in the village I hadn't done.  Wasn't expecting much, but the quality on that Ossett White Rat is up there with the best pints I'd had all year.  Then I started seeing local CAMRA meetings being held here, and I thought 'ey up, that was actually a pre-emptive'.

Accepting a point on Humph's behalf who sadly couldn't be with us today

3. Craft Bar, Scarborough - Think I Whatpub'd Scabby options when I knew I'd have time before a train.  Still, I sounded out the locals in the Welfare Club, who said it was definitely worth a crack.  And even though the barmaid was incompetence personified and no one had cleaned a glass for the past 7 hours, it had that 'future GBG' feel about it.  

Giving myself a point for my obvious genius and forward fashion look.

Can you spot the ghost?

4. Travellers Rest, Meltham - Fellow pub ticker Jim Brunt gets a point here.  He'd heard a whisper, and gave us a clue on Whatsapp that a pub in the Huddersfield area was in the GBG for the first time since 1974.  And being a saddo, I worked out he meant this one!  Jim then drove me and Eddie F on a dark wintry Feb night, I even took my 1974 GBG but the general consensus was that highlighting it green would be wrong, even though my copy isn't a 'plague edition'.

Low key candidate for best loo sign of the year

5. Prop Ur Baa, Ossett - And it is Eddie Fogden himself who gets a point here, I was well impressed, a stark contrast from Jolly Tap in Wakefield (and horrid pub in Horbury I was staying!)  Heaving, funny, crazy drunk locals, there'd been some town beer festival to mark the Platty Joobz celebrations.  I even stayed for another and nearly missed the cake cutting at Eddie's wedding, which would've been his fault for recommending me it the previous January, if indeed, me being present for cake cutting would've made any difference to anything, which obviously it didn't.

Making new friends in the Prop

6. Dog Inn, Belthorn - My mate Ian S. of Blackburn and beermat collecting fame gets the plaudits for this.  I'd seen it in GBG's before, I even got locked out at 10pm one night when they shut early.  Felt as much a village shop as pub with postcards, jelly snakes & tins of beans n stuff.  Lacked something 'pubby', but the beer was perhaps the best of eight I had on this day and as so often in this part of Lancs, the people were spot on. A small girl was going around cleaning the tables, citing 'child labour'. 

Ian looks like a man who knows he's just got a point in the pre-emptive league table

7. Cask & Tap, Blackpool - Oh Blackpool Jane, a bit like Ian Ashbee, she's neither here nor there she is everywhere, recommending me this absolute quality micro mid Rebellion punk festival, and bagging herself a point.  And I met fellow punk and pub ticker Ian/Alfie here too.  So impressed was I, I took Daddy BRAPA the other week and he liked it too.  Staff are incredibly switched on.  Like Admiral Lord Rodney, Criggion levels, but that is an obscure Mid Wales 2016 pub reference.  Everyone will chat to you here too cos West Lancs is like that.

Oooh looks busy, let's blame the punks

8. Thirsty? Alehouse, Blackpool - Felt much less nailed on than C&T, but again Blackpool Jane gets the plaudits, moving her top of the pre-emptive league, with her second point.  Peculiar, a quite unfriendly barman despite our best chirpy efforts.  'Themed' rooms don't really translate.  Fabulous cuckoo clock in the 'Swiss/Alps/Euro' room was the highlight, and got us away from an angry ill punk woman from Batley and her naughty L**ds fan probable brother.  Still, the stout I had was excellent.

Before the Batley/Lds invasion

9. King George V, Brompton

Thanks to the landlord of Rainham's excellent Prince of Ales for the heads up on this.  Walked across a park in Gillingham to get there.  It was a cracking old pub but the ales Daddy BRAPA and I ordered (different ones) were well below par.  Dad took his back and got something drinkable but tepid.  The lady was nice and apologised for our 'bad experience' but no pump clips were turned around at any stage, and the locals didn't care cos they were all on the fizz. Still, delighted it is in the GBG if it means I don't have to go back to Gillingham, although sort of ironically, there's a new one in Rainham!

Daddy B. won't be smiling once he's tried that beer

10. Bell & Crown, Canterbury

A point for Maidstone's finest, Pauline Sharp.  They're sharing the points around today the #PubMen and #PubWomen aren't they?  It was all a bit 'hopeful' when, on seeing Thomas Tallis closed and having time to kill before the New Inn opened on that tricky Queen funeral bank holiday, I saw this pub was on a list of Canterbury pubs she'd enjoyed recently.  It was close to the bit of street I was hovering in.  So I went, the beer was solid, it felt about 40% pubby, I thought "it's actually got a chance of inclusion" and guess what, it did!

Forgot about the almost face-sitters - John Bell and Jim Crown (maybe)

11. Pot Kiln, Frilsham

The lovely Tim Thomas of all things West Berkshire CAMRA helped me celebrate BRAPA's 8th birthday by driving me out to this small, hidden away rural gem.  The road felt like it was going to run out, and we'd fall into the abyss, or Wiltshire as it is sometimes known.  #TeamWestBerkshire.  The Indigenous brews were good, staff welcoming, and this lovely man in a suit who Tim knew was actually helping compile the GBG entry as we spoke, and if that's not a sign of a nailed on pre-emptive, I don't know what is!   

Celebrating BRAPA's 8th birthday in style

12. Bowler's Arms, Wash Common, Newbury

Tim joins Jane on two points (tight at the top!) with a second genius recommendation, not too far from his home.  A recently refurbed cricket club, so a glorious setting, and although you beer experts might not think the range was exciting, the quality on that Tim Taylor Landlord was like being up in peak Keighley.  Colin made a new friend, and that was that.

13. Station Hotel, Abergavenny 

I'm going to give TheWickingMan a point here.  I'd seen this pub in previous GBGs, I was staying in Abergavenny which I thought was a beautiful town, so the pub was in my thoughts, then a few locals recommended it in another great pub, Y Cantreff, but seeing it on the Bass spreadsheet was the final push I needed, as I like reporting back on the Bass.  Gorgeous pub, and this particular Bass was the best of quite a few I had on my Gwent holiday.  I'd have rioted if it hadn't made the 2023 edition.

Low bench or short body?

14,  John Wallace Linton, Newport

Another totally accidental tick, basically I needed a wee (as I so often do late on, or early on, or silly mid on) and had 40 mins til my next train, so popped around the corner to this handy 'Spoons, the first Welsh 'Spoons I read,  but a few locals came on my Twitter and told me in stern Welsh terms that I was wrong.  The quality on the Bristol ale was so good, it made me do a double take like 'wow!', having had a dreadful pint in the Cwmbran 'Spoons the night before.  I still had no expectations for it making the GBG, especially as another local 'Spoons is in, so this was a nice surprise.  I won't give myself a point though as it involved very little skill on my part and I'm beautifully modest.

And 'Spoons carpet of the year contender

15. Weird Dad Brewery Tap, Newport

A point for both the guv'nor of Newport's micropub of limited hours, the Cellar Door, and for Twitter legend Rhys Wynne who had given me the heads up on this earlier in the week..  Mr Cellar Door bonded with me when we both saw each other singing along to Fun Lovin Criminals (I prefer Fine Young Cannibals but he doesn't need to know that).  He thought my plan to go out to Chepstow at this time of day was a bit outlandish, so recommended this, and I deferred to his better judgement, and when I found a well kept Yorkshire Heart beer amongst their own crafty offerings, I thought 'yes, this might have half a chance'.  And it had more than half a chance, it had a full one.

Also contained second smallest loo of the BRAPA year.  I like the sink cistern set up.

16. Nursery, Stockport

I'd heard a few Twitter murmurings months before but ultimately, Pub Curmudgeon gets the point as he said he'd meet me here which gave me the final push to keep my discipline and actually do it, along with Daddy BRAPA and Tom Irvin, towards the end of a long hot day of GMR ticking.  I liked my Hyde's, and the pub in general seemed a good solid multi-roomer despite some obvious modernisations.  A couple of comments afterwards gave me reason to believe it might not be the 'nailed on' entry I'd hoped, so was relieved and pleased to see it had made it.

17. Nelthorpe Arms, South Ferriby

We're going back to 1st Feb 2020, or 'the day I met Duncan' as it is most commonly known, but this North Lincs entry, recommended by our Hull City friend Christine Andrew who was having a big birthday do later on took its sweet time in making the GBG, but we got there in the end.  I liked it, very good pint, Blind Sooty always a good sign, kid in Hull City top, a weird Dad (not the Newport place) and some fascinating photos from the war we didn't understand.  Will this be the pub that lights the blue touch paper on a first concerted Lincs push in the 2022/23? 

The moment a Dad of crazy Hull City kids gets prodded in the side by a ghost

18. Shrewsbury Hotel, Shrewsbury

And if you thought that was tardy, I've been waiting for this giant 'Spoons to make the GBG since 28/6/14 , one of my earliest BRAPA away days before I caught a bus to Baschurch, just killing time.  Didn't recognise it as a 'pre-emptive' til years later cos I hadn't come up with the term then.  Every 'Spoons is pre-emptive, well apart from the Last Plantagenet in Leicester and the Gate Clock Greenwich, and this did nothing wrong on my visit so a nice bonus tick to get.  I won't give myself a point though cos it was a total fluke and I don't deserve to win.

Not my pic cos it is actually good so thanks to Spoons website.  I didn't do photos as much in 2014.

19. Paper Mill Inn, Whitehough

Another historic tick I've been waiting to get in since 2018.  It was one of our summer days out with Tom and his parents, and we'd gone around the Hope Valley, eventually crossing into Derbyshire.  Chinley was the nearby station.  We'd done the GBG regular Old Hall Inn where I'd got into an argument with the staff about indoor seating limitations /dining.  It was summer, so we sat outside, I was finally calming down when a few of us noticed this pub over some greenery in the background.  "Would be rude not to" I remember us saying, feeling Daddy BRAPA and Tom's Dad Chris might've been the main instigators.  But not enough for any point awarding.  It was decent, a bit like the Old Hall but with more pizza and a less green outdoor area.

Not sure if the man in white was with us but he's in all my photos here.   Were Daddy B or Tom taken ill and played by a stand-in actor? 

So there we have it, well done Tim Thomas and Blackpool Jane, a 2-2 draw. Prizes on the way, next time I see you.



  1. Definitely need to add 'the world's booziest game of Snakes n Ladders' to the blog tagline!

  2. Heaton Hops in Heaton Chapel is rather controversially out of the GBG, despite its high beer scores, after a bit of a spat over the owner's CAMRA-bashing tweets with Stockport and South Manchester branch, although looking back through your blog it seems you didn't really enjoy your visit there, but I suppose a tick is still a tick.