Easter Monday was celebration time as Birmingham avoided any last day dramas with a 3-1 win at Rotherham.
With Championship football secured for another season we all felt a little bit cheated that we hadn’t done it on the last day for the fourth time in six seasons even though the EFL tried their best with a nine-point deduction.
But Gary Monk has proved himself to be as popular manager as I can remember down in Small Heath and there is almost optimism in the air ahead of next season.
Temper all of that of course with the woeful start Warwickshire have made to the new cricket campaign and being a supporter of sports teams in the Second City is never straightforward (anyone remember Birmingham Bullets?).
But celebration time it was and with Mrs BB watching my choice of celebratory pub like a hawk after visiting a fantastic local canalside boozer pub that hadn’t floated her boat last time out, I needed to pull out the stops.
What better way to get her back onside than a visit to the boozer of a Derby punk rock legend in Burton? To be fair, Martin Roper, erstwhile lead singer of Anti-Pasti (I am sure Duncan, in the seventies, or BRAPA, at Blackpool, will have seen them live) has a good track record of reviving boozers.
(Bit of bona fide punk on a pub wall…)
He had The Exeter Arms and Old Silk Mill in Derby and was/is doing a great job with them although some bright spark decided to take back the tenancy off him with the Silk Mill and I’ve not been there since and will be interested to see how they could make it any better.
He’s since added a couple more in Chesterfield and Belper, which meet with the approval of Derbyshire beer guru Colston Crawford, and his style of pub is right up mine and Mrs BB’s more importantly, street.
A top class selection of beers and gins,
old school beermats,
funky décor and top notch pub food are the staples, but each of his pubs has their own identities.
Such as 388 – The Crossing DE14 1JS on the High Street in Burton and you’ve only got to look at CAMRA’s website to see it has had a varied past.
Caliente, Brewers Bar, Cosmo, InnStitute, Cosmopolitan and The Blue Posts are all previous incarnations and my mate who has lived in Burton for years reckoned it was a bit like the Wild West when it was The Blue Posts.
Best check that out with The Wickingman who is my go to man for info about dodgy night outs in Burton so should be able to confirm he was a regular…
One of its many guises saw it as a Bass house and even though the daddy of all cask ales was on, it was a scorcher and after last year’s Bass cask ale lottery in the summer, I put on hold my membership of the BAS (Bass Appreciation Society) including Mudgie, Martin, Pete and Ian and had a pint of Hop Twister (Salopian) as everyone knows, including renowned beer sommelier Rich, you can’t have a bad pint of Salopian.
(not bad but not amazing)
This was one was decent enough although not award winning and I reckon I made the right choice on this occasion as I still reckon six wickets is too many in a boozer, even in the cricket season.
Mrs BB was delighted with her gin which contained fruits I’ve never heard of and mixers I’ve never heard of.
The food was good and this 18th Century pub had steady trade in the boozer and out the back in the beer garden. There’s a distinct dining area, as in all his pubs, but also lots of ‘pubbiness’ and covers all bases well.
I know Burton is well served with classic boozers but I do like this place as it is making a success of a pub that looked a nailed on cert to be closed and redeveloped but Roper seems to have the magic touch.
(the building next door!)
The late great Alan Winfield though these places weren’t quite pubby enough for him but I’m a fan and its current moniker emanates from L.S.Lowry’s 1961 painting “Level crossing, Burton-on-Trent.”
I’m not quite sure what Alan would make of the blurb on the website, which says “Dine cosily within our eclectic decor-fusion of vintage neon lighting, imported Japanese Wallpapers and Victorian taxidermy, or enjoy wonderful drinks and bar foods with friends and family within our large bar area accommodating the real ale aficionados of north Staffordshire.”
He’d like the beer selection though and the fact it feels like a proper pub.
(view from the car park…)
This probably won’t feature on any Ale Trails as it’s not a Micro/Tap House or steeped in history as one iconic boozer but it’s well worth a visit.
Mrs BB is a fan and with Blues beating Rotherham it could become my new lucky charm boozer…