Q : When do you most want your Good Beer Guide to look like this?
A : When you are in a Sam Smith pub!
It was the shortest walk from Tiny Rebel in Newport centre to this gem, but they were world's apart in almost every way.
Olde Murenger House, Newport (2428 / 3992) really makes me sad that there aren't more Sam Smith pubs in the GBG, an unpopular view I guess, but the combo of eccentric unpredictable owner plus just the one cask on (OBB) are perhaps too much to bear for most CAMRA branches. Shame, but as the Cheeky Girls would comment 'touch my bum, this is life'. Their buildings are generally stunning old time warps, and this was a fine example. Despite the 'no electronic devices' rule, I manage to sneak two photos (instead of my usual 4-5) early doors, pubs this beautiful deserve to be seen by the widest audience possible. If this rule still exists in five years time, I'll be shocked. Dimly lit, beautiful wood panelling, old settles, stained glass, I was purring like a kitten as I shoved my phone firmly back in my pocket, savoured my excellent pint, and read my GBG like a novel. A surprisingly deep pub too, a walk to the loo taught me that, and in every nook and cranny, a warty old bloke with long hairy ears. One chap at the bar is explaining that he lives in Malta these days, but he's back for the free healthcare, before pointing graphically towards his prostate. I had to chuckle that my pint in Tiny Rebel had been cheaper (closer to £3 here the heathens!), I'd have put money on the opposite at the start of play.
Still in GBG? It sure is, Newport CAMRA you absolute enlightened legends!
Time to go the wrong way out of Newport (AKA not towards Abergavenny OR Chepstow), where I had two ticks conveniently situated on the same train route.
This was the first .....
Commercial Inn, Pontymister (2429 / 3993) had an eyesore Covid throwback of an exterior, and once inside, it was a pub lacking any distinct personality or zhush. Perhaps a bit harsh to dismiss it as an identikit dining pub, what with the flashing screens, cocktail and food offers .... but a real return to reality after the Murenger. I'd later discover a pool table, jukebox, and a heariter locals atmosphere to the right, which was some consolation. It reminded me of the kind of place you find in the 'burbs of Cardiff, and I guess I was getting closer. My pint was decent, Pig & Porter are one of those breweries following BRAPA around the country at the moment. The pub experience almost entirely passed me by as I tried to work out which of the young staff's 'drink, food, music' combo is least horrific. I think I'll go with Ginny providing the wine is red, the chilli is mild, and 'Dancing Queen' turns out to be some punk cover and not the original. Fifth pint syndrome may've been a factor, but just when I was about to try and quicken my drinking speed and piss off, a huge group of ladies arrives. "We have this table reserved, sorry" they tell me so matter-of-factly, I don't even argue despite the lack of table reservation sign, which I'd expect in a pub of this ilk. In fact, wouldn't it normally be a staff member who move you in this situation, this isn't the LNER to Peterborough pals! They end up asking me to stay and join them when we get chatting BRAPA, me now hovering awkwardly, GBG in hand. But I politely decline, all bar one was a loud Welsh clucky mother hen. That is when I discover the vaguely pubbier right side, and the late intrusion had sobered me up a bit too, so all in all not a bad ending.
Still in the GBG? No, and I'm not hugely surprised.
|Colin : ESB / Mini Cheddars / Cauliflowers Fluffy|
One more tick before the end of day three in Gwent, and one more stop on the same train line took me to Rogerstone. It was a surprisingly long confusing walk, but when has a brewery tap every been located in a reasonable place? Very much like modern day football grounds.
And this place was akin to Wembley Stadium, flippin' massive to navigate the perimeter and find the entrance, welcome to Tiny Rebel Brewery Bar, Rogerstone (2430 / 3994), more like a warehouse. In some ways it reminded me of the time I nearly inadvertently broke into Sellafield. The place was exactly as I expected, a right industrial monster. The one big surprise was how poor the cask was, not too many on but the Peleton Pale was dishwater, ugh, I'd rather have had a pint of Coors, not sure they sell it. Bit embarrassing they can't get cask right in their own brewery tap, for two pub tickers messaged me to say they'd both had exactly the same experience! The theory is that people come here more for events, food, cocktails etc. and the ale doesn't get the same turnover the one in Newport centre gets. But no excuse is it? The music tried to cheer me. Billy Idol's Rebel Yell must be their anthem, got stuck on repeat a bit in a Ghost Town/Father Ted style loop, before the unlikely combo of Billy Joel and Metallica tried to raise my spirits. I resisted the temptation to buy my mate a Tiny Rebel t-shirt for his birthday, or some craft cans for my hotel room. This was a damp squib of an ending to an interesting, mixed day three.
Still in the GBG? Yes, and there was a certain air of inevitability to it.