Sunday 24 April 2016


It’s an early start leaving Kettering around 8:30am. Today we are without Parker, so we are travelling in the Pharp machine with its built-in methane fuelled boosters.  We are joined today by Bogsnorkle making his second trip of the season, although his first experience being in a confined space with Pharp. As it was a long journey back down to Dorset for the third time we stopped off for a fry up at the Little Chef. They say a man is what he eats, so it will come as no surprise to learn that we all went for the Olympic breakfast. The down side of this is that baked beans were included; this on top of last night’s mushy peas, Pharp was potentially volatile. Half an hour later and we were on our way to the first supping session.
We arrived at the Wayland Sixpenny brewery, located in the middle of a farm yard. The Weebles were already downing their second pint, in the incredibly small taproom only about 8 foot square. There were 9 punters already leaning against the walls when the PRATS all piled in. Fuggles ordered 3 pints of Sixpenny Gold, from the back Pharp asked if they sold Doombar, within an instant a very loud hooter was sounded. That was the first £1 in the swear box, I tried to explain that we don’t like Bloody Doombar, again the hooter sounded, that was another £2 in the swear box.  Then before we had a chance to pay for our beers, Pharp’s phone rang, off the hooter went yet again and yet another £1. So we are already £4 down and we haven’t paid for our beer yet. In the end Pharp had a pint of 6d Best; needless to say we kept very quiet for the next few minutes. The Gold was a delightful gold coloured ale and quite refreshing at 4.2%, with a hint of citrus, very nice and in good condition. The 6d Best is a fairly typical session ale rich amber coloured with a strength of 3.8%, hints of hops and malt were well balanced. Pharp’s internal system was now ready, fully primed to unleash it on the unsuspecting locals. A volley of rasping perps continued unrelenting to shatter the peace and quiet of the farmyard ambience. The locals were ducking for cover, they didn’t have the courage to come up for air to sound the hooter, it would have been drowned out anyway. After about five minutes things settled down. Pharp was popping a few pills, Citra asked what sort of pills they were, to which Pharp replied, “they are anti-inflammatory pills”, to which Citra countered, “does that prevent you from setting fire to your underpants?”, which roused much chortling from the locals. Next up, everyone went for the same again, except Fuggles who tried the Sixpenny IPA, it was ok, quite sweet, very much like drinking barley sugars sweets. A slight haze coming in at 5.2%. There was another Sixpenny ale on the bar Cranbourne Chaser but no one had that. The hand pumps were quite intriguing; the pump clips were all on the wrong pump. If you pointed to a pump clip of the ale you wanted they pulled an entirely different pump, bizarre, but the locals loved it. This is a very nice set up, small and unassuming. Very rustic, and would look forward to coming back here sometime in the future, however, they are moving to new premises in due course, so maybe not. Time to move on, we left the Weebles there and moved on to Dorchester.
It was around 1:15pm when we parked up opposite the Brewhouse & Kitchen , which is part of a growing chain of pubs, they have a nine at the moment with three more opening this year, mostly scattered across southern England. They brew on the premises and serve what looks like very wholesome snaffle. They had 4 of their own ales on pump. Fuggles, Citra and Bogsnorkle all started on the B&K Nine Stones, named after a ring of Bronze Age stones just up the road near Winterbourne Abbas. A Very pleasant blonde ale, quite hoppy coming in at a session ale strength of 3.8%, it was in very good condition, considering the brewery was about 5 yards away from where we were sitting it is only to be expected. Pharp sampled the Stationmaster’s Ale; you could drink this all day and never get inebriated, just 3.2% golden ale, fairly typical super session ale. It was very clear with a very tight head. One or two Poppies supporters had now arrived in the bar. The next ale was Judge Jefferies, named after a chap that’s used to hang around these parts. JJ is a tasty blonde, single hop, strong ale, coming in at 5.0%, very nice and in excellent condition. That was it, time for some footy.

 Avenue Stadium home of the Magpies is a very nice set up, built next to Tesco and is owned by the Duchy of Cornwall, nice one Charlie. During the last 45 minutes of our last match we scored 7 goals; we continued in this style and were 2 up within 15 minutes, 9 goals in 60 minutes, marvellous. It was 3-1 by half time and finished 4-1. A good day at the office, unfortunately, other results didn’t go our way so we’ll be plying our trade again in this league. Time to go home, but not before we had a good end of season session at the Towcester Mill a favourite hostelry for the PRATS,
Pharp opened up with Towcester Bell Ringer, a golden 4.4% ale and as you would expect in excellent condition. The rest of us went for Towcester Mill Race, a blond ale, coming in at 3.9% very citrusy with grapefruit finish. Next up, Bogsnorkle and Citra stayed with the same whilst Fuggles sampled Whittlebury brewery’s (former name of Towcester Brewery) Blue Eyed Dragon, it looks as though they are resurrecting some old ales. This was a decent blond ale coming in at 4.0%, quite hoppy and bitter, very refreshing. I don’t think we were planning a session but the ales kept flowing. Next up for Fuggles was Nobby’s Brewery Swift Nick, 4.2% best bitter, quite tasty pale ale, triple hopped, decent refreshing ale. The others stayed with what they’d already been supping. Two packets of Black Country pork scratchings, described as ‘real’. They were authentic; they still had bristles on them, very crunchy and salty and thirst inducing. Another ale for Fuggles, Charnwood brewery’s Outback brewed with Australian hops, a delightfully refreshing 4.0% straw coloured ale. Very easy drinking, it went down quite quickly. Clearly impressed Citra and Bogsnorkel had one of these next time around as did Fuggles. That was enough ale for one day; it was close to 10:30pm when we got back to Kettering. A decent day out, the Poppies won, 3 brewery taps in one trip not bad really. One more game this season, the county cup final being played at Northampton Town ground against a newish club that play in Wellingborough. 

Wednesday 20 April 2016


The PRATS are off to the last league game of the season, we started in Dorset and we finish here as well with a day out in Dorchester. With over 5000 miles already on the clock this trip will take us up to 5500, yes this is non-league footy played mostly by people who have to go to work.  We don’t have the highest mileage either, poor old Bideford and King’s Lynn does considerably more.
We will be starting early around 8:00pm and making our way to a Little Chef near Andover before continuing to the Wayland Sixpenny brewery between Salisbury and Blandford Forum. We’ll spend around an hour here sampling their finest ales before moving on to Dorchester, there is a decent cluster of pubs in the town centre, zoom in on the map to get a better indication. As you will see there aren’t any decent pubs really close to the ground, the Victoria Hotel is half a mile away and serves Ringwood ales. The same distance away is Brewhouse & Kitchen which is situated in Brewery Square, location of the former Eldridge Pope brewery. Fuggles still has a bottle of Thomas Hardy’s ale dated 1990. We went to one of these B&K pubs in Poole, very nice with a good selection of their own ales. 

Dorset Brewery Company (DBC) tap is Tom Browns located at the top end of the town. You could easily have a good day out here on a pub stroll.
The match could well be important with the Mighty Reds still harbouring hopes of a play-off spot; it will require all the planets in the solar system to be perfectly aligned whilst Pharp refrains from vacating for 24 hours prior to kick off. We may have a chance with the planets.

Nag's Head
On the way home, well it’s a long trip so it will depend on Parker, however, there is a beer festival at the Nags Head in Abingdon. It could be a timely stop off point. If all else fails we can always nip into the Towcester Mill for one last sup of the season. 

Tuesday 19 April 2016


Citra and Fuggles made their way to the Britannia pub in Northampton for thankfully the final time this season. We sampled the Black Sheep Best Bitter which actually tasted OK, although nice and clear it was as flat as a millpond. When we first started coming in here in the early part of the season the place was always fairly well used with punters, today there was about 4 of us, oh dear.
Parker arrived at 4:10pm and we wended our way cross country to the delights of western Worcestershire and the metropolis of Redditch, needle capital of the solar system.
It was just after 5:40pm when we entered the Black Tap brew pub. A decent selection of ales, Wye HPA, Enville’s Enville Ale, Oakham’s Citra and sadly just one of the house ales; Night Porter.
Citra and Fuggles kick off with the Wye HPA (Hereford Pale Ale), we’ve supped this ale a couple of times already this season so we knew what to expect. It was in excellent condition, nice and clear with a good tight head, hanging on all the way down the glass. Citrusy, easy drinking session ale coming in at 4.0%, a very nice starter. Parker had his usual coffee, lovely. Next up, we went for Enville brewery’s Enville ale, 4.5% premium ale, golden with a slightly sweetish finish, honey springs to mind. Also in good nick, very clear with a good tight head. This time Parker tried half of the Black Tap Night Porter, dark, rich with a good dollop of black treacle, in very good condition, very clear and a good creamy tight head. Not the sort of ale we could drink all night but a good 4.5% porter none the less. Finally, Citra got his pint of Oakham Citra, he’d been hankering for a pint of this all night his favourite ale. Blonde mouthful of citrusy grapefruit, 4.2% with a slight haze but it tasted good. We'd cashed in our loyalty card so got one freebie pint, marvellous.
That was it, time for the footy, no flickering lights this time, but with the kids’ footy taking place on the adjacent pitch, the car park was full. We just managed to sneak into a spot before the masses arrived. The pitch had a few dark patches here and there with the bottom corner well furrowed. The game, well we worked hard, huffed and puffed and probably had the best of the game. We completely battered them in the second half, but without a deep fat fryer, we never got the golden crispy finish, losing 2-1 with all goals coming from penalties. The needle match was sewn up in their favour; handbags were in evidence at the end of the game, Prada, Burberry, Primark.

Time to go home, the PRATS were a bit mardy so that was if for today’s imbibing. We went through the 5000 miles mark this evening, with Dorchester this Saturday and one final trip to Sixfields Northampton to wrap up the season. 

Saturday 16 April 2016


Change the bloody date
It was the 30th November when this fixture was originally scheduled. Waterlogged pitches, county cups and floodlight failures have all conspired to generate a 20 week delay; this has to be a record surely. This week the Mighty Reds have a ridiculous fixture pile up, with Monday league, Wednesday county cup, Thursday league and finally Saturday league and if we scrape a play-off place maybe the following Monday or Tuesday. Even the inmates at the Russian Gulags didn’t put that much time in.
Mrs Fuggles is currently lobbying the Northants FA, that rolling pin should come in handy, although she could have taken her curlers out, nice pinny dearest.
So once again we travel to Redditch, gateway to god knows where. At least we will get to use our loyalty card at the Black Tap Brewpub, we only need 2 pints to get a freebie. Here’s the blog from our last visit A DIM VIEW I suspect we’ll be retracing our steps so no need to write yet another pre-match Psoriasis ditty. Finger crossed we get a game this time around. 

Sunday 10 April 2016


A tough game today away to Chesham United who have one of the best home records this season. It was just after 9:00am when we left Kettering to collect Pharp, when he got into the PRATSmobile he was hugging a bottle of Gaviscon, was this good or bad news and was Pharp fermenting inside?  Undaunted we arrived at Malt Brewery just before 11:00am, a delightful establishment buried in the Chilterns.
The taproom is adjacent to the brewing and packing area and is quite cold despite the lovely weather outside. The bar person was keen to show off a new beer that had been brewed since our last visit in January so several small sample glasses were filled with a deep brown brew named Malt Icknield. Being pale ale lovers Citra and Fuggles reluctantly sipped a drop, wow, this was incredible, but more about this later. Pharp went for Starry Nights, a chestnut coloured ale coming in at 4.0%, and it was in good nick, very clear with a good tight head. Citra and Fuggles open their account with Missenden Pale Ale, easy drinking, light amber, session ale, coming in at 3.6%, we expect to have this at the Poppies beer festival in May. Next up Pharp tried the Prestwood’s Best, light chestnut ale and once again in perfect condition with hints of caramel. Fuggles and Citra decided to go for the Malt Icknield, what an incredible brown ale this is, styled on a London Porter and bursting with flavour, roasted chocolatey malts and plenty of hoppy bitterness, beautiful, coming in at premium strength 4.5%, massive aroma greets you just before your dive in. We were planning to have Prestwood’s Best at our festival but we may have to have a rethink. Our Beer festivals nearly always sell out of the lighter ales with loads of darker ales left over and then poured down the drain, but this delightful ale will go down very well with the discerning Poppies ale drinkers, so it looks as though we’ll be taking the Missenden Pale and the Malt Icknield for our beer bash. So good Citra had another one, whilst Fuggles went for the stronger 5.0% IPA, rich and smooth amber ale, very tasty indeed. All the ales were in perfect condition and well presented. We are looking forward to returning back down here to collect our festival ales in 4 weeks’ time; needless to say we will also be looking forward to taking the empties back. It was time to move on into Chesham, so after a 15 minute drive we were parked up by the ground and set out on a 500 metre route march into the town centre with the Red Squirrel owned Chesham Brewery shop our destination.
This is a pleasant little place, outside are a few tables and chairs within a forecourt, with a canopy ready to be pulled out when the weather is a tad inclement, all very continental. We were the first ones in there. A small shop-like building with racking for bottled beer from around the world. A couple of church pew type seated areas in the shop windows. There was a bar area in the corner with a row of taps poking through the wooden wall type structure, with a chalk boards above the taps describing the ales. Pharp went for Mister Squirrel, a 4.3% premium ale, Pharp had a sip, his face contorted, we weren’t sure if the beer was rank or he needed to take a swig from his Gaviscon. He wasn’t entirely happy, there was a very slight haze but the head looked tight. Fuggles and Citra decided to sample the delightfully named Hopfest, oh dear. This ale was extremely cloudy and that is being kind. We pointed this out to the young ladies behind the bar; they just said the beer in unfined. What this means is that the brewers do not add finings ‘isinglass’ is a substance produced from the swim bladder of the sturgeon fish and is used to clear the ale. This of course makes ales unsuitable for Vegans. Whilst I appreciate this is supposed to be a craft beer brewery product, this ale was neither good to look at or nice on the palate, instantly fobbing and fizzing, it was just a yellowy/orange looking sludge, quite unpleasant. Pharp commented “clearly the bar staff haven’t got the foggiest’, to which Citra countered “clearly they have as they have just served us 2 pints of it”. The Weebles arrived and we were able to steer them clear of the toxic waste. We didn’t stay for another, one was enough, sorry Red Squirrel we won’t be back, we trudged back to the ground. All this walking had worked up a thirst and thankfully the clubhouse, which was already full of the Poppies faithful, had a couple of ales on hand-pump. We went for the Rebellion Generals, which is probably a standard ale re-badged for Chesham. It was ok but nothing to write about, so I won’t.
The game, well what can I say, the team sheet suggested we were either resting a lot of players in preparation for 7 matches in a chaotic 15 days or we were carrying quite a few knocks. With Chesham having one of the best home records this season, we were in for a very tough time, or so we thought. Within 15 minutes the club’s infant 16 year old had set up one goal and scored another, finally running out 3 nil winners. Quite a stunning and most unexpected result, we are now daring to believe.

Time to start the journey home; we decided to venture through a heavy hailstorm up towards Aylesbury and an old favourite the Hop Pole.
We’ve been here a few times now when watching the Poppies take on Aylesbury’s Moles. This is a great pub with an impressive row of 10 hand-pumps, 9 ales and a cider. At the rear of the pub is the Aylesbury Brewery sister of the Vale Brewery. Needless to say there were quite a few of their ales available, Fuggles and Citra went for the Vale Best, a light coppered coloured, hoppy, session ale coming in at 3.6%. It was in excellent condition, perfectly clear with the head clinging to the glass all the way to the bottom. Pharp went away from the house ales and tried Welsh brewery, Monty’s Moonrise, a 4.0% malty amber ale. It looked in good nick, Pharp certainly wasn’t complaining. Time for another, Pharp stayed with Moonrise whilst Fuggles and Citra went for another house beer, this time Gravitas, a strong 4.8% pale ale, quite citrusy with a dry finish, once again in very good condition. Just enough time for one last pint for Citra and Fuggles, this time we Lymestone Brewery’s Ein-Stein a powerful 5.0% blonde ale, quite hoppy and refreshing a decent ale to finish a decent day off nicely. Three more home games now before we go off to Redditch one again a week on Monday. It could be an interesting few weeks.

Friday 8 April 2016


The PRATS now have a new logo, the logo represents all those things that any discerning ale guzzling and pork pie munching aficionado would hold dear to their ever narrowing arteries heart.
Great news for all you fashion conscious hog swillers, the PRATS have now launched this summers must have, jaw dropping, tee shirt. Manufactured in only the finest light weight cotton, our show stopping mannequin parade will take place on the catwalk along the Chesham terrace this coming Saturday. Watch out for David Gandy lookalike Citra as he saunters, hand on hip, tripping arse over tit performance. Parker and Pharp will also be in attendance admiring Citra’s svelte like physique carry the most elegant of postures.
If you would like to be gawped at this summer then get your order in sharpish, we can get sizes up to 3XL. They cost £12.00 each any profits will go to the footy club that bears a not too dissimilar badge.
Enquiries to any of the PRATS or email

Thursday 7 April 2016


Here we go again; the full complement of PRATS is back on the road after 6 home games over 4 weeks. With all these home games the PRATS have endured a relatively arid patch with our throats drier than Mrs Fuggles four week old Madeira cake. Needless to say we are looking forward to our next away game which is this Saturday at Chesham, pronounced Chess um, apparently the locals go a bit odd when the ‘sh’ is used, bless. We have a couple of nice brewery taps lined up.
We are returning to The Malt Brewery in Prestwood near Missenden just a few miles away from Chesham. We were last here during our aborted trip to Slough back in January and we will once again be sampling their wares. We will be having a couple of ales from this brewery for the Poppies beer festival in May.
There are quite a few pubs in Chesham with some just an easy stroll from the ground. We’ll be frequenting the Chesham brewery shop owned and run by Red Squirrel brewery, they have one or two of the establishments now with another one just up the road in Amersham.
Queens Head
If you like your Fullers Ales then try the Queens Head a very nice pub, we supped a few in here last time we played down here. 
If Fuggles memory isn’t befuddled they serve ale in the clubhouse.
The Generals have been in decent form of late but have slipped up in the last two games picking up one point; hopefully we can continue our charge to the play-offs.

On the way home we may well go and visit some of our favourite hostelries, The Land of Liberty, Peace & Plenty in Heronsgate just off the M25 and the Cuckoo, in Toddington just off the M1. However, there is a temptation to go back home the country route and nip into an old favourite Hop Pole Inn in Aylesbury, a good range of ales brewed next door in the Vale Brewery.
Maybe even spend a few minutes in the Crown in Granborough, they serve local brews. Also the Rising Sun in Berkhampstead comes highly recommended with discounts for CAMRA card carrying members