An interview with …

An interview with the author, Sunday 19th July 2015, North Bar, Leeds …

Q.    ‘So, what got you into blogging about beer and pubs Rich?’

R.    ‘Well, I’d sort of got into writing in a big way. Mainly short stories and poetry, as part of a Creative writing degree. I sort of wanted to see how easy it was to create and build a profile on social media … sort of an experiment really. I just sort of fell into it then.’

Q.    ‘Okay, but why beer writing?’

R.    ‘It’s as much about pubs as it is about beer …’

Q.    ‘Okay – ’

R.    ‘They sort of go hand in hand to me … pubs and beer, like. You can’t have one without the other.’

Q.    ‘Okay, but why not say … food? I know you’re into food and cooking …’

R.    ‘Don’t know. I guess it’s because there’s so much out there in terms of beer and pubs. It’s sort of so accessible and I enjoy it. You know, I got involved with running a beer fest a few years ago and it sort of developed from there … maybe it’s because I was brought up in a boozer?’

Q.    ‘Lets park the beer fest thing for a minute. You were brought up in a pub?’

R.    ‘Yeah, from being a little kid, six or seven. Mum and Dad ran it for close on thirty years.’

Q.    ‘Which pub?’

R.    ‘Rose and Crown, Ingbirchworth … it’s sort of near Sheffield or Barnsley. No it’s not, it’s near Penistone and Penistone is just Penistone, there’s no where else I know like it. Unique pennine South Yorkshire. It’s not there now, there’s half a dozen houses instead … the pub, not Penistone. After my parents retired someone bought it and tried to run it as a food place but it didn’t last. Small village, expensive housing, can’t sustain one boozer, let alone two.’

Q.    ‘Fond memories?’

R.    ‘Happy days … there’s something about it …’

Q.    ‘What do you mean Rich?’

R.    ‘Don’t know … ‘

Q.    ‘Something about your folks pub?’

R.    ‘No, about all pubs -‘

Q.    ‘Like what?’

R.    ‘ A sort of a smell, a feeling you get … from a really good pub.’

Q.    ‘What do you mean?’

R.    ‘You know when you walk into a boozer first thing in a morning … you have to savour it because it only lasts for seconds. Sunlight through the windows, dust motes and that smell of beer; fresh beer just pulled through, mingled with a bit of stale beer from the night before. You used to get that stale ciggy smell as well. Unmistakeable. If a pub doesn’t smell right then it’s not a good pub. You know what I mean?’

Q.    ‘Sort of …’

R.    ‘You can tell a crap pub by the smell of it, or the absence of a good smell.’

Q.    ‘Like what?’

R.    ‘Cleaning products; Duraglit or Brasso, proper wax polish, a touch of line cleaner, proprietary disinfectants from the toilets.’

Q.    ‘Toilets …’

R.    ‘Yeah, the bogs are really important. There’s far too many boozers with crap toilets, if you pardon the pun. There’s no excuse for it neither. I know it’s not a pleasant task, but ten minutes every day with some bleach a scrubbing brush and a pair of rubber gloves. If they’ve polished up any exposed copper pipe work then you know that someone who takes pride in what they do is in charge. I mean, if the bogs are disgusting what’s it going to be like in the parts you can’t see, like the cellar?’

Q.    ‘Okay. What else makes a good pub?’

R.    ‘The people. The regulars. I like regular customers, characters. All people from all walks of life thrown together in alcohol fuelled camaraderie. My Dad reckons that if everyone who went into his pub on Christmas day visited once a week for the rest of the year then he would have been a rich man, you get what I mean? If people don’t go to their local then they won’t have one to go to.’

Q.    ‘Anything else?’

R.    ‘Hard to be proscriptive really. I could say that the epitome of a good boozer is a traditional one with a proper Landlord or Landlady, but I’d be lying. I like modern bars. I love Brewdog and the concept. We’re sat chatting in one of my favourite bars now. In fact North bar would get into my all time top ten. Mind you their bogs could be better, not disgusting, but they could be better. That’s one of the curses of a lot of newer places, they weren’t built as bars and the toilets are in the cellar, no fresh air.’

Q.    ‘So you like different sorts of places?’

R.    ‘Pubs, bars, restaurants, crossovers, beer tents, beer festivals.’

Q.    ‘Anywhere with beer then?’

R.    ‘It’s more complicated than that.’

Q.    ‘Okay, so what sort of beer do you like?’

R.    ‘All sorts of beer … essentially I’m a pint of draught beer man when it come to pubs though.’

Q.    ‘What do you mean by that?’

R.    ‘Well. I’m not someone that goes out and drinks like, something costing five quid for a half of esoteric wizardry. Like a good wine or whisky, I’d rather save something like that for a quiet night in by the fire. I want something session-able, although I am into strong ales, you’ve got to be careful though.’

Q.    ‘So what would you go for in here?’

R.    ‘Something modern, with a big hop hit, but not too strong. Look, they’ve got Cannonball on, it’s awesome but it’s too strong to drink all afternoon. It’s better than Punk IPA, which is what got me into modern styles when I first went into Bristol Brewdog a good few years ago with my son, before we had one in Leeds. I still like Punk though.’

Q.    ‘So what would you have now Rich?’

R.    ‘This, what we’re drinking now is ideal, massive intense hit of Mosaic hop and it’s only 4.3%, ideal, can’t go wrong.’

Q.    ‘Sorry Rich, what is it we’re drinking?‘

R.    ‘Mosaic pale ale by North riding, they’ve not been going six months and I really like their stuff.’

Q.    ‘Any others?’

R.     ‘Loads. More than you can shake a hairy stick at; Great Heck, Magic Rock, Brass Castle, Elland, Leeds, Kirkstall, Bad Seed … and they’re just a few local ones. You know you’ve got Dark star, Kernel, Oakham and lots of other crackers down south … I like traditional stuff as well. A lot of brewers turn out some really good traditional ales, Mallinson’s, Marble for instance. Oh and there’s Cloudwater in Manchester too, they do some interesting things. Traditional wise, look at Timothy Taylor’s, supreme champion beer with Boltmaker last year, it’s just really good ale.’

Q.    ‘What’s your favourite one though?’

R.    ‘If it’s right, then whatever is in my glass at that time. There’s so many beers, I don’t think I could name a favourite one.’

Q.    ‘What do you drink at home?’

R.    ‘Lager, preferably Bud, but anything if it’s on offer, within reason.’

Q.    ‘Seriously.’

R.    ‘Yeah, if I want a refreshing drink sat in the garden or watching sport on TV … If I want a proper drink then it’s Kirkstall Dissolution extra IPA at the minute, it’s cracking and it’s only two quid a bottle in the local Sainsbury’s at the minute. Thing is you can’t throw four bottles of that down your neck watching the Rhinos on Sky sports and then function like a normal person, it’s over 6%!’

Q.    ‘You mentioned a beer fest?’

R.    ‘Yeah. Clifford Champion Beer Festival, check out the web site.’

Q.    ‘What’s your involvement there.’

R.    ‘A bit of everything, mainly the publicity side of things … I’ve done a lot of the event photography, that’s on the web site as well. Oh, and putting up the bar, humping the barrels onto the racks and that sort of thing. It sort of developed my interest in beery things being involved. A couple of the guys are really into their beers, knowledgeable, you know. I’ve learned a lot from them and made a lot of contacts. We’ve even chatted about starting a micro brewery.’

Q.    ‘Is that something that’s going to happen?’

R.    ‘Not with me it’s not. I wouldn’t mind the brewing bit, but I couldn’t be arsed with all the cleaning up after, that’s a big part of it and it’s not for me. I’d rather just drink it and write about it.’

Q.    ‘Okay, before we wrap up, what’s your favourite pub?’

R.    ‘That’s easy, the one I was brought up in … The Rose and Crown, Ingbirchworth. Legendary.’

Q.    ‘You can’t have that one it’s not there any more, you said.’

R.    ‘That’s a difficult one then. I’ve been compiling a list of my all time top ten boozers. I said already, this one’s in it, got to be, ground breaking and sustaining. Northern Monk’s in it at the minute, probably stay there as well. I wrote a review on another, The Olde Ship inn at Seahouses. I’m still working on the full list. There’s a big time and place element involved. What was once good might not now be. I think there’s plenty of boozers out there that will be on my top ten that I’ve never been in yet … I guess I’ll just keep on looking …’

Q.    ‘Thanks for chatting with me Richard.’

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