Last week saw the launch of the Surrey/Hants Borders CAMRA LocAle Pub Trail Summer 2013. In the past pub trails have always excited me. In the mid 80s when I lived in London I often had two or three on the go at any one time. The prizes varied from the excellent (free tour of the Adnams brewery conducted by the head brewer) to the awful (a Shepherd Neame Steinbock Lager T-shirt sent to me for visiting over 50 of their pubs and consuming a pint of Master Brew in each). The latter pissed me off in more ways than one. The trail was specifically aimed at consumers of Master Brew and the T-shirt pictured bore the logo of this lovely beer. The T-shirt I received was an abomination promoting their new lager. When I complained the brewery did not even have the decency to send me a reply.
The Youngs 135 club was quite a challenge. 147 pubs (the estate had grown from the original launch but the club name remained the same) in and around London and the requirement to consume a half pint in each. There was no time limit but six months later it was done and dusted and my 36-pint minipin of Youngs Special arrived in time to keep me and my housemates happy whilst watching the 1986 World Cup Final. One particular day stands out when we managed to visit 22 pubs (and this was in the day before all-day drinking). Eight pubs at lunchtime, an afternoon watching Wimbledon play at home and a 14 pub crawl in the evening. No problem.
Trails with time limits are obviously the most challenging. A year in which to visit 90 Gales pubs when you live more than 25 miles from the nearest one can seem quite daunting but it was completed with one day to spare. This was helped by visiting 44 pubs in one particularly mad week when I consumed more HSB than was probably good for me.
The King and Barnes Ale Trail had no time limit and different prizes for the number of times you completed it. There may have been no actual time limit set by the brewery but when an American work colleague of mine decided to race me a time limit of 'as soon as damned possible' was imposed. We were working in Horsham together at the time and after employing some sneaky underhand tactics I beat him by one day. He has never forgiven me.
Now I'm working in Aldershot and the lure of a lunchtime pub garden with these clear blue skies overhead means that the challenge of visiting 24 pubs by the end of September cannot be ignored. It will also give me the opportunity to explore the local pubs as well as trying some of the beers from local breweries that I am yet to have sampled. I will create a single blog post for the trail and update it as each pub is ticked off. The first pub is planned for tomorrow.