good friday

Good Friday. An important day in the religious calendar. Also, a public holiday, and therefore a good excuse for an all dayer. Eschewing the obvious delights of Bury as, unfortunately, these occasions bring out the amateur drinkers in droves. Therefore, Manchester was the appointed imbibing spot for the day.

The Marble Arch at lunchtime wasn’t too busy and seats were quickly acquired. Somewhat late due to Don Juan Ricardo’s shaving accident, Pythagoras and Archimedes were already getting stuck in. The Whitefield Holts Bandit had managed to get a lift and was bearing his injury with manly fortitude. The problem with starting a crawl at the Marble is that often the temptation to stay is so strong that any thoughts of a crawl are soon forgotten. The excellent range, and not wanting to abandon the WHB, meant that the intended one or two became slightly more. The usual suspects were tried-JP Best and Manchester Bitter and found to be in good order. Titanic New World (4.4%) was disappointing-an amber beer that hinted at aromatic New World hops which were sadly absent. Grindleton (from Clitheroe) Ribble Best (3.7%) was light and had a pleasing bitter edge. I’ve had a few of their beers now and they are growing on me. Also present was the formidable Thornbridge Jaipur IPA (5.9%) which gave a citrus aroma, before a smooth, fruity, taste, and a long lasting, bitter-dry, finish. We eventually moved on, with the WHB citing his injury for not joining us. Although, the continental barmaids may just have been a factor in his reluctance to move on.

The Smithfield was the next port of call, where every beer turned out to be on the paler end of the scale. Grindleton Ribble Rouser (3.8%) was pleasantly bitter, and Full Mash Séance (4%) was fruity and quite moreish. The only disappointment was Salopian Shropshire Gold (3.8%) which is neither very golden, nor very good really. Don Juan and I wandered across the road to the Bar Fringe and were rewarded with Phoenix Spotland Gold (4.1%) which was zesty and full of hops. We would probably have settled here for the night, if not for the draught blowing in from the fire exit door that the smokers insisted on leaving open. Tiring of playing shut the smokers out, we called in at the English Lounge and tried a Taylors Landlord. This was in quite good nick, and the antics of some drunken girls proved cheap entertainment.

Back in Bury we called in at the TS and tried a couple, including the excellent Fyne Innishail (3.6%) which was golden, crisp and quite quenching. As the place wasn’t too busy we decided we could leave and come back later. Our destination was Pizza Pioneer and the mission-to get Don Juan to join the 15in club. His weapon of choice-Hot & Spicy with extra garlic, double chillies, and peppers. Even this wasn’t enough to satisfy his animal cravings, and a bowl of jalapeno peppers was quickly added to the mix. Much to the amazement of the staff, even this wasn’t sufficient, and only when enormous quantities of freshly sliced chillies were added, did he declare himself happy with the spice level. Of course all that spice had made him thirsty and we headed back to the TS for refreshment. In our absence the place had become packed with late night drinkers-where had they been all day? Standing by the bar proved the only option-possibly a good thing as the beer was definitely taking effect now and Don Juan was looking decidedly unsteady. The good news was that Phoenix March Hare (4.4%) had appeared on the roster and its bitter edge was just the thing for my somewhat jaded palate. A phone call summoning Ricardo home spelt the end of the night, probably no bad thing, and well, last orders had been called anyway.

A very good beer day with something decent to drink in every stop.


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