The Fat Badgers first interest in real ale and good pubs started back in our school days.We can be honest about the fact we were served beer in a pub whilst we were still at school as the Wheel Pub in Codsall, Staffordshire has long since been demolished and turned into houses.It wasn’t exactly the real ale we know and love today, we were weaned on Banks’s Mild - still around today but has always been slightly different to traditional ales. Banks’s Mild was known as quite a ‘bitter’ mild, so appealed to Mild and Bitter drinkers alike. It was said that Banks’s sold four pints of Mild to every pint of Banks’s Bitter. Every other brewer sells more Bitter.Banks’s is however brewed slightly different to most ales and use a different finings to most other brewers. Finings are used at the end of the brewing process to make the ale clearer. It also meant that Banks’s beers were one of those that had a thick creamy head on top of the beer. The state of beers and pubs at the time wasn’t very good.When we found our first pub that served ales straight from the cask, we were blown away by the difference and immediately became lovers of ‘flat’ beer. Traditionalists and connoisseurs will tell you that both ale and wine should be served at room temperature but when was this first mentioned? Were room temperatures lower when the phrase was first uttered? What we do know is that we prefer a flat, warm beer over a cold fizzy one.So, we’d tried a beer in the Wheel and then tried real ale from the Fox at Marston (sadly now a house) and paid a visit to the Bull & Bladder (properly called the Vine), the brewery in Brierley Hill that still today brews probably the best bitter in the world - Bathams and almost as good, Simpkiss of Quarry Bank sadly sold to Greenall Whitley in 1985. We decided we wanted to try more!
Andy Keeling & Ian Reynolds both starting working in the field of Architecture. Andy worked for an Architect’s practice that specialised in the design of pubs & hotels and extensions to both. He worked on hundreds of designs mostly for Bass and Wolverhampton & Dudley Breweries including some in interesting locations such as the new pub and canal marina for the Stoke-on-Trent Garden Festival and also a whole new village called Craobh Haven on the west coast of Scotland which included a pub now called The Lord Of The Isles.
Fat Badger Kilo & Fat Badger Reno started keeping a list of inns visited and rated them on the standard of what we found beyond the front door. Not quite to the level of the Good Beer Guide and our categories of what we considered made a good pub, maybe not the same as we would today and perhaps not now considered PC but we rated the pubs on:•Women•Beer•Atmosphere•Staff Attitude•ComfortOur first entry in the guide on the 23/10/1984 was the Seven Stars at Seisdon which sadly is now a house. It achieved 69% likeability with the roaring log fire, fantastic friendliness of the staff and well kept Ind Coope Burton Ale getting the majority of the score - an all round decent pub.Still a decent score as the best pub in the guide ended up being the Whittington Inn which scored 79% and still appears in our guide as an inn worth visiting. Guided tours of Wolverhampton & Dudley Brewery, Batham’s Brewery, Bass Brewery and Hook Norton Brewery followed along with guided tours of Astley Vineyard and Halfpenny Green Vineyard.
Amazingly the lowest scoring inn with a tiny 6% was the Hundred House Hotel which is now in our guide as Highly Recommended, something has obviously changed substantially over the years. Our first visit on the 12/01/1985 may have been before Henry Philips purchased the Hundred House and turned it into something special. Their first Good Beer Guide was purchased and became a very well thumbed book.
On 19th November Fat Badger Kilo took part in the Beaujolais Run in an Audi Quattro in which they became the only car plus one motorbike to make it back early enough to catch the first ferry back to Blighty.
In September Fat Badger Kilo went skiing and drinking with the legend, Franz Klammer. They were introduced to a skiing Badger named Boris in a bar in Austria.
In February Fat Badger Kilo bought a new house and in September became Bar Manager of his local pub and friends with a brewery owner in Stourbridge.
In February Fat Badger Kilo decided he was well enough qualified to go out drinking with another legend, George Best. Although not very much was remembered the following day, one discussion about pubs and this new invention called ‘the internet’ prompted Kilo to register his first domain name to put his and Reno’s pub recommendations online.
Kilo contacted a publican who ran an exceptionally well run establishment to inform him that his inn had been added to the guide and they decided to meet up to discuss further. The domain name www.qualityinns.co.uk was purchased to house the site and the two became good friends and discussed long into the early hours about food, beer and other stuff.As this particular publican owned a motorcycle with side car, it was mentioned that they could drive around the country ‘Badging’ inns and adding them to the site. We’d be like the Two Fat Ladies said one, except we’d be the Two Fat Bastards “or…..” said Kilo
“Two Fat Badgers”
How we all laughed!
Once we’d realised that all the planes hadn’t fallen out of the sky, the clocks hadn’t stopped and the internet was still alive we went about recruiting Badgers from Setts around the UK to start sniffing out all the best pubs & inns to add to the guide and registered the domain: