Jane Stuart – Writer

Writing about real life Up North: football, ale, food and mental health – with a good dash of humour.

Plymouth Argyle v Blackpool: Plymouth Pubbage

Plymouth away. The first game of the new season. The first awayday in six months. Right at the other end of the country. Well, if that doesn’t call for a virtual massive pub crawl weekend away, I don’t know what does. So let’s go…

Bulletproof Brewery Taphaus

I do like to sample local beverages, so I’ll start with the Plymouth breweries. Bulletproof is an interesting one. They brew German-inspired vegan lagers from a garden shed. According to this blog, they used to have a mobile taproom in an old horse box. Quirky. And you know I like quirky.

According to WhatPub, their taphaus serves :

  • Bulletproof Camo Schwartz Bier (Bottle, Can conditioned)
  • Bulletproof Monster From Munich Marzen (Bottle, Can Conditioned)
  • Bulletproof Rise Of The Burble-Snouts (Bottle, Can conditioned)

I do like a black lager on a sunny day – they have the maltiness of a stout but are refreshing like a lager – so I’d be having the Camo here. I’d also be snacking on some Masala Curry Bier Nuts, because they sound irresistible.

Roam Brewing Co

Roam have a taproom in Peverell. Their beers include Hometown Pale, …And Raspberries Raspberry Gose (now we’re talking), New Road and Milk Stout. Ooh half of the raspberry and half of the milk stout for me please!

These guys also bake their own breads and pastries. I’m not a big bread eater (although I am partial to a fluffy brioche bun), hence I’ve not really got into this hipster sourdough thing. There’d have to be something particularly mouthwatering (or have a persuasive salesperson) to tempt me into eating here.

Steel Brew Co

Now this place looks good! Their website is very alluring. I like the names of the beers. They do flights. And look at the snackage menu! I want so many things to eat here! I NEED to try the Tiger Prawn Chilli & Lime Crisps, the Rosemary & Scottish Seaweed Biscuits, the Chilli & Lime Nuts…oh just EVERYTHING. I’ll be asking for a flight of snacks in here, make no mistake. Drinks wise, I’ll be sampling the Slippery Ripple. But look! They have a Fierce Beer on! I KNEW this place was good. A can of the Fierce as well, please.

Steel is based at the stunning Grade I listed Royal William (Victualling) Yard in Stonehouse, which is steeped in history as an important port since the early 19th century. I’ll be doing some further research into Plymouth’s history as I work my way through the snack menu here.

Summerskills Brewery

This is Plymouth’s oldest brewery. I’m ready for something a bit more traditional now, because I’m a bit hipstered out already. I’m not to be disappointed. The beer list is thus: Start Point (gold), Westward Ho! (golden amber, great name), Devon Dew (honey yellow and fruity), Bolt Head (ruby ruby ruby ruby), First Light (amber, toffee taste followed by orange and sherbet finish, mmm…) and South Star (rich, dark, chocolate…this is what I’m having).

It doesn’t appear that they have a tap house, sadly, so I guess that means I’ll have to start hunting it down in the pubs of Plymouth. Here goes…

The Pub On The Hoe

I’m here because I like the name. And it’s opposite a lighthouse (it’s on my bucket list to spend the night in a lighthouse). And it’s described on Google Maps as a ‘relaxed inn with nautical bar/restaurant’. The website doesn’t offer much by way of further explanation, but Plymouth CAMRA expands thus:

“…situated near Plymouth Hoe, where Sir Francis Drake famously played bowls. Up to four varying real ales, including one from Altarnun, Bays, Dartmoor, Roam or Summerskills, supplement the house beer, Drunken Hoe, and two local real ciders. Good home-cooked food is available all day…”

So it seems I might get my Summerskills fix here – as well as a hearty meal. But, just in case I don’t, I’d better add a few more pubs to my map…

Minerva Inn

This is ‘Plymouth’s oldest serving public house, c.1540’. It’s a small pub and apparently they are struggling for custom since lockdown. They are unable to host live music at the moment and their ale range is limited. If you’re in the area, get down there and support them! In previous times, according to Plymouth CAMRA, (and hopefully in the not too distant future) their beer range was as follows:

“Up to three guest ales supplement the two regular ales, including at least one from Altarnun, Bays, Dartmoor, Noss Beer Works, Roam Brewing Co or Summerskills.”

So, again, maybe Summerskills, maybe not. I’ll keep going just in case…

The Crafty Half

This pub looks fab from the outside – and I love the name. I’m definitely going in. If I saw a pub that looked like this anywhere in the world, I’d be going in. It’s so alluring…

The pub has no website, so it’s off over to TripAdvisor (where I got the pic) for further info. Dear reader, it’s not sounding as good as it looks, with boring beer (no craft) only served in halves. Further research on Plymouth CAMRA website reveals the hand pumps have now been removed, so there is no real ale at all. Hmm. This might be one of those where I walk in, survey the bar, then walk straight back out again. I have no time to waste on a crawl in a pub with no beer. Shame dat.

The Fortescue

Right. I need a good pub now. Google describes this one as a “No-nonsense venue for cask-conditioned real ales as well as traditional meals and Sunday roasts.” Yep. Sounds like what I’m looking for. It’s just down from Bulletproof in an area called Mutley.

Further research reveals this is a Greene King pub. I’ve been to a few of those lately (there are a lot of them in Blackpool) and they are of varying quality. Their beer range and menus differ. I have the Greene King app on my phone (because this is how pubs work now) and the menu here includes a Bar Snacks menu – and they sell Skips! I can’t remember the last time I had a bag of Skips, so I’m having some. I’m not excited by anything else on the menu here.

I go to the drinks menu, expecting the standard Greene King IPA and Abbot Ale options. They often don’t include guest ales on the app. I find a few things that surprise me.

Wadworth 6X is a pleasant surprise and I’ll be having one of those if there aren’t any guests on. But THEY DO THINGS TO BEER IN HERE! Is this a Devon thing? I check The Shovels on my Greene King app and note that there, too, they offer drinks with top, lime and black. They even offer a John Smiths Smooth Top. I’m not happy with this at all. This isn’t good enough. I’m reverting to the comprehensive list of Plymouth pubs on the Plymouth CAMRA website because I need something more from a pub – and I need it now…

Artillery Arms

Right. This pub is back at King William Yard (tick), offers “one South West guest beer, such as a beer from Black Tor, Dartmoor and Summerskills” (tick) and hosts “charity monkey racing”. WHAAAAT? I need to visit to find out more about this…

Not quite what I was expecting, but still…quirky…

Dolphin Hotel

Plymouth CAMRA highlights: “An unpretentious hostelry steeped in history, the Dolphin is a Plymouth institution. Up to 8 beers are dispensed by gravity straight from the cask…a real open fire…The walls are adorned with paintings by local artist, the late Beryl Cook, who painted many of the characters she encountered in the Dolphin. Plymouth CAMRA City Pub Of The Year Runner Up 2013, 2015, 2016, 2018 and 2019. The pub does not serve food, but you are welcome to bring in your own from nearby takeaways.”

I can’t find a website – and a Google search brought up this intriguing TripAdvisor headline.

Obviously, I’m reading on…

This sounds HILARIOUS (very Fawlty Towers) and I’m definitely going. And I’m very tempted to go for last orders. I don’t take negative reviews too seriously, so I’m not judging the place on this review.

Ferry House Inn

From Plymouth CAMRA: “A warm welcome awaits you and your dog from both the landlord and locals at this picturesque riverside pub, which is situated on the River Tamar, which separates Devon from Cornwall. There is a decking area outside, giving spectacular views of Brunel’s iconic railway bridge, which dates 1859. Good home-cooked food is served daily, and uses locally sourced ingredients…”

The Ferry House Inn is in the 2020 Good Beer Guide (a publication I once bought religiously, but haven’t owned for a few years now), so the beer must be worth sampling.

I’m not a big fan of desserts as a rule (not favouring chocolate cake type things, which tend to feature on typical dessert menus). But check this out:

I’m all over that bread and butter pudding! Oh yes!

Fisherman’s Arms

There’s a pubdog here with a beer named after him (Mr Jones, schnauzer), so obviously I’m paying him a visit! He also has his own Facebook page.

The Fisherman’s describes itself as THE COUNTRY PUB, HIDDEN IN THE MIDDLE OF BRITAIN’S OCEAN CITY.

This pub has been refurbished and today marks its grand reopening, which is a stroke of luck, as I love a good pub opening.

There’s curry on the menu, so I’m having that. And – woah! What. Is. This. Dessert in a glass. MIDNIGHT MINT. Baileys, Absolut Vanilla and Creme de Menthe. STOP PRESS! Ferry House Inn, you’ve been trumped by the Fisherman’s for my kind of dessert!

Lord High Admiral

Plymouth CAMRA review: “…this hidden gem is worth seeking out. The interior, with its exposed stone walls, dried hops adorning the bar area and vintage wooden furniture has an almost country feel… Three interesting beers (sourced regionally)…and the craft beers will appeal to many drinkers.” Ok, I’m tempted…

It appears this place has taken an interesting turn as a result of the current pandemic. Their Facebook page reveals:

“The LHA is now a hub not a pub. Due to the Corona Virus, we have teamed up with a few other super local independents to set up shop in the pub. So we have Knead Pizza, The Hutong Cafe and Tilt all under one roof. Check each facebook for all info!”

What a fab idea, local indies supporting each other. And the food all looks delicious (those Tilt sliders…). I have to pay this place a visit.

Vessel Beer Shop

I’ve had quite enough beer and food now. Before I settle down on the train home for a snooze, I’m popping into the beer shop for a carryout.

Wow. If you’re a lover of sour beers, you’ll be in your element in here right now. There is also a lot of beer in here that I haven’t heard of, which is a good thing. I’ll be a while inspecting the labels. Without the benefit of tangible bottles and cans right now, I’ll have to make my selection from the beer list on the website. Lervig Three Bean Stout (because who can resist a Lervig?), North Brew Co/Buxton Imperial Smoked Stout, Kaiserdom Dunkle (a black lager) and Equilibrium Mobius.

I must confess, dear reader, I’m really enjoying these virtual pub crawls – and the research will come in useful when I’m back on the road watching Blackpool again. Oh! The match! I almost forgot…

Plymouth Argyle v Blackpool

Well, THAT didn’t go as expected! Blackpool had been attacking rampantly throughout pre-season, putting three past Everton and two past Liverpool (shush). My guest blogger led me to believe Plymouth were equally rampant, with both teams having the ‘if you score two, we’ll score three’ attitude. Gung-ho attacking football, yeah? Bring it on!

What actually happened was Plymouth scored after two minutes and parked the bus. We simply couldn’t penetrate their defence and, when we did, were met by a heroic display from their debutant 20-year-old keeper Mike Cooper. We dominated possession and had plenty of shots but there was something missing.

First of all, we didn’t start playing until 20 minutes in. It was a defensive error from our star forward CJ Hamilton that led to the Plymouth goal, which perhaps adversely affected his performance, as this was the least effective we have seen him. And there was something lacking up front…a distinct lack of cohesion. Balls were played into space in and around the box…but there was no-one on the end of them. Indeed we haven’t scored in any of our three competitive matches this season. The goals will come, of course – the law of averages dictates that and we really are pressing hard – so I’m not too concerned.

Comfort Eating…

That said, I’d forgotten how dejected I feel after a defeat (the friendlies didn’t count, obvs, and we drew that Stoke game, which I wasn’t fussed about winning anyway). In the past I’d thought it might have been the pre-match beers that led to post-match hunger. But today I learned that it’s most definitely a defeat that leaves me craving comfort food on a Saturday night. I immediately placed an order with Gulshan (my favourite takeaway in Blackpool): Chicken Tikka Nepali and Pilau Rice. Lee went out for further comfort food, returning with popcorn, a Chocolate Orange and Jelly Belly 20 Flavours (the BEST jelly beans!). We ate the latter whilst snuggled up on the sofa watching Bombshell on Amazon Prime (great film, recommended).

Non League Matters

Now we have a week until our next Blackpool match…and you know what that means? Of course we have to find a random non-league midweek match to go to! It’s more important than ever that we support our local teams. Plus we had such fun last time, on our visit to Trafford. Since then I’ve watched a couple of FA Cup matches on the BBC red button (Maine Road v Squires Gate and, earlier today, Stocksbridge Park Steels v Stalybridge Celtic) and have loved every minute. So I’ll be back later this week with a blog from an actual match. Woohoo! Until then, dear reader…

UTMP.

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