Beer Blog

The Weird and Wonderful World of Pub Tickers!

I wrote about Wapentake when it first opened, it’s still very good, and a regular haunt for me.  As it’s Leeds’ latest entry into the Good Beer Guide Martin Taylor needed to ‘tick’ it off his list. He thought it was typically Leeds, I’m not sure whether that meant the Mancophile liked it or not?

Martin & Simey-1

When I arrived Martin and Simon aka BRAPA were sat poring over Martin’s copy of GBG2018. It goes with him everywhere and it’s still in it’s original cardboard packaging. He said it stopped it getting soiled and tatty. It seemed quite important to him, but that hadn’t stopped him colouring it in, in vivid pink highlighter.

Martin & Simey-3

Martin’s done 10,500 pubs in total, but only ‘ticked’ 3,800 in the current guide, it seems very much a moveable feast, or a ‘paint the Forth Bridge’ sort of task. Simon appears to be a relative novice, he’s only done 1888 pubs, 1143 of which are in the current guide. A bloke called Duncan (I think he writes as Pubmeister) was only 4 pubs short of ticking off the entire guide last year. I couldn’t believe it, I mean, if I was four short I’d just set off in the car and complete the lot. I’d even get a taxi to drive me to them all. I’d ring up and arrange for the local newspaper to be at the final one, TV News even. I’d probably want a fanfare of trumpets too.

This got me thinking. They might be able to rattle precise and impressive figures off the top of their heads, but do they actually want to complete their quest? Is it the thrill of the chase, rather than the crock of gold at the end that drives them? A bit like perpetually wanting to be the bridesmaid, but never the bride?

I’d thought out a little list of pubs to visit, nothing like the serious itinerary on our recent Leicester venture , just a casual route that didn’t mean walking miles. Both of them were really keen to visit The Brunswick. I told them it wouldn’t surprise me if it gets into the GBG next time. The potential for a pre-emptive strike (their words not mine), made their eyes light up.

Martin & Simey-2

The conversation turned to my photo of some girls at the Brunswick bar. I suggested a re-run with the two bloggers? Martin wanted naught to do with a posed image. Simon said he wouldn’t have dared taken the original photo. I saw no problem, I’d chatted with them and asked them before hand; they told me where they would have shoved my camera if I hadn’t asked. I generally ask, looking at some of Simon’s photos , I think he needs to start asking too.

Next stop was Brewdog II (Shuffledog) on North Street. We wanted some of the ‘Live’ Dead Pony so we could submit NBSS scores. They didn’t have any, so we sat and drank some excellent keg beer and wondered when and where the first keg only pub to get in GBG would be?

I was interested in the logistics of their crusade, particularly Simon who doesn’t drive? Martin was booked into the cheapest budget IBIS in West Yorkshire which cut short our evening as a train drivers strike meant the last train back to Bradford was around 8.30pm.

Simon’s a train and bus man. Preferring the train, a bumpy bus ride after a few pints is never recommended. I know the feeling and always pay the 20p Toilet Tax at Leeds bus station before embarking on the bus home, whether I need to or not. I never knew it took longer to get to Cleethorpes from York by train, than it did to London though

The next port of call was the very excellent Templar, a proper pub, full of proper pub people and a range of eight well kept solid ales. Martin declared his Tetley’s as decidedly average, I couldn’t understand why he’d chosen it? ‘Out of sufferance,’ he declared. I guess that’s where we differ, because I don’t do sufferance, and the Kirkstall Three Swords was excellent. There’s no way I could put up with the random hours, odd places and all that BBB in the guide, which led to a discussion around whether there ought to be a Good Pub Guide (or at least a separate section) as well as a Good Beer Guide; there is a subtle difference.

Clearly this ‘ticking’ off in highlighter pen and then entering details onto a spreadsheet is highly addictive, and interesting. Boak and Bailey have been in touch with Martin and Simon. Why not me? I asked. ‘Because you’re normal,’ replied Martin. Clearly I need a mission, ticking off pubs in a regimented fashion, rather than posting at random about places and things I visit, before I get interesting?

Martin & Simey-6

I left them on Vicar Lane as they went off in pursuit of trains, that might not arrive. As they walked off, I heard vague references to Heaton Norris and Hope. I’d never heard of him, and I was uncertain whether the latter was a place or an expression of desire, I returned to Wapentake for a taste of Sunbeam Ales first ever keg beer Foggy Dew and a chat with Nigel the brewer, which as per usual, turned to fishing rather than beer.


24 replies »

  1. I think Duncan was only prevented from completing the full set by finding pubs unexpectedly closed, with which I’m sure you will sympathise.

    Hasn’t the Twisted Barrel Tap House in Coventry already gained the accolade of being the first keg-only pub in the GBG?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, I don’t think Duncan’s inability to tick those 4 was down to lack of effort !

      Didn’t know that about Twisted Barrel, but I’ve certainly been in a few places where all the beer is served through taps on the wall (Euston Tap, Pelt Trader, Bristol Volunteer) where it was hard to tell what was cask/key keg/keg keg without asking.


  2. Not to punish them, but a lot of their readers hope they never finish. The stories they write bring us too much joy. I for one would miss their work. This crawl had to be a wonderful time.


  3. The thing that bemuses me with tickets is as soon as they’ve found an excellent pub with high quality beer they insist on moving on. The sane with beer itself. The pronouncement “That’s stunning” as they down the last drop isn’t grounds for same again. There are other, not necessarily as good, beers to tick.


    • I know what you mean, but I think the ticking is about more than the beer or the pub. What a great journey they have seeing places one would not normally go. By moving on they encounter more people. The people who make up the strange stories we get to read. They do slow down and enjoy at times. You can see it in the writing. But the slowing down is rarely because of a beer. Another good beer is always just around the corner. Unusual places and people are not.

      Liked by 3 people

  4. “and always pay the 20p Toilet Tax at Leeds bus station”

    Good Lord; you have to pay to use the facilities? I thought that was only in France.

    And agree with Mudgie, nice pics of both Si and Martin.


    “were sat poring over Martin’s copy of GBG2018.”

    Full marks for spelling poring correctly. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Photos apart, an excellent insight into obsession. In the Templar I felt compelled to have the house Tetley, it’s a Tetley pub, even though it’s brewed a gazillion miles away and the 3 Swords a mile up the road. The Landlord couldn’t believe it either.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Greatly enjoyed reading this. Thank you, Richard, for the time and care you put into it, both the writing and the photos. I believe that the only thing more addictive than pub ticking is reading the blog updates written by pub tickers. 🙂


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