The Preston Brewery Tap has got most things any good pub should have – beer, atmosphere, three blokes on stools putting the world to rights, helpful, friendly staff – and a ghost.

Not that I was immediately spooked when I walked in.

Coming in from bright sunshine, my first thought was “who turned off all the lights?”. It was just very dark at the bar.

However, the light was restored by a lovely, cheery welcome from the barmaid.

Listening to her dulcet tones I immediately realised she was from Down Under, but couldn’t be sure whether she was Aussie or Kiwi. I decided not to mention it, I’ve fallen foul of that one before.

I also played it safe with a pint of Harvey’s Sussex Best, clocking in at 4.0 per cent. It set me back £3.90, so I invested a further pound in a packet of crisps.

Settling in at the bar I couldn’t help overhearing the conversation between the barmaid and a lovely customer dressed in a stripy dress and a tartan cropped top.

In fact, given the discussion about food I assume she must be Aussie – to cut a long story short, crocodile, frogs, antelope all taste like chicken. Kangaroo, on the other hand, tastes like kangaroo.

All this talk of unusual food must have tickled my taste buds as I was, bizarrely, inspired to try a pint of the craft beer on tap, Picklejuice.

It’s a bit stronger at 4.8 per cent and 60p more expensive than the Harvey’s. It was slightly more hoppy and zesty, but personally I wouldn’t cross the street for it.

Things had quietened down and one fellow on the skew-whiff pool table had won all the money from his playing partner so even the click, click of the balls stopped.

Then, the conversation turned to the “old radio” kept under the bar.

Apparently the staff are convinced it is haunted and switches itself on without being touched – sometimes even when it’s not connected to the power.

All I can say is, whichever ghost is responsible it’s not got great musical taste.

And talking of responsibility the barmaid had now moved on to blaming the ghost for ringing up a pint of Pride beer in the till for £3,000 – spooky or human error, you decide.

All this talk of ghouls saw me head out to the garden to grab some fresh air.

It’s less garden and more concrete back yard but there’s a nice stable door which affords a good view of the neighbouring Shell garage.

There a few hanging baskets with nice-enough flowers and some colourful tables.

There are plenty more chairs piled up and, for some reason, a whole stack of corner flags.

They need to empty the ashtrays more often but the hardened nicotine fans seemed to like it well enough.

Back inside barmaid number one was finishing her shift and announcing she was off home to watch Harry Potter on the telly.

So, what else can I tell you? There’s a fruit machine, a jukebox, five screens showing sport, tapas are £4.50 each or three for £12 and when barmaid one hurt her foot on a heavy table she cooled it in the bar sink filled up with ice.

By now barmaid number two, with the most amazing blue hair, had taken over and was asking me if I’d like another drink.

I really would have loved to stay but had to make a move so sadly bid her farewell until we meet again.


Decor: ★★★☆☆ 

Trying to be trendy, thankfully doesn’t achieve it

Drink: ★★★☆☆ 

The Harvey’s was fine, I should have stuck with it

Price: ★★★☆☆ 

Seems reasonable enough to me

Atmosphere: HHH Not at all bad for an early evening

Staff: ★★★☆☆ 

Barmaid 1 was friendly, barmaid 2 seemed livelier still

  • A thank you and a warning... I just wanted to pass on a massive thank you to all PubSpy’s regular readers for all your kind messages – it’s always great to get feedback, even if it can’t always be 100 per cent positive – please keep on writing, it really is appreciated.

And finally, I must warn everyone next week’s edition of the column is not for the faint-hearted. I have never witnessed more politically incorrect behaviour in all my years doing this job and it is only right I report events as they happened.

However, if you are easily offended or thought this city had moved on from the 1970s, then you might be best advised to give next week’s report a miss.

I promise I won’t be put out and will welcome you back the following week. If you do decide to read it then please don’t shoot the messenger.