If BRAPA ever writes a novel he might well devote a whole chapter to the Red Lion in Penderyn, one of the most bizarre experiences of the year.

If Aberdare is a Valleys Leiston, a town tourists avoid completely or stop by to stock up at Lidl, then Penderyn is its Dunwich, a honeypot drawing in Guardian readers for “Hay Baked Carrot” and “Sous Vide Cod“.


Some menu ideas for Aberdare Spoons there.

But you can forgive it the focus on food, tucked away on the southern edge of the Brecons in a village not designed for the 4x4s tipping up for lunch.

You can gauge a lot by reading the Trip Advisor reviews, as here. Here you’ll see phrases like “to die for“, “divine” and “Caroline“, which tell you all you need about their West London custom.

Red Lion
Rhondda Cynon Taf, as they say

Anyone who’s been to the Rat in Anick, Northumberland will recognise the Red Lion.  An ancient destination restaurant making a gallant effort to be a pub, 80% of tables taken over by condiment fussers, a small area to the right for drinkers with no-one in it.


A huge list of beers too.

Don’t worry, no-one is sitting at the bar

No-one serving though, so I went and stood round the corner at the other side of the bar with my change, preparing an attempt to order the Crwr house beer in my worst pronunciation.

No-one came to the bar, the entire staff engaged in the delivery of “amuse bouche” or looking for the right sort of mustard.

I can wait. I’m retired.  And I had Bass mirrors to admire.

Wouldn’t fit in my jacket pocket

After a few minutes a friendly young lady came over to where I was standing and  looked at me, bewildered (to be fair, Mrs RM does that a lot).

Pint of the Red Lion please

Can I bring it to your table ? We’re a bit busy with drink orders

I’m not at a table, I’m just in for a beer

So, do you want me to go round the bar and get you a beer ?”

Oh yes please!”

Two minutes later, conspiratorially;

Er, can you move to the other bar. Please ?”  Standing at the restaurant bar was clearly not allowed.

Back in the public, nothing happened for five minutes except the word “Sorry” being mouthed as I stood at the bar.  I’m not making this up.

Oh, what’s that I see, hidden away

And then it clicked.  The poor girl had never served a pint of beer before.

Sorry.  I’ve never pulled a pint before”   Aw, bless.

I’d just seen the barrel of Bass.  “Can I have a Bass please ?”

A look of terror crossed her face as she contemplated the prospect of gravity dispense.  I felt like a heartless sod.

You’re doing well !”  I said.  This is blog gold, I thought.

She did splendidly.  Only 12 minutes after arrival I had a pint of Bass.

Yes !

It could have been a classic experience, a great beer in a lovely pub. Sadly, the Bass was warm and past its best.

I wasn’t taking it back. I watered the flowers again.




  1. I’d have walked before I was ever asked to move to the other bar.

    Assuming this is a GBG pub, have you considered creating an additional page ‘GBG pubs that shouldn’t be in the guide (and why)’. It could become the beer connoisseurs unbible.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Beer quality is the only criterion for inclusion and exclusion, and even here someone will tell me I should have taken it back. In truth, it wasn’t undrinkable, just warm and lacking freshness.


      1. I would disagree. I have done judging for Cider POTY and there is a scoring criteria based on several different categories. Surely if we have a scoring category for branch, region and national POTY then the same criteria should be applied to GBG selection as you can’t be POTY without being in GBG. Anyhow, just get on setting that ‘name and shame’ page up.


      2. I agree more with Martin here – the GBG is what it says on the tin, a guide to good beer, whereas other considerations come into play when judging PoTY. Having said that, if a pub is actively unwelcoming to non-diners IMV it shouldn’t be included. By that criterion, I’d say the Cavens Arms in Dumfries shouldn’t really be in, although maybe different standards apply in Scotland.

        My branch once voted a pub as PoTY in January (undeservingly, to my mind) and then proceeded to not select it for the GBG the following month.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Agree in principle, though “actively unwelcoming to non-diners” a matter of degree, as Stockport will know. Belfast had an entry recently that would only serve you a pint with a meal, a definite no-no. This Wlsh place had no-one at the bar at all, just not expecting any drinkers.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. That story had everything. Now that the Oscars has introduced a new category of Most Popular Film I expect you’ll be dusting odd your tuxedo. Now let’s talk names. The fashion is for one word like Moonlight or Spotlight, but Bass could be misconstrued. How about Finding Bass?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That combines my two favourite films; “Finding Nemo” and “Pulling a pint of Bass instruction manual”. Good call.

      I wonder how you’d have coped with the trauma, let alone BRAPA. Nor something you come across in the Prospect.

      Liked by 2 people

  3. “Er, can you move to the other bar. Please ?” might have been because she noticed you had your eye on the Bass mirror.
    “Only 12 minutes after arrival I had a pint of Bass” whereas 12 minutes after arrival at the Green Man at Milwich you would have just started your second pint of Bass.
    .”The Bass was warm and past its best” will be because it’s been the hottest summer since 1976 and they’ve got six, not one or two, cask beers on.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Wes,
      During the summer of 1976 I kept a cask of beer, coincidently from the same brewery, at home cool enough using towelling and cold water but it took quite a bit of my time.
      In this pub more attention is probably paid to the Hay Baked Carrot and Sous Vide Cod that it is to the Draught Bass.

      Liked by 2 people

  4. “and “Sous Vide Cod“.”

    Pfft. That’s a sneaky way of commenting on global warming (i.e. the oceans are getting hotter!… so the cod slowly cooks itself). (LOL)

    “A huge list of beers too.”

    Do I see Bass?

    “Only 12 minutes after arrival I had a pint of Bass.”

    Doesn’t it usually only take you six to drink it?

    “Yes !”

    I just figured out why you prefer a certain type of glass. 😉

    “I watered the flowers again.”

    Directly or indirectly? 🙂


    PS – “I’d just see the barrel of Bass.”

    I think that should be ‘seen’, but I’ll put it down to your excitement at actually seeing it. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  5. “If BRAPA ever writes a novel” –But Simon’s blog IS a novel, as is yours; we’re just reading it in installments.

    Loved how you were able to deduce the type of customers by way of the phrases they use in their Trip Advisor reviews!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Service probably wasn’t much slower than in the average Wetherspoons and at least there’s a Bass mirror to look at while you’re waiting here.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Barmaid actually being a waitress with no clue about serving a pint sort of sums up the problems of British pubs in the present day. 30 years ago somewhere like this would still have had the actual publican behind the bar looking after things.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. I’d say the disappearance of the old boys came first; the decline in beer quality was the inevitable outcome. That’s what I keep going on about – that kind of regular, couple of pints at lunchtime or esrly evening, drinking, is no longer done like it once was.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. “That kind of regular, couple of pints at lunchtime or early evening drinking is no longer done like it once was” but some of us do our best to keep the tradition going- yet any of us could be knocked down by a bus tomorrow so the future’s looking bleak.


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