Remember the days when you took your school tie off, so you could get served in the pub?

There was no such thing as an ID check then. Now you’re likely to be asked to scan your passport.

Ah, the good old days. Slade following Gary Glitter on the jukebox, takeouts in cardboard containers and mobile phones hadn’t even been thought off.

Pubs were almost the only entertainment on offer and even dreadful dives not only survived but managed to make decent money.

But by the time Mr Gadd deserted his gang for Thailand, supermarkets were selling booze as a loss leader and even dippy Dave got himself a Motorola, pubs faced a good deal more competition.

All of a sudden, boozers which didn’t cut the mustard, or at least offer some with a decent gammon, egg and chips, were going under at an alarming rate.

If pubs didn’t shape up they went out of business, it was as simple as that – and, as punters started to demand more from their local boozer, they needed to know which ones offered the best service.

So, many years ago, yours truly began his humble mission to seek out all the best and worst pubs and to report back on what he found.

From Glasgow to Birmingham and from England’s brewing capital to darkest South London, I’ve been reviewing pubs for four decades.

When the call came to put retirement on hold and head for the bright lights of Brighton, the opportunity was too good to turn down.

And, having completed the best part of two years hanging around pubs in and around Brighton & Hove, I can honestly say we’re blessed with some of the best boozers anywhere.

So here is my review of all the pubs I’ve visited in 2018.

I discovered Brighton Rocks and it certainly does.

I didn’t allow the colourful clowns to scare me too much and settled in for a great pint of Krombacher with a group of French kissing cousins.

A good start to the year’s spying.

Next up was the Waggon and Horses, which is clearly a pub for old men and I fitted right in – the beer was particularly well kept. Unlike, sadly, the ladies’ toilets which were, for once, stinkier than the gents.

I didn’t venture much further the following week and found myself in a quandary at the William The Forth.

In the end I decided pub makeovers can be a good thing, as can be having two blond barmaids fighting for your attention.

It all came spectacularly off the rails at the Railway Bell.

Two rough pints and the barman wasn’t sure whether his dirty pipes or dirty glasses should take the blame. As welcoming as the urinals, you got at train stations 15 years ago.

Next it was the Seven Stars, a large imposing building with a wealth of history and a decent selection of gins.

I got good vibrations from my seat and was impressed they still offer beer mats. The barmaid was charming and reminded me of Crystal Tips.

I got a real surprise at The Schooner. This is a proper local pub where you’re made to feel welcome immediately.

Given that Greene King couldn’t make this one work, the current owner is punching above his weight. Great food too.

Called into Argus HQ, I found myself at the Amsterdam Bar with one of the best beers I’ve had all year – a Sharp’s Wolf Rock.

This red IPA, plus a jacket, tuna and beans offered great value. If you add in the sea view, red crushed velvet and gold bling this one has a lot to offer.

The question remains, does a Miller & Carter qualify as a pub?

The staff were away on their own Christmas party so perhaps it wasn’t surprising the grub took so long to arrive. I’d still take some persuading this isn’t just a restaurant, a sort of Harvester of steroids.

Grand Central was absolutely buzzing but there can’t be any excuse for a 20-minute wait at any bar – the worst service I’ve received all year.

Good job my own friendly Fijian, Lalauvaki, was on hand to keep me company.

The gents will make your eyes stream.

Heading out of town I found the Plough Inn at Rottingdean.

Duck didn’t make the menu but there were plenty of good-natured locals available and the owner was proud to proclaim: ‘Rugby and beer, what else is there? A great burger.

The Hare and Hounds looks and feels great, but I couldn’t help wondering if it wasn’t trying a little too hard.

There’s a great outside seating area and if you’re in a group you can make your own atmosphere.

But beware, it might be the prices making your eyes water here.

It might have felt like An American Werewolf in London, but the Duke of Wellington managed to get most things right.

It reminded me of the good old days and I even reminisced about my dear old dad. Sadly, I’m still no match for Jimmy White.

It was all sea dogs and beetroot burgers in The Victory.

It might have been all nautical, even down the Smee behind the bar and the fellow who delivered the food, but it also provided me with a perfect spot for my favourite pastime – people watching.

Into April now and I venture a further afield, though sticking with the nautical theme at the Crown and Anchor in Shoreham.

There might have been a fashion faux pas, but this was a real winner for a Sunday dinner.

Next up it was smelliest pub of the year as I headed for The Branch.

No longer with us, this one has been transformed into the New Unity.

Not sure if they used the jackhammers and flamethrowers I suggested.

Also, don’t know if double denim Sam behind the bar survived?

The Tiger Inn at East Dean is a bit off my usual beaten track.

Taking the number 12 I went in search of the perfect country boozer.

A log fire, a cracking pint of Longman and smiling bar staff.

I even managed a snooze on the Coaster bus home.

It might have been cash only at the next one, but it certainly wasn’t a ‘mare’.

No, the Bar la Mer was a very pleasant spot in the sunshine, despite all those bare-chested lads and inappropriately dressed ladies screaming obscenities.

Big and yellow it might be, but The Gladstone is no storage area.

This is a wonderful, thriving boozer right next to the city crem that boasts a whole host of great beers and brilliant garden area to boot.

This is definitely one I’ve returned to.

I can’t be doing with over-the-top plastic Irish pubs, so the Fiddlers Elbow in Boyce’s Street was a pleasant surprise, as was the price of the Guinness.

It’s hidden away but well worth the effort to find. Plenty of live music too.

Now, I’ve had as much flak following my visit to the Hope And Ruin as anywhere I’ve been.

Whilst I’m prepared to accept it’s a great music venue I must stick to my guns – okay, a few decent brews and a friendly mongrel, but the place is a tip.

Imposing and impressive, the Park View rises out of a leafy boulevard and is a great pub on so many levels.

Lovely touches and the perfect spot to sit outside in warm weather – more steps than any other pub in the city!

To infinity and beyond, well, to the Infinity Bar on St James’s Street anyway.

At the time it was Brighton’s newest gay venue and restricted to taking 40 through the door.

I’m not sure if that number has risen, but it’s still going strong.

All three doors of the Pump House were flung open to welcome our European cousins.

Stacks of history, two big boxes of Bonios, a flower-arranging barman and a trio of trilby hats.

A perfectly pleasant boozer but for me it lacked a little soul.

Quirky and cosy, the Caxton Arms is a little bit out of the way and a little bit out there.

I had a great time and met two of the best, most bubbly barmaids you could wish for.

A rare Gem with a bar billiards table and a pink flamingo.

The subs headlined it ‘Stinky and no beer, dear, oh dear’.

I said the Jolly Poacher was all fur coat and no knickers.

Either way this was a complete disaster and the poor old barmaid hadn’t got a clue what she was doing.

No amount of herbs could help this one.

Good Companions is a wide-open pub which has obviously been working hard to improve in recent times.

They had my mum’s lightshades and I felt like I was on a see-saw, but it’s got a lot going for it and in this neck of the woods this is where I’d go.

Pulling off the A23 proved to be a good move as I carved a new furrow and headed for The Plough, Pyecombe.

I got a good steer from local Bob and quickly realised Saeed is the conductor behind the bar who makes the whole place tick.

It might by nautical but there’s no room for naughtiness at the Bristol Bar. I enjoyed my visit here and really rated the place’s old-world charm.

Unfortunately, the response I got when I made a follow-up phone call left me wondering.

Got a beard? Fancy yourself as a trendy student?

Dress your mutt in a bandana?

Then this is the one for you. It’s no frills, but lots of shabby chic charm at Brighton Beer Dispensary.

What you certainly can’t deny is the quality and variety of drinks on offer.

A personal favourite for me, The Cobden Arms might be hidden away on a back street, but this is definitely worth seeking out.

Gus, the pink-haired barmaid, a visiting tradesman and, particularly Ang, made this place a joy to visit.

In the pink at The Lion & Lobster I was amazed at just how large this pub on Sillwood Street is.

I managed to upset a couple of folks with a comment about the lighting but they shouldn’t have been turned off as I really enjoyed this monster pub.

Next in August I was right on track for The Railway Inn at Portslade.

With the barriers down, I headed straight in – and I was glad I did.

I was greeted by all things trains, some decent music and a friendly bar lady with a great 50s retro look.

And now we come to Walkabout.

Getting in was a mission and by the time I’d been crashed into by a gaggle of worse-for-wear revellers all I really wanted to do was beat a hasty retreat.

Hi vis jackets and a vision of hell – no thanks very much.

Lounging about in Peacehaven wasn’t top of my ‘to-do’ list but rapid changes to the pub’s name meant The Lounge was where we found ourselves.

Not great, but not too bad in a place where there isn’t a massive amount of choice.

I came across the Earth & Stars completely by accident but unfortunately it was after a bank holiday so there were no buns available – a shame as I would have liked to try a burger. Uber trendy but a good deal to praise in this cosy corner pub.

Even trendier was the Old Albion in Hove.

This one is a real gin palace and I found myself sitting next to two of the most pretentious women I’ve ever come across.

I also met ‘Bam’ who’s number one fan is owner Bec.

Grand and imposing with lots of room for hipsters.

The Blue Anchor in Portslade served up fantastic Thai food and a great, reasonably priced pint.

I might not have been able to find anyone to play pool with but that wasn’t the pub’s fault and everything, including the gents, was immaculate.

Out of town again this week I discovered The Royal Oak in Lewes.

Open and welcoming the barmaid was friendly and welcoming.

For once I laid off the beer and discovered a beautifully crisp white wine.

It’s a good job the Oak turned out to be a decent boozer, I couldn’t walk another step!

They do say ‘third time lucky’ but unfortunately my visit to The Wick Inn in Hove broke the rule.

I’m pleased to be able to report that after a bad start it improved hugely – pleased because there’s an awful lot to like about The Wick.

Into October, first stop was The Stoneham.

It started with a herby haze and developed into what looked like a disappointing second-hand shop.

I’m reliably informed it’s since made huge strides and has had a full makeover – I must return.

It might be tucked away and play the role of a sports centre bar, but there is much to praise at The Sportsman in Withdean.

The ATM wasn’t playing ball at the Seagull’s old home, but the toilets were top class. It also gave me my first taste of Christmas.

A little worn round the edges it may be, but The Quadrant is an absolute joy.

The barmen made the place and I even joked about a Bromance.

Another great venue to see some excellent up-and-coming bands. Please don’t even consider doing it up.

At the Thomas Kemp I encountered Big Brother’s Pete in his full French Maid outfit with a duster in hand.

A bit of a Tardis this one and a lovely view of the sea on a crisp Autumn day. I’m reliably informed this is a top spot to watch rugby.

Into November I discovered a great old school watering hole with great down-to-earth people.

Orchestrated by Robbie William’s lookalike Paul, the Ladies Mile is a pub rooted in its community and appreciated by a whole host of local punters.

The Queens Head had two brilliant, bubbly barmaids and, although it was infested with infernal fairy lights, the décor was great – it even had old copies of the Argus pasted onto the walls.

The pizzas were delivered direct from the van at the station.

It’s not often I say this, but I might have been a tad unfair to Fiveways.

Fiona is an incredibly good sport and says I need to pop in again.

I’ve foolishly offered to help her out with some DIY. I’m told I should pop back when the footie is on.

A classic case of ‘It does what it says on the tin’.

The West Quay has all the good qualities offered by a Spoons with very few of the negatives.

It offers a mock manor feel with decent food and reasonably priced drinks. One of the best views you’ll get from a Wetherspoon pub.

The most unresponsive barmaid I’ve had the misfortune to meet all year.

It was a case of third time lucky at The Farmers – the first two pints were totally undrinkable.

It also showed some extremely interesting videos.

The loos are overdue a makeover.

If you’re going for a pint in The Lanes, then the Bath Arms should be close to the top of your list.

I enjoyed a great visit and PubSpy superfan Mac has promised to give it another try.

Mrs P loved being called luv and I loved everything else.

Back in Lancing I briefly enjoyed the New Sussex Hotel and Rocky before heading across the tracks to try The Railway.

Here I witnessed whirling dervishes with pool cues and a mum much more interested in her large Zinfandel.

Despite the warnings it was a reasonably uneventful visit.

Two chandeliers in the gents, a burning hot radiator and an equally warm welcome.

The Brighton Tavern offered great tunes, great beer and a bar full of friendly folk happy to chat.

A great atmosphere and Toby’s ears were some of the best I’ve ever stroked.

Last up this year was the Prince of Wales.

Star of the show was Trace with his sex-crazed kangaroo impression but there is far more to this friendly, no frills, boozer.

Definitely one that’s worth checking out in 2019.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this whistle stop tour of all the best, and worst, pubs I’ve visited throughout 2018.

If you would like me to visit your local in the New Year, please drop me an email and let me know why.

All the very best, Cheers PubSpy