The Good Beer Guide 2021 has had a chequered life. Many of the pubs in it have only been open six month or less, sverely denting the ticker’s progress.
And the new entries we’ve had to do have once again favoured micros and brewery taps, cricket clubs and gastropubs.
I must speak the truth; the micros are getting better. Let’s take Bexleyheath, which provides my last two South-east London ticks 20 minutes aprt.
My main gripe with small bars historically is their discomfort, often high tables round a wall*, the sense of a mates drinking club wanting to keep noisy youngsters out**, an aversion to anything but cask, and “challenging” opening hours.
But over the last year or so I’m finding that the new micros are just small pubs, with a good mix of folk and selling as much lager and gin as beer. Prime example, the Stop Inn Time in Brinsworth, or most of Middlesbrough and Preston.
I really liked the Kentish Belle, whose owner has proved controversial in CAMRA circles for some years, which I expect was completely coincidental to its highly delayed entry to the GBG.
Nicholas caught me taking a photo of the Co-op next to his micro, and after an explanation about my Co-op fetish seemed OK.
Proper seating, and if Pub Curmudgeon ever makes it this far into London he can always fling the cushions away.
I do like reading Trip Advisor reviews of pubs, particularly from locals;
“He then kept lemon, but at no time offered to pay for lemon.” is the best complaint about a pub I’ve seen since “Shut. 0/10“.
I just had a half of Twickenham (3.5) and enjoyed a chat about errant regulars and campervans. It was all very relaxed,
although the upstairs Gents doesn’t appear to have a door. I guess I’m old-fashioned.
Nice touch with the grapefruit hand wash recycled from the craft murk.
The Bexley Beer Guide bonanza continued in Barneshurst, 20 minutes away. It is mandatory that a Bexley micro is located in a row of shops, tucked between newsagent and estate agent.
The Bird & Barrel was my toughest London tick, seemingly only open 18 hours a week between Friday and Sunday, and so tiny you take your chances finding a seat.
I took the seat underneath the sign, safely separated from humanity by perspex.
I couldn’t see a thing, but I could see everyone seemed to be eating, and not scratchings. What is this place ? And how could you ever have a conversation with anyone else in the pub ? Bring your own friends, I guess.
A lovely chap came and took my order, which involved me asking what they had and saying “half of that, please” to the first thing. The beer, a Kentish Pale from Hills & Holes (?), was superb(NBSS 3+), but I couldn’t feel comfortable at all, and yearned for a pint in the Courage pub down the lane.
But that’s not how the GBG works, is it ?
*e.g. A micro in a Wiltshire town that rhymes with Hoozey.
e.g. A micro in a Sussex town that rhymes with Durving.