Or 'A Man With a Mission' !!
People who read the blog regularly will have realised that out of the editorial team, I am what is politely referred to as a beer 'ticker'. For those unfamiliar with the term, it means that I dash about the country sampling beers that are new to me and keeping a list of them. I play by my own rules, as most tickers do, but basically I record anything that I have drunk a half pint of in a pub, or at a festival.
My list started back in 1990 when I discovered the joys of different beers at 'The Barge & Barrel' in Elland and still continue 20 years later. I really started doing it seriously when I retired in 2008 and this is the story of a special day in my life this week, going for my 10,000th beer. To mark this occasion, which admittedly had sneaked up on me somewhat, I decided that I would try to drink the beer in my favourite pub, and make it one from my favourite brewery and if possible mark the event on my birthday.
Things started badly. Due to personal commitments I could not manage it on Wednesday, the chosen day (make a note in your diary to send me a card next year!!), so yesterday was the next best thing. I rechecked the total beers I needed and discovered that another six would let me achieve my target. I knew a trip to Manchester or Sheffield would give me my total, but felt I owed it to myself to stay reasonably local. A bit of research and the good will of one of my local licencees was called for to make sure that what I hoped would be my record beer was on the bar at 5pm.
So armed with a day-rider I set off for Brighouse, and first stop was Wetherspoons 'Richard Oastler'. It was really more in hope than expectation but here I found Summer Wine 'Erebus', a dark beer, not to my taste, but a tick nonetheless. Then it was on to the 'Ship'. I knew they had a house beer brewed for them which was new to me, Dark Horse 'Shipwrecked' and fortunately it was on the bar, although at 5.3% it was a bit weighty for lunchtime. Four more to go.
Back to town. A quick look in the 'Cherry Tree', 'Kings Head' and 'Head of Steam' surprisingly revealed nothing new. That left me with four beers required but just four pubs in which to find them. Desperation was setting in. A trip to the 'Sportsman' paid dividends though and I found a new Mallinsons, the 3.6% 'Wipe Out'. A good easy drinking session beer, and nice and hoppy too. I had at least achieved part of my plan, a beer from my favourite brewery. But could I still manage to find another three?
Next stop 'The Grove', and another success. I did not just find a new beer here but also a new brewery - Trinity 'High Light' became the next on the list. Another light hoppy beer and very pleasant too. Things were picking up. Would the 'Rat & Ratchet' provide number 9,999? I was more than impressed to walk in and find a new Fernandes on the bar. 'Nightjar' was 3.8% and again light and hoppy. It did taste of ginger but whether it was intentional I'm not sure, it just seems that everything out of that brewery is a little tainted at the moment. I was unconcerned - just one more to go.
So with one pub left and just the one beer needed it was off to 'The Star' and on the bar there it was - Green Mill 'Wheat Beer' (4.3%) a clear, easy drinking beer from Rochdale. I had achieved my aim, the 10,000th beer, in my favourite pub! All right I had cheated a bit as I did know there was a new beer on - the mobile phone can be wonderful invention sometimes!
What now? Well I am a mere novice in the ticking stakes when I compare myself to Denis or Robin locally, and am not even in the frame when it comes to the master ticker Brian from Sheffield. He has upwards of 40,000 and can be seen around the country with his shopping trolley collecting beers. Nevertheless, I totally enjoy it. I see new places, drink in nice pubs and meet some great people, many of who I am proud to class as friends. So, all being well, its off to Sheffield again today for more new beers. Here's to the next 10,000. Cheers!