Sunday, 25 May 2014

BRAPA - Idle and Chester

It is Sunday afternoon and in a few hours time, I'll be embarking on a trip to Barcelona - how bizarre is that, barely even thought about it.  Therefore, best catch up on recent BRAPA ticks whilst I can remember them, well to be honest, yesterday's memories of Chester are a bit hazy already!

417 - Albion, Greengates - very very local after a bus journey from Leeds on Tuesday afternoon after a day's gardening with work!  Great quality ale and cracking little pub, not unfriendly but think they were a bit surprised to see a stranger at that time.  Had an Albion ale which tasted like West Yorkshire in a glass, and probably is designed with the pub in mind.  Recommended.

(I then had drama as, being an early finish from work, neither Idle pub was open yet but a friendly landlady outside her pub the Alexander invited me in for a sample of their ales as long as i didn't disturb the bingo, a lifesaver!)

418 - Brewery Tap, Idle - Disappointing,  not really any better than the Alexander and my Kelham Island Pale Rider tasted like farts and the range was limited to two.  A dog kept trying to eat me(!), apparently this is a great gig venue that attracts good bands and that's exactly how it felt on my visit!

419 - Symposium, Idle - Very good, one of the few remaining MTT ticks and my Bohemian Rhatsody was superb.  Okay, so a bit like a bar so lacked the Albion's charm but friendly and comfy in it's own right with great ale range like most MTT's.

420 - Pied Bull, Chester - The first and possibly best of the day.  Own brewery on sight and my IPA was stunning.  Tales of ghosts, lovely beamed Tudor-style place.  A bit like YOSI in York, you could see the touristy element as it was very central, but can't really knock it otherwise.

421 - Old Harkers Arms, Chester - Probably hit it at wrong time (Saturday lunch), was very geared to diners and a very female friendly crowd.  Beer was good, but not amazing.  Still felt fairly at home in circs and a very unthreatening atmos you couldn't help but find!

422 - Cellar, Chester - Current Chester CAMRA pub of year, and from ale range and quality (I had an amazing smoked porter) plus very good staff and a folder showed me pub has a lot on and free bacon sarnies sometimes!  Again, aimed at younger crowd.  Could I have actually got into cellar was the unanswered issue here, had i managed it, it could have been pub of the day.

423 - Lodge Bar, Hoole - Hotel bar very close to Chester train station compared with most Chester pubs, it wasn't as limited beer range as some hotel bars, but it did lack a bit of proper pub charm (obviously you might say), staff seemed nice til I spent too long in loos drying off and think I lost my hat here too!

424 - Olde Cottage Inn, Chester - This was more like the old unspoilt pub I'd been missing since Pied Bull, didn't appreciate as much as I should have done because i was so drenched. Friendly though with characterful locals and situated better than any for the station.  May have been a good 'last pub' option.

425 - Cross Keys, Chester - Joule's beers so a nice ale range experience for me.  I was knackered by now and probably should have had a Slumbering Monk as I kept drifting off - think I left some ale too.  No-one seemed to notice and i'd probably come back here if I had time to kill in Chester as I didn't appreciate this lovely Victorian pub as much as possible.

426 - Brewery Tap, Chester - Recommended by my friend JW2 and could see why as it was a unique amazing building and the Spitting Feathers beer I had was wonderful and luckily I'd sobered myself up enough to enjoy it, and talked to lots of friendly locals gearing up for a big Saturday night out!

427 - Bear n Billet, Chester - Too packed to fully appreciate but again a good positive atmosphere with a nice upstairs area too even if everyone was watching the Chumps league final.  Not surprised so many locals had decided to start their nights out there.

So there you have it, almost at the 430 mark,  thinking Guiseley for the next WY midweek night where I have two to tick off so will see if I can incorporate a third in with them, but let's focus on getting back from Barca unscathed first and maybe some real ale there if I am lucky?  Here's to hoping!


Sunday, 18 May 2014

BRAPA - Shut Pubs, IoW and more from West Yorkshire

It's a summery Sunday evening in York as I sit here blogging from my balcony with the strains of Morning Glory coming from the kitchen.....

I've started encountering a recurring BRAPA problem - guide pubs which are closed, thus slowing me down, causing pointlessly long walks and denying me a 'tick'!  What's going on?

It started at Joshua Brooks in Manchester in truth though I didn't think too much of it at the time in my drunken state and with Ben for company.  Garden Gate in Hunslet was more frustrating.  A long walk from Leeds station (yes, I could've bussed it) to this supposed jewel in the crown now owned by Leeds brewery closed last November due to 'boiler problems' and despite lots of "opening in the new year assurances", it is now mid May and was looking as dead as a doornail to me.  And now, I've encountered it twice in Isle of Wight.  Lake Huron a mile walk from Ryde in the heat was almost as frustrating as Garden Gate, this one closed due to a lack of trade.  And finally, Brading's Dark Horse had been converted into housing - very sad and looks like they'd tried to prevent it, but again, frustrating from a BRAPA point of view.

I've decided these pubs will be now overlooked til the next guide is published and if, they are still in (unlikely or impossible in some cases), I may give them another go if definitely open!  If I know!

Isle of Wight was superb, the last West Yorkshire day involved way too much effort for sum total of two pubs but never mind.  Here's what I've ticked off since we last spoke:

409 - Victory Pub & Kitchen - Weetwood (a good trek from Headingley, nice pint in sun almost made it worth it but in truth was very much a hotel bar).
410 - West End House, Kirkstall (more pubby and less foody than I'd expected which was pleasing but the arsehole locals at the bar and foody focus meant it didn't quite convince.
411 - Simeon Arms, Ryde (lovely friendly backstreet local with nice outdoor back area which was so peaceful, tucked away well off the IoW they want the tourists to see).
412 - Waterfront, Shanklin (got the last table in the sun so good views along Shanklin esplanade and sea front, good guest ale but bit limited but still better than most sea front bars).
413 - Castle, Sandown (another gem, another nice outdoor drinking experience - it did have a local feel as everyone knew everyone but didn't make me feel isolated.  Pointing witch was a nice quirk!
414 - S Fowler, Ryde (a Wethers, even by the guide's admission lacking in charisma but despite the clarty Wethery nature of my pint, it did a job, was busy and felt fairly friendly in a hustly bustly nature).
415 - King Harry's Bar, Shanklin (back to where I was based, lovely quirky building and amazing garden so sat out despite being cooler by now, chatted to some friendly locals which was amusing).
416 - Chine Inn, Shanklin (very old and supposedly haunted by blue girl and old man in corner, felt really old like a smugglers cavern, glad to be in drinking area as had a huge restauranty area which seemed busy).

So, what with Barcelona next Monday, I'm conscious of not doing too much and burning out after this crazy weekend but West Yorkshire BRAPA is a Tuesday possibility only as I'm gardening all day.  It all depends on logistics but the Greengates/Idle 3 pub plan is tempting.

Next Saturday and I've had Colwyn Bay booked for ages.  Don't want people saying "I told you so" but the long walk and bussing seems a step too far so am using same tickets to have a Chester day, keep it simpler, as trains stop there anyway.  Really pleased I've thought of this and should get some good final May BRAPA ticks before Barca.

Updates to follow.  SE

Tuesday, 13 May 2014

BRAPA - May the force be with me

Good evening lords, ladies and gentlemen,

Friday sees the long waited, much anticipated Isle of Wight adventure, and to be honest, I haven't thought much about which pubs I'll be visiting.  The saddest thing is having to leave my Osborne House trip until another time now that my trip is shorter (what were the chances of Hull City getting to the cup final?) to maximize my BRAPA time on the Friday in Ryde, Shanklin and wherever else.

For now, my focus is on my 3rd West Yorkshire midweek BRAPA which will hopefully take in Hunslet, Weetwood and Kirkstall, thus completing the 'outer' Leeds set, meaning I'll have to delve deeper into West Yorkshire.  Think Bradford, Idle, Greengates, Shipley, Baildon and beyond.  Almost scary!

Since I last "blogged", I've done the following BRAPA ticks:

399 - Three Hulats - Chapel Allerton (pleased with my bussing, less pleased with my beer quality)
400 - Regent, Chapel Allerton (a fitting pub to bring up a landmark, everyone I know seemed to have been apart from me!)
401 - East of Arcadia, Meanwood (was another Market Towns Tavern tick too, modern but good ale)
Then, I remembered I'd done 3 Horwich pubs pre-Bolton a couple of seasons ago, taking me to 404!
Ben then reminded me I had indeed done the Waterhouse in Manchester (405) so another Wether tick.
Then, pre Man Utd on my birthday, got a few more....
406 .... Angel, Manchester (Superb experience, free goats cheese n fig tart too!)
407 - Micro Bar, Manchester (shopping centre food court, but it still worked - I think...)
408 - Font, Manchester (bit trendy but can't criticize beer range and quality).
We frustratingly did a lot of non-guide pubs and the Joshua Brooks was closed but progress nonetheless.

So, 408 and hopefully 3 more tomorrow, then more IOW day so keeping my quotas up of course with bloody Barca soon to slow down my quest.  I feel I will become an ascended pub spirit if I achieve this.