I didn’t want this to sound like one of those, ‘Oh look at us, we’ve been out on a pub crawl with Roger Protz‘ sort of posts. We didn’t anyway, he came out with us and that’s who this post is really about.
I knew Roger was keen to take us round St Albans. It was the first thing he mentioned when I bumped into him at GBBF in the summer, the venue having been selected for a re-match during the Pub Tickers crawl in Sheffield last December.
These sort of do’s are always a beggar to sort out and the more people who want to come the harder it becomes to coordinate, but we managed to turn out nine. It’s not like they are private affairs neither and like our regular “Proper Days Out’ anyone is welcome. Just have a look on the Beer and Pubs Forum.
Having been on the original Sheffield gig, BRAPA ‘Visiting every pub in the CAMRA Good Beer Guide before I die!’ was the big no show. He tweeted something about having a proper job, more to do with a bank than the Cornish brewer. The rest of us homed into a St Albans pub at 12pm sharp on a very pleasant, more summer than autumnal, Monday.
I’d never met @StephenPie before, until he walked into the Robin Hood a couple of yards in front of us with his cute little dog Lulu. A local chap and Chelsea supporter who likes a pint or two and currently doing a tour of St Albans pubs with Elvis, blogging about it at Piepubs. I was disappointed when Elvis did a Simey BRAPA Everitt and knocked.
Roger stood the first round. It’s always nice when the world’s greatest beer writer buys you a beer. He was quite upset when Mrs C told him the Swan & Talbot in Wetherby had closed down, as it featured in his Historic Coaching Inns of the Great North Road book.
There are some regulars on these Proper Days Out as they have become to be called. You’ll all have heard about Retired Martin (Taylor) and his Good Beer Guide ticking exploits. Similarly Pubcurmudgeon, who was missing on this occasion, presumed AWOL with BRAPA and Elvis?
The one you might not have heard of is ‘the other Mudgie’ aka Paul Mudge. Then again you might have if you read What’s Brewing and Beer magazine because he got the double up this month with a letter in both, not the first time neither. His social media profile is relatively flat, but this veteran campaigner and pub man is an absolute gent and always the first name on the team sheet.
In terms of Pub Tickers we were in the company of royalty as Duncan Mackay aka Pubmeister has actually completed the CAMRA Good Beer Guide for 2015, visiting all the pubs in the guide during the same year of publication. He’s also visited every pub in the Good beer Guide between 2013 and 2018, but not necessarily in the relevant year of issue. On a different front, he’s done every UK League Football ground, as well as the non league ones and some that don’t even know they’re going to be football grounds yet.
It’s a bit complicated this GBG ticking thing, but believe me Duncan is the King and there was much sizing up, and comparing, going on between interested parties. Peter Allen, aka Pubs: Then and Now aka Photo Digital Art was most honoured to be allowed to ‘highlight’ one of Retired Martin’s latest ticks in the revered tome. It can only be a matter of time before Martin is a GBG completist. But what will he do then? Probably collect Moths like Duncan.
At one stage there seemed to be a lot of excitement over an edition of Ullage , the West Berkshire CAMRA magazine. Someone started burning it and photos were taken, I’m not sure what it was all about? Thankfully it wasn’t a copy of New Full Measure.
I have to say, I was most impressed with the fine city St Albans which I’d sum up as being a bit like York, without the walls. The Abbey is magnificent and surely must be up there on the list of the largest Cathedrals in the UK? We walked past it a couple of times and even got lost in the grounds owing to renovations blocking a path, but the illuminated views were worth the detour.
I was reassured by how busy the pubs were, considering it was after half term, and there’s no shortage of them in the city. All told, we did seven and some had a pint in every one, which is quite a feat for a bunch of older blokes with dodgy tickers and other age related ailments. Thing was it wasn’t really about the beer. It was more about the pubs, but above all it was about the people, because isn’t that what makes a good pub?
I’d like to thank Roger and Martin for organising and all who came and spread the love around the pubs of St Albans. Like my Grandma used to say, ‘A proper red letter day’.