Post by Chris Greville Post by John Hatpin
I've twice been on tours of the Tetley's brewery in Leeds, England,
and you got an hour with a free bar (no limits) and free food. I dug
that, too. In those days, I could put down a *lot* of Tetley's in a
The one mistake they made was having the free bar before the tour. The
second time I went, a lot of people were too drunk to cooperate with
the tour guides. It ended up quite a disaster - a whole city banned
from brewery tours. Literally.
Semi serious qustion, is it the same company that make the tea?
Good question - I don't know. A brief trawl through the Interweb
doesn't show any link between the two, but it's an unusual name, and
the fact that they're both selling drinks makes it an odd coincidence
if that it is.
Post by Chris Greville
FWIW, I couldn't tell the difference.
Presumably, you've never had a decent pint of Tetley's. It used to be
really, really good stuff, but only if it was stored and served
properly. It had a deserved reputation among real-ale buffs (like I
used to be) for being difficult to keep properly in the cellar, and
also intolerant of being transported long distances.
But on the rare occasions when you could get it (hand-pumped, of
course) in a pub where the landlord knew how to cellar it and serve it
properly, it was a very, very nice drink indeed. I don't think it was
possible to get a proper pint of Tetley's outside of a 100-mile radius
from the brewery (due to the transport problem), and even within that
area, 99% of the pubs kept and served it poorly.
The best pint of Tetley's you could get (apart from the brewery's own
bar) was the marvellous Adelphi pub in Leeds, just a few hundred yards
from the brewery. What a pub! Spectacular Victorian architecture and
decor, superb traditional food, good crowd, dismally run-down area:
I've not been there for years, though. Things might have changed.
Post by Chris Greville Post by John Hatpin
I'll relate the story another time if anyone's interested - at the
moment, I badly need a break from this computer.
OK, here goes. Long post alert.
The Tetley's brewer in Leeds had an open invitation for organisations
to book brewery tours. The first time I went, it was with CAMRA
(non-Brits: the CAMpaign for Real Ale, an extremely successful
consumer organisation dedicated to reversing the trend towards bland,
fizzy crap beer), and we had a fascinating couple of hours wandering
around with very knowledgeable guides, discussing methods of brewing,
ingredients, plant and so on. An excellent way of spending an
evening, especially with the free food and beer.
The second visit, however ...
This time, it was organised by a pub near my workplace, a pub we
white-collar geek colleagues used to socialise in, although most of
its trade was blue-collar or career-unemployed from the local council
estate. They were his bread-and-butter.
The pub itself was a Tetley's pub, which served their beer
beautifully, and the landlord, Keith, was a decent chap who had a bit
of a problem with the alcohol. He wasn't permanently pissed by any
means, but on the times when he did have a bit too much, he'd turn
into a bit of a thug.
Anyway, Keith organised a coach (US: high-spec bus) trip to the
brewery for his regulars, and a few of us white-collar computer types
from work signed up. The rest of the coach was taken up by the
blue-collar guys. (I hate making distinctions like this, but it's
accurate and imperative.)
The coach was due to sail for Leeds (60 miles distant) at 5pm, so
those of us at work that were going left at about 4pm in order to get
to the pub (5 minutes) and have a pint or two there before we all set
off (55 minutes). Hell, it was Friday night - why not let your hair
When we got to the pub, we found that most of the blue-collars were
completely smashed, having been there all day (Keith had let them in
at about 9am, very illegally).
As we got into the coach, trays of beers were carried on so that these
guys wouldn't sober up or anything during the hour-long journey. I've
been on plenty of coach trips for beer-drinking purposes, and it's
normal for unscheduled roadside stops to be made on the way home at
the end of the night for people to relieve themselves (so-called
"piss-stops"), but this was the first time I'd known this to happen
*on the way there*.
This, by the way, wasn't restricted to the men. At one stop, a group
of women squatted up against the rear of the bus to pee, and the
driver, for a laugh, pulled forward a few yards to reveal their rear
ends to a laughing, pointing, drunken audience. What glamour, what
When we arrived, there was free food and beer for an hour before the
tour itself started. You were supposed to queue for the buffet, but
that was ignored. It was a rabble, and us people without tattoos went
hungry. They showed an informational film (actually, a very
interesting one), but no-one would shut up. We nerds sat there,
quietly nursing our pints. The others sang lewd songs and drank beer
as if prohibition were imminent. I saw one guy get six pints from the
bar, assumed he was saving his mates the walk, and then saw him take
them over to an empty table and drink them all himself, barely
stopping to breathe.
When it was time for the tour, some people refused to go, wanting to
pour even more beer down their throats, and oblivious to the fact that
the bar had closed and the shutters were down.
The tour itself was ridiculous. We were all divided into groups of
ten or so, each with their own tour guide. Each group was dispatched
separately, a few minutes apart, the idea being to space out (not that
way) the groups throughout the rather long tour. But people kept
trying to gatecrash the next group, so they could get back to the bar
all the quicker. They were unaware that the tour guides could count
and had brains.
Worth mentioning that the tour guides were superb. They were all
female, young, and obviously selected for their looks. And yet, they
knew their stuff fantastically well - not by rote, by genuine
understanding of and interest in the brewing process. And they
handled the drunkards superbly. Mind you, when a few of us Nice
People, at the end of the tour, made a point of going over to them and
apologising on behalf of our drunken co-tourists, and of thanking them
for the tour, they were very genuinely grateful to be speaking to
humans and were obviously looking forward to seeing the back of the
So, we left the brewery and called in at the Adelphi Pub mentioned
above, so people who weren't quite drunk enough to be satisified could
pour yet more beer down their throats. Now, the Adelphi was owned by
the brewery, and served as their "brewery tap"; ie, their showcase
pub. As such, they had very close ties with the brewery; much
stronger ties than normal with a brewery outlet pub.
This was where it got silly. Keith, the landlord of the pub that had
organised the tour in the first place, and who was ultimately
responsible for the conduct of the group, by now was absolutely and
completely pissed, and picked a fight with a couple of the regulars,
who were really just innocent bystanders. Keith was a big guy, and no
stranger to using his fists. It was a very nasty incident, all the
more so for the fact that this wasn't in the car park or anything, it
was right in the centre of the (rather up-market) pub, in full view of
There were other instances of random violence that I didn't see, since
we Nice People had decanted to a smaller, cosier room off the main
bar, and kept out of harm's way.
After a while, we were all ejected from the pub, the violent ones
banned for life, and we headed back to the coach.
On the way back, it was like sitting inside the baboon enclosure of a
zoo, although I apologise in advance to any baboons reading for making
such a comparison. The baboons still had some of their in-flight
refreshments (cans of lager) left, and were partaking heavily.
People were vomiting and deliberately urinating inside the coach
("nah, no need to get the fucking driver to stop, I'll 'ave a slash
'ere", standing up against the window). I was threatened by some
large baboon for some trivial reason I don't recall, probably just
eye-contact, ("you got seven seconds to get to the back of the fucking
coach ... one, two, three ...", fist ready).
There were, of course, plenty of fights on the coach. In the absence
of outsiders, the baboons turned on each other - I think the only
reason we Nice People escaped unharmed was because we were, well,
Nice, and we sat there very quietly, our attention fixed on
Hull 50 miles
Hull 43 miles
Hull 41 miles
There was a lot more hijinks than that, but my fingers are getting
tired. Man, we were glad to get off that coach an hour or so later.
It was awful.
Upshot was, all future Tetley brewery trips from Hull were proscribed
by Tetley's management. Officially. Keith was charged a large amount
of money for damage to the coach - it had to be taken off the road and
its interior reupholstered and recarpeted. He was also charged for
the hire of a replacement coach by the coach company during the time
it was being refurbished - a huge amount.
The beer aficionados at Hull CAMRA were really pissed-off by the ban,
since they had a trip cancelled as a result, and they'd already booked
their coach. I used to know the CAMRA guys, and drink and socialise
with them (although I was never a member) - they were beard-wearing,
overweight, calm, jovial, Guardian-reading, intellectual types that
presented no threat, and were well-known by Tetley's. But, they were
from Hull, and the ban affected all of Hull. Forever.
Funnily enough, in the social Venn diagram of CAMRA guys and Keith's
pub's regulars, I was the only one in the intersection. I remember
one night mentioning to the CAMRA people that I'd been on That Trip,
and was beseiged with awe, and with questions about What Happened. As
so often happens, the facts had acquired mythical embellishments - the
tales they'd heard made it sound like Somme-on-a-bus.
Here endeth the Hatpin AFCA-blog entry for 31st January 2007.