First stop was the Egerton Arms in Chelford. This was originally built as a 16th century coaching inn and formed part of Lord Egerton’s estate. The family sold it and it eventually became part of the Chef & Brewer chain before returning to private ownership in 2009. It’s the local CAMRA branch Pub of the Year and stocks a number of local ales alongside Bombardier and Golden Pippin.
Next up we had three hours to try and do justice to Macclesfield. Macc has long had a reputation for its density of pubs. However, in recent times, as elsewhere, both pub companies and family brewers alike have streamlined their estates. But here, unlike most places elsewhere, this has led to the vacant pubs being snapped up and transformed into free houses by keen individuals. This has totally changed the town’s drinking dynamics from just a few years ago.
With nearly 20 pubs to potentially drink in, hard choices had to be made. The Waters Green is an old favourite and long established Good Beer Guide entry. Fitting, therefore, that an old and long established CAMRA narrow boat enthusiast should already be propping up the bar when I arrived. Buxton Moor Top was the pick in here. Some later arrivals made the mistake of trying the Happy Valley beer, despite bad experiences with it in the previous pub. Once bitten, twice shy etc
After the Waters Green, there is a good stretch of pubs along Sunderland Street. The Treacle Tap, a small bar converted from a saddlery, is particularly impressive with an ever changing list of local beers and a friendly welcome. In fact, all the new pubs visited were good and offered some excellent beers.
The Wharf on Brook St offered us al fresco drinking and some heavy hitters: Marble, Fyne and Magic Rock. Not too shabby at all. Our Goostrey correspondent has apparently drunk the Macc dry of Marble, but they still had a very good selection on (Moor Top for me) and some of that new fangled keg stuff. Some Nogne Citra was procured but sadly this was plainly the bottom of the barrel. Or keg in this case.
The Baths Hotel on Green Street isn’t a new kid on the block but it is under new management. A nice little corner-terrace boozer, it’s now a free house offering various guest beers and a sunny beer backyard. After exhaustive (or is that exhausting) research on the Macclesfield pub scene, it was time to push on to our last two destinations.
Sutton Hall in Sutton is simply stunning. It’s a 400 year old manor house set in its own grounds and is close to the Macclesfield canal. It was refurbished by the Brunning & Price pubco and won the 2010 CAMRA National Pub Design Refurbishment award. The sight of candle-free lighting and hot running water left many Oldham members agog.
The final stop was the Bollington brewery tap: the Vale Inn. This is a single-roomed, family-run free house dating from the 1860s. It boasts a plethora of Bollington beers alongside a couple of guest beers. The White Nancy and Long Hop seemed to go down particularly well here. A nice finale to a very enjoyable day.