Two days into GBG20 (the embargo days, anyway) and my first non-traditional tick.
Loads of Beer Guide entries that don’t look like a Sam Smiths or a Marston’s 2-for-1, of course, and more by the year, even ignoring all those converted banks and shoe cupboards that are now Spoons and micropubs.
And don’t get me started on the Brewery Taps with their heroic opening hours.
I was tempted just to nick wholesale from the Pubmeister’s definitive text for examples again, but a quick flick through the GBG reveals;
Clubs of every flavour – Liberal, Conservative, Catholic, Masonic, Brass Band, Ukrainian, Cricket, Snooker. The potential for merger is huge.
There’s a pub/Chinese restaurant on a grain barge (Peterborough), Airport bars, bookshops (Falmouth), station waiting rooms (Durham), and two “pubs” that you can’t actually drink inside. Both in Cleethorpes.
There even used to be a barbers in (or course) hipster Birkenhead, but I see that the Wirral no longer gets its hair cut in pubs.
Berkshire alone has the Binfield Club, Reading University staff bar, Maidenhead Conservative Club, Wargrave Snooker Club, and Sir Quinno’s private tasting rooms (5th Thursday of the month only).
My third tick of GBG20 was at Mildenhall Town FC.
I confess I thought I’d exhausted Mildenhall‘s potential in 2016.
But I tipped up last Thursday clutching my CAMRA Gold Card, hoping that a) the What Pub times are right and b) I wouldn’t be asked why I was there and be lulled into giving away their imminent GBG entry.
Instead the chap at the entrance said,
“Sorry, you can’t go to the club. There’s a match on tonight”
But I could go in if I went to the match. So I did. It was the FA Youth Cup match against King’s Lynn, and only £3.
In the very typical club bar, the beer was less than £3, so the football was virtually free.
Ah, the enthusiastic club bar steward, sticking on a Crouch Vale alongside the Greene King to give the best ale choice in town (not hard).
I went for the new, super-powered IPA, of course.
“Are you a member ?” said the nice lady.
“I’m a CAMRA member” flashing the card.
“What’s that ?” Still, the beer was poured, the discount given cheerily.
Really, pretty good IPA (NBSS 3+).
I’m not a club man. Long tables, loud sports, and you’re unlikely to have much conversation 20 minutes before kick-off.
But the GBG rewards beer quality, as it does here.
Hard to avoid conversation at Non-League grounds, though. And the scout for Aston Villa (he actually lived down the road for me) was fascinating company for an hour.
Some really good football, too, particularly from a King’s Lynn team whose 20 odd goal attempts eventually carried them to a 3-1 victory and a glamour tie against Brantham Athletic in the next round.
“Brantham Athletic ? Who are they ?”