wetherspoons here we come

A message from Eddie: the eager, legal, beagle. Could I join him for a beer sojourner this evening? I tried pleading with him that I was intending to paint my toenails, but he was insistent. I had to go out and gorge myself on the hop-apparently it’s the law. Like beerites up and down the land, we wanted to check out the start of the Wetherspoons Beer Festival. Tandleman had already teased me with the delights available at the Rochdale outlet, whilst Bury had nothing to offer but the faint odour of last night’s vomit. So it was that we hoisted up our scooping buckets and headed for the bright lights of Manchester.

First stop was the Paramount on Oxford Road. This is the best JDW outlet in town and didn’t disappoint tonight. A full range of festival beers were available, all at £1.19 a pint for Camra members. The choice included Youngs and the Stomach’s favourite beer-Brains Rev James. We tried Marston’s Sunlight Ale (3.8%) and Bateman’s Spring Goddess (4.2%). The Marston’s was full of the Burton Snatch-sulphur mixed with a slight nutty taste. The Bateman’s was disappointing-it had a metallic edge which spoilt the otherwise pleasing mineral taste.

Next stop was the Waterhouse, opposite the Town Hall. A good selection of beers on here as well. Bateman’s Hooker (4.5%) was fruity, spicy, and had a nice mineral hop aftertaste. Even better was Wychwood Mad Hatter (4.2%) where the hop resin was very prominent in the aroma. A reddish beer, it delivered a biscuit-malt crunch and a very long, dry, bitter finish. An excellent beer and I could have happily slumped there for several more. However, we dragged ourselves next door and I tried Brakspear Bitter (3.4%) which carries an amazing kick for its strength. A good mix of hop and fruit, with a bitter-sweet finish. Brains SA (4.2%) in comparison was, frankly, a little bland.

A route march took us into the Unicorn on Church Street which seems to be finding its feet again, as far as cask is concerned. Copper Dragon Challenger IPA (4.8%) was in good nick, and out of curiosity we tried a half of Boddingtons. This really is a shadow of its former self and should be put out of its misery. We wanted to try Robinsons Top Tipple (3.9%) so called in the Castle on Oldham Street. This was in good condition and an easy going session beer, but there’s no getting away from the fact that it tastes exactly like Unicorn Bitter-whatever their tasting notes say! The Crown & Kettle (for once) had a good selection, but alas we made the wrong choice. Eschewing Copper Dragon Golden Pippin, we went for Phoenix Arizona (4.1%) which initially seemed fine, but turned out to be cloying and not at all how it should be.

Time (and beer), was taking its toll now, but we still had time to call into Bar Fringe. It was the first day of their festival, but they had done a Bury JDW and hadn’t made any special arrangements. I was told this was because “no one drinks on a Thursday” which is ok, but then why advertise your festival as starting on one??? We did have Okell’s Dr Okell’s Eastern Spice (4.5%) which proved a very interesting beer. Light in colour, it uses 6 different hops, but it’s the coriander, spices, and ginger that give it a real kick. Very warming, but I’m not sure I could drink it all night. Last stop was the Smithfield across the road. Ossett Silver Fox (4.1%) was light with a good, clean, finish. However, Saltaire Blond (4%) was disappointing with a honey-sweet taste that didn’t appeal to our jaded palates.

Just time to dine at the legendary Hunters-rice and three for £3.50-note to self, next time dine before drinking. Then I just had time to get the tram back to Bury, leaving Eddie to go home, and give the Manx Minx a taste of the cat o’nine tails. Apparently, it’s compulsory over there in Manx Minx Land…


Have to agree about the Boddingtons, such a shame
linda said…
Waterhouse is ok, but the bar is too small for such a big place. And did they really have to put it right at the back of the pub?
mark said…
The manx minx sounds like a character from the Beano.

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