“Have the real ale; we’re trying to get on to the next barrel !”

Back up to Durham, where I seemed to be stalking BRAPA, or perhaps vice versa. Half a dozen ticks, and a burning urge to return to Bishop Auckland.

It’s not a rich town, but it has a richness of history and architecture and landscape few towns can match.

And of course, it is the home of the House of (S)mudge, presumably a gallery of curmudgeonliness.

Bishop doesn’t have a good record with beer quality, four (4) previously entries failing my minimum GBG standard (NBSS 3). How would the hidden in the backstreet “Welcome” shape up ?

As with BRAPA earlier/later/who knows, I had the challenge of getting the killer outside shot with all eyes on me. It’s an art, getting surreptitious shots.

At the bar, the cheery barmaid awaited my order. I saw only lager and the John Smiths Smooth recommended by the locals to Simon.

But then I spotted a shamefaced pump hiding from view on the left hand side.

Oh, and the pump clips on the bar.

Gae on, drink the real ale, we’re tryna get ro’ of it and wann a new one put on*” said check-shirt man with neat moustache, with a wink.

That’s not exactly a ringing endorsement of cask, sort of implying it was put on a week ago.

I’m helping you then ?”

Aye, it’s Ossett Voodoo next, whatever that is“. I tried not to sound interested in all this beer talk.

Anyway, it was great. Whatever it was. Ah, just remembered, S43 Brewery. I thought that was Sheffield but apparently it’s Coxhoe up the road.

Cool, smooth, almost too smooth, Citra like in fact. An easy 3.5.

“That beer’s gotta go off, I demand it !” said someone. Oh, two ale drinkers. A record for a Durham pub.

Radio Ga Ga” gave way to Whitney Houston and it was like 1988 never happened. At £2.80 a pint, perhaps it never did.

A very civilised boozer in the Essex style that BRAPA knows so well, with a toddler in the corner that said “bubble“. Perhaps it was his (or her) first word, perhaps they were named after a Big Brother contestant. Who cares.

He’s a canny lad. He had the corned beef” said someone as I too my glass back, and left to the sound of Starship (the second dreadful ’80s perm-rock one, obviously).

A gem, and it lived up to its name.

*His accent wasn’t really that Geordie to be fair.

16 thoughts on ““Have the real ale; we’re trying to get on to the next barrel !”

  1. I do enjoy the overheard bits of conversation: “He’s a canny lad. He had the corned beef.” This place looks like a nice neighborhood pub that gives the locals what they want, and also provides visitors from farther afield with a wink and a pleasingly irreverent comment about the real ale. 😉

    Was Radio Ga Ga a big hit in England? It didn’t get much airplay over here, as I recall.


    1. It’s great having pointless conversation across tables back.

      Radio Ga Ga was massive, probably second only to Bohemian Rhapsody in the UK consciousness. Still played a lot, particularly on local radio stations.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Queen basically entered the same camp as Culture Club, Frankie, Spandau, Wham and the Durans at that point, knocking out chart-friendly pop through ’84/5 and leaving the indie kids to New Order, the Smiths, the Fall etc etc.


      1. I think that’s exaggeration to prove a point but probably true in some cases ! A few years back Simon and I visited a remote Welsh pub a week apart and found a York Guzzler in increasingly dreadful condition. We’re convinced it was the same barrel.


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