Tuesday 12 December 2017

Epic pub-crawlers chalk up 20,000th boozer

The Black Country Ale Tairsters celebrate visiting their 20,000th pub at the Knot and Plough in Stafford after setting off on a pub-crawl three dacades ago
The Black Country Ale Tairsters celebrate visiting their 20,000th pub at the Knot and Plough in Stafford after setting off on a pub-crawl three dacades ago
The Black Country Ale Tairsters celebrate visiting their 20,000th pub after setting off on a pub-crawl three dacades ago, at the Knot and Plough in Stafford.

Britain's most committed pub-crawlers have chalked off their 20,000th boozer - three decades after setting off to tour just 300 inns listed on a brewery map.

Members of the Black Country Ale Tairsters - who dossed down in a graveyard following their inaugural visit to a pub in Wales in 1984 - arrived in a minibus to toast their latest milestone at the Knot and Plough in Stafford.

The group's co-founder Pete Hill was among those who considered calling time on the epic odyssey in 1985 after successfully ticking off hundreds of ale houses run by Wolverhampton-based Banks's.

But the friends decided to press on - darkening the door of more than 1,000 pubs in Herefordshire and Worcestershire before embarking on a tour of Britain's coastline and then every bar in Wales.

As more than a dozen members of the group raised a glass to their 20,000th pub, Mr Hill celebrated with a pint of Marston's 61 Deep pale ale.

The retired engineer - whose father Joe died in 2014 after fulfilling his ambition of "conquering" Wales - has knocked back 46,632 pints during the Tairsters' journey.

The 60-year-old said: "Last May when we'd done 19,000 I took my lump sum out of my pension to get to 20,000 and I have spent the bloody lot.

"Today is a bit emotional to be honest because it was my dad's ambition to get to 20,000 and it would have been his birthday tomorrow."

Mr Hill, who has collected around £24,000 for charity from licensees around Britain by asking for a £1 donation at each pub, joked: "I am the Samuel Pepys of my day. On every pub crawl everything is documented - from the beers in the pub to the decor.

"Every detail is recorded."

The unofficial group leader regards an ability to drink a gallon of beer as a minimum requirement for membership and advises drinkers to make a will before joining up.

"You never know when you might go the way of Oliver Reed," he said. "He's the hero - though I try not to go over 1,500 pints a year.

"If I'm in danger of going over the annual limit I stop in for a couple of days.

"And I had to keep to my local for the past two weeks to make sure today was the 20,000th different pub."

The West Bromwich-based Tairsters (Black Country dialect for tasters) moved its focus to 12 Midlands counties in 1991 before embarking on a seven-year tour of Wales in 2006.

Several veterans of the group, including stalwarts John Drew, 53, and 72-year-old Malcolm Maynard, attended the event at the Knot and Plough, where they were given free beer.

A spokesman for Marston's, which runs the two-year-old pub, said: "Pete and his friends' journey is a brilliant achievement.

"The fact he's raised thousands for good causes while having a great time is a tribute to him and the Great British pub."

Press Association

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