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Manchester, United Kingdom
Tyson is a beer hound and cheese addict living in the beery metropolis paradise known as Manchester
If the people are buying tears, I'll be rich someday, Ma

Wednesday, 25 June 2008

Take Me Home Country Roads

A nice, dry day with a promise of some sunshine. An ideal opportunity for a little peregrination. The Lord Raglan at Nangreaves was having a beer festival and who better than Seasider and I to check it out.

To get there for a lunchtime start, first we had to endure a journey on the legendary Nanny Flyer. This little bus winds its way round various back streets before making the journey up to the Raglan. However, the journey lent me the chance to kill two birds with one stone. For, at the bottom of the road leading up to the Raglan, is the Hark to Dandler. This is a J.W.Lees hostelry that use to be just a locals boozer. However, it’s had a makeover, and was now pushing the food angle-with some success at weekends, I’d heard.

First impressions were favourable. Smartly set out tables and chairs now dominate the far side next to the windows. Apparently this has upset some locals and I could understand why, as it did mean the normal drinking area was vastly reduced. Only Lees Bitter was on offer and we enjoyed a pint of this whilst we perused the small, but attractive menu. It promotes itself on the Steak on a Slate concept, but it was the homemade cheese & onion pie that caught my attention. This duly arrived, and came as described-with proper chips and a nice portion of mushy peas. The pie was excellent with a light pastry that was a delight to bite into. Very satisfying, and at £6.20, cheaper than some other, less able establishments.

I couldn’t help but notice, though, that the place was completely empty during our stay. The pub gamely stays open during the day, but even with good food and a nice setting, competition for daytime punters is fierce. We’d timed it nicely, so we just had to step outside and get the next Nanny Flyer up the hill. Now when people think of country inns, they tend to conjure up images of homely pubs, good food and cheerful hosts. The Lord Raglan is none of these. Well, it’s quite nice inside, but the food (apart from Raglan chips) is so-so, they brew distinctly homebrew beers which they sell for wallet busting prices and the owners are famously miserable. Still, fortune favours the brave.

Inside the Raglan, we once more found ourselves to be the only customers. In fact, the barman kept disappearing to load up the van, leaving the bar unattended. Yes, I was sorely tempted to self service. Anyway, there were 9 handpumps on the bar, but only 5 were in use. And the promised marquee was something of a disappointment. Both the Slaters Top Totty and Bank Top Bikes & Trikes were on good form, though-you have to say they do keep their beers well. However, there were a couple of their own beers on and I, foolishly, decided to try the new one. Referee (3.8%) was surprisingly dark and absolutely horrendous. The aroma was bad enough with smoky malt and some unpleasant unidentifiable pong. Heavily smoked malt gave way to a bile aftertaste that you usually only get at the back of your throat after you’ve thrown up. I found the only way I could actually drink any was by holding my nose. Even then I could only manage half before admitting defeat. Seasider, being Leyden’s No 1 fan, naturally found it “interesting” and “not too bad.” Nothing as queer as folks, is there?

Now you think that they’d be interested in paying customers, but oh no, not at the Rag. Last orders were called at 230, although I did manage to get another half an hour out of them. Interesting to see that there was no one dining here-in the summer, once upon a time, they’d be busy every day. So it was back down the hill and some more Lees-this time al fresco. Come teatime and a steady trickle of locals started appearing. However, we took our leave and walked down to the main road in order to get the bus to Ramsbottom.

The plan was to call in at the Good Sam first. Seeing that was still closed up-despite rumours to the contrary-we proceeded straight to the Hare & Hounds. Here an excellent selection of ten handpumps greeted us and kept us busy for the duration of the night. Ossett Wot No England (4.3%) was copper coloured and a nice bitter tang to it. Of the rest, two old Phoenix favourites stand out-Hopsack (3.8%) and White Tornado (4.3%) both of which were very thirst quenching. The strain did begin to show round the tenth pint, when Seasider switched to a mix of Erdinger and Fruli. You can’t take these Fylde Coast people anywhere.

A grand day out, finished off in classic style at Pizza Pioneer.

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