I've pub ticked in Newport Essex, Newport Shropshire, Newport Isle of Wight, and I'd certainly have ticked Newport East Yorkshire if it had a GBG pub. But I'd never been to the Welsh Newport, perhaps the most famous of the lot. I once read it was the suicide capital of the UK, but with a solid six GBG entries, that was hard to believe.
Monday 3rd October 11am, and you know what Monday's are like, scratting around for any sort of pub sustenance. Luckily, Gwentish options were plentiful so I take myself off to the bus station where suddenly the suicide stats made sense, before making the short journey to Caerleon, which is basically outer Newport.
As you can probably tell from the above photos, location is everything at the Hanbury Arms, Caerleon (2425 / 3989) , the interior was certainly unspectacular, a bare wooden dining place, the only colour provided by our fabulous hostess with the pink hair and piercings, one of the friendliest of many friendly staff members I'd meet all week. Rev James was about the only ale on, 'groan' I thought, but perhaps it is because I associate it with Ember Inns, because this was a delightful malty drop, best enjoyed outside at high noon, the sun shimmering on the bonny bonny banks of the Usk. An old man with red socks sits and stares at nothing, he's got the right idea, and when a bloke arrives with a droopy flower it looks like he's yanked from a nearby flowerbed, he presents it to the lady who has come to join him for lunch, giving her a kiss on the forehead in the process. Romance lives in Caerleon.
Still in the GBG? Nah, despite the quality of the Rev James, one (or two) ales on often isn't enough for the CAMRA's who have replaced it with a different Caerleon pub offering Landlord, HPA and Butty Bach.
Although my next pub was actually listed under Newport, it was a short walk from here , it was even on Caerleon Road .....
With a classic inn sign and a lovely plain frontage, from this angle at least, hopes were high for the St Julian Inn, Newport (2426 / 3990). After all, every time it got mentioned later on in this holiday, or on Twitter, the consensus seemed to be 'cor ain't it bladdy lovely?' But I found it a bit of a moody gloom pot, and the joys of autumn which swept over me whilst outside at the Hanbury quickly evaporated. The staff didn't help by refusing to smile or make eye contact at any juncture, even when I was sat alone on a low leather settee just by the kitchen door, which got frequent usage. My beer was from Bristol Beer Factory, and this pub had quite the range for those of you who sneer at anything too popular. I didn't think it was fab quality though. It was a pub of two halves. A bright shiny conservatory looking out onto the river was inhabited by elderly ladies who not only lunch, but lunch in lycra. A bit like watching a snake eating a rodent, you could see the digestion process in all its horrible glory. I sat in the larger pubbier main area, where two local Jezza Kyle types with arses hanging out of trackie bottoms played pool and drank lager in a disconsolate manner, despite you could argue, living the dream. Only a few fruit machine twinkled as blissfully as the Usk in the sun. I returned my glass to the bar at the end and got a contorted attempt at a goodbye smile from the bloke who'd had the most potential. Yup, I was struggling to shake this suicide stat.
Still in GBG? Course it is, bright shiny beers from exciting places that ain't Brains, Wye Valley or Fullers? Local CAM's wetting themselves with excitement, probably.
I took a bus back into Newport because they were plentiful and we were still a good 2.5 miles out of town, though I'm pleased to report that my right knee and right hip which I don't like to talk about were much recovered from the weekend's exploits. Pub three and the final one in Part 5 was nice and central.
Easily the best of the two local Tiny Rebel bars I visited today, Tiny Rebel, Newport (2427 / 3991) benefited from having a fair few people turning over the cask, even on a Monday. They had special Bez and Shaun Ryder themed all day 'happy hour' going on (Happy Mondays, I might've made that up), and it £2.50 for a nice pint of something wheaty and murky. I say this with some surprise because some of the worst beers I've had all year are Tiny Rebel - my fault entirely, not theirs, I always know what I'm getting myself into ordering stuff like 'Battenberg', 'Pink Grapefruit' and 'Oat Milk & Rusk' flavoured brews, they always pique my interest, I go full pint of course cos it is the only way to drink, and regret it quarter of the way in! Can you be too experimental? I'm talking about beer so much because the place is exactly as you'd imagine, hip young things, cool music, terrifying Roy Keane mural, cute yellow dragons, shabby chic industrial bollocks (not literally, though that'd be interesting wall art I'd not put past them). I even got a free taste of the Banoffee cider but I wasn't rushing to say yum, sickly sweet. A bit cosier downstairs by the loo, probably nicer on a busy evening this place, and respect where it is due to TR.
Still in GBG? Course it bloody is, untouchable I'd guess in the year 2022.
I'm seriously considering moving blogging operations away from Blogger and onto Wix in the near future .... uploading photo errors must be adding a good 20 minutes to each blog I write. Wouldn't be bad if Twitter goes under, I could have a totally fresh start in 2023.
No Thirsty Thursday or Wobbly Wednesday this week, I'm being sober and good, well, until Friday night so will keep the blogs coming up until my latest holiday. See you tomorrow for more from Newport and Tiny Rebel.