This is Pete. His sense of optimism has not been dimmed by a lifetime supporting Crystal Palace. He also runs a cracking micropub in Burton called The Last Heretic.
Ah Burton-on-Trent, spiritual Home to the British brewing industry where plenty of beer is brewed and there remain many good pubs. http://www.closedpubs.co.uk/staffordshire/burtonontrent.html lists nearly 50 that have closed, including this one.
Burton is also a breeding ground for a new generation of micropubs. The Last Heretic is named after Edward Wrightman, the last Christian martyr to be burnt alive, in 1612. Dr John feasted on the Abbeydale Lost Souls, a 10% Russian Imperial Stout. I enjoyed a citrusy glass of Wantsum Dynamo (4.3%) from Kent.
In conversation with Pete, it transpired he is good friends with Reg, a Reading FC fan I know well and who is also working his way round every country in the world. He and Pete have travelled to well over 150 countries on their mission. This is the flag of their most recently visited nation. A lifetime free subscription to this blog for anyone who can identify it without googling.
Later, at our chosen match at Hilton Harriers (chosen because they moved it to an all weather pitch away from their usual venue – a groundhopping priority) I bumped into Steve, a friend who is also a Reading fan, amongst the 24 spectators present. And the club official who kindly forwarded match programmes was brought up going to the late and lamented Elm Park.
We shared tales of the great Robin Friday. For more about his outrageous talent, off field exploits and tragically short career, read ‘The Greatest Footballer You Never Saw’ by Paulo Hewitt and former Oasis bass guitarist Paul McGuigan. My recollection is that one story features Friday taking a dump in the Mansfield Town dressing room bath after being sent off for retaliation, following a fearful kicking from the home defenders.
Not a good season for Reading on or off the pitch as this record-breaking University Challenge final score shows.
Pete told us about another nearby micropub, The Weighbridge, next to the fine one time Midland Railway Grain Warehouse. Three beers on, including two from Falstaff. It is in an ideal space for such a venture but has recently changed hands apparently.
At the other end of town is another GBG-listed micropub, the Fuggle and Nugget.
It served un-reproachable beer with unapproachable toilets (the location not the condition). A friendly place where care is taken to make the visitor welcome in a understated way.
The trio of Burton’s new Good Beer Guide entries was the Dog Inn, a solid Black Country Ales House. All good selections from @BurtonCAMRA a branch that must have some lively debate about what excellent pubs to exclude in a proper drinking area.