I am a cider drinker

"I am a cider drinker
I drinks it all of the day
I am a cider drinker
It soothes all me troubles away"

Usually if it’s raining in Lancashire, you can be assured it’s sunny everywhere else. And vice versa. So it was with high hopes that I set off for Hebden Bridge and the delights of sunny Yorkshire. Alas, it was not to be. A train ride over into that land of great verdure produced only more wind and rain. Very much like Bury, really. A pity, as the setting would have been ideal for a bit of al fresco. My destination? The international cider festival at the Stubbing Wharf.

The Stubbing Wharf is a deceptively large public house about a mile from the train station. One of its claims to fame is being mentioned in a work by Ted Hughes. As its name suggests, it’s on the side of the Rochdale Canal and hosts an annual cider festival. This is based upstairs with a mix of stillage and bottled cider. There was one on handpump-Lemaisson Organic Brut (4.5%) from Normandy. This was dry and quite moreish I thought. One problem was that these were being dispensed in plastic glasses, but a quick visit to the main bar solved that problem. From a good selection, I tried Oldershaw Regal Blonde (4.4%) which is a cask conditioned lager. Not too bad, if not in the class of Schallion. This provided me with a real glass with which to sample properly.

So began a session of experimentation with drinks like Cherry Perry (7%) and Dog Rough-which wasn’t. Disappointingly, the kitchen was closed during the fest, with a ploughman’s being available, for £3.50, from a moored canal boat. Carnivores were catered for with an outside hog roast. Luckily, we had seats, as the inclement weather meant the pub was soon pretty packed. The Morris Men (and controversial this, women) insisted on performing indoors, which was something of a nuisance. However, as cider was free for them, there was no way they were going to be denied.

After enough cider had passed through me, I tried the Little Valley Sixpenny Beer (3.7%) which was very light in colour but terrible thin and bland. A yomp back towards town took us to the Good Beer Guide listed Fox & Goose. This cosy, little pub also had a good selection to tempt the thirsty drinker. I sampled two excellent beers-Durham White Gold (4%) which was pale and hoppy, and Millstone Tiddlywinks, which was very crisp and hoppy.

A great find next-the Trades Club on Holme Street. Up the stairs in this assuming building are three handpumps serving Moorhouses Premier at £2 a pint, and two guest beers. June’s guest brewery is George Wright, and on offer was Pipe Dream and Roman Black. Both were excellent and it was interesting to discover that they regularly hold beer festivals. I was also pleased to see that they stocked some fine Macallan whisky, although the small matter of having spent up prevented me from actually trying one.

Then it was back to the station, via a nosey at the Inn on the Bridge. This was disappointing by Hebden Bridge standards, being a plastic, sterile place that, needless to say, didn’t have any of the real stuff. Back in Manchester it was time for nourishment at Hunters. Then a toilet stop at the English Lounge and a pint of Bombardier. I managed a pint of Copper Dragon Challenger IPA in the Unicorn before deciding to hit the tram and get nearer home. Back in welcoming Bury, there was only one real choice for a nightcap-Cheddar Valley Cider, naturally.



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