What is it with me and beers in Wales? Since discovering that Wales has more than its fair share of fantastic micro-breweries, I've managed to avoid them with a regularity bordering on obsession.
The last time we were there, Mr PBBB was guest of honour at the Wye Valley Brewery which is NEARLY in Wales and as well as driving, I was detoxing. Double whammy.
This weekend I wasn't detoxing but still managed to avoid my fair share of beer.
On Saturday we went to Pontypridd. Now unless the lady who lives inside your satnav is having a nervous breakdown or you've had a strange urge to pay homage to Tom Jones (nothing wrong with that, him being a demi-god and all), it's a town you're unlikely to be passing through. I lived in South Wales for the first half of my life and I don't think I ever passed through either. It's just not that sort of place.
However, if by some miracle you DO pitch up there, make sure you visit what was previously the Bunch of Grapes until a graphic designer got hold of it and is now the Bun Chof Gra Pe S - a lovely little boozer with a great restaurant attached.
We'd been invited by the owner, Nick Otley, who also brews some astonishing beers just around the corner, all of which have the letter O in the name: O-Garden, Columb-O, Dark-O...and some others which haven't.
Once again, my enjoyment of the evening was slightly dampened by being designated driver (between me, Mr PBBB and Captain, I'm the only one who can drive, Mr PBBB being phobic in that department and Captain having an inability to steer without getting distracted by squirrels). Anyway, it meant I was rationed to two half pints for the WHOLE evening, which was unfortunate given where we were and who we were with.
It also meant that by midnight I was the only person capable of stringing a sentence together. Sloshed, the lot of them. Mr PBBB had gone all fuzzy round the edges and was telling over-long anecdotes and pretending he didn't mind if we left before daybreak. Nick was getting misty eyed and sentimental about hops in the way that only a brewer can, and his wife's lovely mate Gina (not her real name - it's better that way) was in that blurred, hiccuppy haze when you just set yourself on a loop of rotating stories and questions in the vain hope that no-one will notice that you've got mascara all down one cheek and can't actually seem to get your glass from the table to your mouth without collateral damage. She won't be reading this as she'll be chewing paracetamol in a darkened room until about Easter, but if you know her, please remind her that she must take her friend to the Angel Hotel, Abergavenny for afternoon tea next week. She'll love it.
So, next time we go to Wales, I'll make sure we're furnished with the number of a local minicab firm - I'll be the one swaying by the bar with lipstick on my teeth saying 'I think you're LOVELY, what did you say your name was again? I think you're LOVELY' and ordering another It's O-kay I'm Not Driving IPA.
The Pub: A Cultural Institution
2 weeks ago