Showing posts from July, 2008

Smoke Gets in Huns Eyes

Seems the usually efficient Teutonic Knights have come a cropper. The smoking ban in Germany has gone up in, er, smoke, after the German High Court ruled it unlawful. This is a little annoying, I must say, as I was looking forward to some cleaner drinking air on my next visit. The ban, it seems, discriminates against one-roomed venues, as mult-room venues were allowed a smoking room. That seems pretty obvious, and could have had similar repercussions here if proponents of smoking rooms would have had their way. Now the ban will either have to be lifted, or imposed universally. In the meantime, venues of 75 metres or less will be allowed to carry on puffing. Just the sort of place that needs a ban, you would think. Those Krazy Krauts, eh?

Ruby Tuesday

There I was, pondering one of life’s great mysteries-how long exactly should a Long Tail be? Sadly before I could come to any conclusion, my concentration was broken. A message from Eddie, the eager, legal beagle. Could I join him for some rice wine and bento? I agreed, providing we had a drink first.

So it was that we kicked off in the Dogs. Eddie, being a well known weather jinx, ensured that our al fresco experience was brief. Never fear, we were more than comforted by pints of Outlaw Wild Mule, and Phoenix White Monk. Next stop was the Towler and some excellent Golden Pippin. Naturally one pint led to another, and despite my pleas to leave, Eddie forced me to stay. The Manx Minx was soon on the dog and bone. She’d finished ripping innocent teeth out and was expecting Eddie back to polish the gold taps in the bathroom. Like the British in India, we knew it was time to leave, so we tucked into our last drinks. However, it would have been rude to say bonne nuit without a nightcap, so …

Mad Dogs & Englishmen

The weather, for once, was on our side. Trafford & Hulme Camra were coming over to see some of the (many) delights of Bury. The idea has been for some al fresco drinking, but recent experiences had cast a doubt on whether that would be possible. However, Apollo did his thing and, phew, wot a scorcher.

The natural starting point was the Trackside, where the only problem was the snail like service. George Wright Summer Sizzler was good, but a bit on the strong side to kick off with, so I stuck to Acorn Yorkshire Pride for the duration. This 3.7% session bitter was straw coloured and had a pronounced bitter edge. Very good, as Acorn tend to be, I thought. However, Stopwatch Sid found it too one-dimensional and complained it wasn’t well balanced. Exactly why I liked it. Well balanced? Blimey, we’re on a piss up, mate, not wine tasting in Aix-en-Provence.

Shepherding the day trippers onto the bus, we headed, via the scenic route, to the Pack Horse in Affetside. A check yesterday had rev…

Don't Put Your Daughter On The Stage, Mrs Worthington

So, an evening at the theatre. Such an event requires very precise and specific warm up drinking. Mindful of the long day ahead tomorrow, I resisted the chance to start on Old Rosie-that way lies madness. Instead, I sampled some Caledonian Lorimer’s Cask Lager, as recommended by Tandleman. Now TM has obviously been reading some tasting notes as he informs us that it’s made with Strisselspalt hops-a new one on me as well. However, my readers being of a different sophistication are interested in more prosaic information. Basically, is it shite or not? The answer being, no. It’s a well balanced pint with the wheat and toasted malt combining to give a smooth mouth feel.

Also tried was Marstons Old Empire. This 5.7% is an excellent replica of a traditional IPA. Or, previously noted, what we expect from a “traditional” IPA. Certainly, with Marstons having that love-it, or hate-it Burton Snatch flavour, this is the best they produce. The stronger alcohol content seems to suit their style of b…

How The Other Half Lives

According to the trade press, 39 out of 41 premises in Kensington & Chelsea tested positive for traces of cocaine. What it didn't say was that when the same test was done in Bury, 40 out of 41 tested positive for black pudding and tripe.

Going Going Gone?

All of a sudden Bury seems to be experiencing the pub crisis that is sweeping Britain. The number of pubs, and we’re talking decent boozers here, that are closed and boarded is quite worrying. Of course, as everywhere, we’ve actually been haemorrhaging for years, but losses have been at a steady drip-drip rate. And with the odd new opening, and some of the old ones getting a second chance, it’s been easy to ignore the problem. Time was when you just waited for a new tenant to move in and see what changes that brought. Not anymore. Now you have to seriously wonder if they are ever coming back into use.
A quick look round illustrates the point. Up in Ramsbottom, you’ve got the Good Samaritan. Once a thriving local, its closure has to be ascribed to the mismanagement of Enterprise Inns. Seems they’re not actually interested in running pubs anymore. If that’s the case, then they should get off the pot. The longer it remains closed, the less chance there is of it coming back into use. It’s …

Can't Stand Up For Falling Down

Went to my local brewery. Got pissed. Staggered home.

If You Can't Beat Them

New licensee Belal Hussain has got an interesting take on the old supermarket v pub battle. The former trainee accountant must have thought if the supermarkets can sell shite in bulk, cheap, why can’t a pub? Hence his strategy at the Marksman in West Bromwich. Apparently he’s selling the likes of John Smiths, Strongbow, Carlsberg etc at 89p a pint. His profit margin is only 2p a pint, but he is selling 3000 pints a day. To keep the peelers happy, he’s limiting it to four pints a customer. His stated aim is to “bring the pub back to the people.” Either that or he just likes keeping tight fisted scrotes happy.

These Boots Are Made For Walking

A bright, dry, summer’s evening was the perfect excuse for some al fresco action. First port of call was the Sundial for some Wainwrights. The recent renovation added an extensive, fenced-in, back patio drinking area and an unusual, completely covered, side drinking zone. A short stroll up to the Towler brought some al fresco Golden Pippin. A bench in the car park isn’t the most scenic of locations but al fresco is still al fresco. Obviously, others shared my sentiment, as all the seats at the side, and the back, of the pub were taken. However, judging by the unmistakable odour of wacky-baccy, some people needed more than Copper Dragon to stimulate their minds.

Time to jump on the bus and hit the Dogs. As usual, an excellent line up here. However, still stinging from my recent encounter with it, Leyden Time & Tide went untried. Instead I made do with the likes of Phoenix Arizona and the even better Phoenix Spotland Gold. The world of real ale can be a small one and, purely by chanc…

Baa-army Behaviour

A 27 year old man has been arrested on suspicion of sexually molesting sheep in London. Apparently not the brightest bulb in the box, he conveniently kept leaving his clothes behind for the boys in blue to find. Now, I know that it’s a bit grim in the big L. What with Bonkers Boris now running the show, pea-soupers, and the like. Not to mention the difficulty of getting a good pint and finding somewhere to serve you after 11pm. But really, is this what cockney sparrows do for fun when not manning their stalls in Albert Square?

Eternal Sunshine Of the Spotless Mind

A slightly odd outing tonight. It all began reasonably enough, with a message from Eddie, the eager, legal beagle. He wanted to discuss the role of the grandparent in Pomeranian society, over a drink or two. Knowing it’s a subject close to his heart, what could I do but agree?

The posse’s first stop in Manchester was the Angel, as visited on Saturday. Phoenix West Coast IPA was fresh on and in superb condition, bursting with pungent hops. So good, in fact, that Don Ricardo had downed his first before we mere mortals had taken the froth off ours. This led to the first of his off-topic ramblings. Having chatted to the very amenable host, naturally we had to delay our exit. Curse these places for serving such good beer. It was nice to see some of the local apartment dwellers popping in for a drink. If it’s to get the success it deserves, then these are the regulars it needs to attract.

Somewhat reluctantly we pushed on to the Marble Arch. Here we were met by a quite amazing beer. Oakham En…

Riding the Crest

An update on the super strength lager situation as highlighted by Tandleman in a recent post. It seems that Carlsberg Special Brew will soon be officially only suitable for wimps. In a move sure to delight the SD, Wells & Young have launched Crest Super Strength. A beer for real men (and women, of course) it weighs in at an impressive 10%. According to the blurb, it’s brewed with the finest German hops and has a unique taste “for those that appreciate a beer of distinction.” Quite. Personally I won’t be touching the stuff. Anyone else thinking of trying it, please don’t. It contains 5 units of alcohol. More than the government’s, very scientific, daily recommendation for rough-tough men, never mind girlies. So don't say I haven't warned you.

Rather worryingly, this was the first press release that I’ve received as a blogger. Either they appreciate my important position in the online community. Or they were targeting me as a potential customer???

Liquid Lunch at the Marble

Another day of unpredictable weather in Britain’s finest city. Sunshine, rain, sunshine, rain-I began to sense a pattern. Hoping for more consistency on the beer front, we had decided to meet at the newly opened Angel. This was once a famous Manc pub landmark called The Beerhouse. In those glory days it served up to 12 real ales and was nirvana for fledging scoopers. A series of changes meant it fell on hard times and the last incumbents were notorious for crap beer and a very unpleasant pong. It ended up boarded up and seemingly doomed. However, it has been resurrected as a dining establishment under the supervision of a famous local chef.

Renovation is still under way, both in and outside. Indeed, the old signage is still visible over the door. Being on Angel Street, it makes sense to call it “The Angel” and this was, apparently, its original name. Although, that must have been quite some time ago, as I couldn’t find anyone who knew it in that incarnation. The interior is nice and br…

Night of the Living Dead

Interesting concept at the Crescent. A “There Isn’t a beer festival as originally planned,” beer festival. Basically, beers were made available from the cellar to complement the choice from the bar. Meaning a choice of about 22 beers-not bad for a wet Friday night.

I kicked off with York Peaches & Cream (3.9%) which was golden and pretty bland, with only a little fruit sweetness to distinguish it. Fearing the worst, I got Leyden Time & Tide (4.4%) out of the way next. Sure enough, this dark beer didn’t disappoint. Completely one-dimensional with the usual unpleasant Leyden tang. Talking of dodgy breweries, I was interested in trying Bazens Old Punch Ale as I had sampled it last week at the Castlefield Hotel. It was in a lot better nick in the Crescent and had lost some of that strange sharpness, but was still no great shakes.

3B’s Bee-jing (3.9%) was, surprise, surprise a sweet honey beer. Can’t see the point in them myself. Of the others tried, the best dark beer was probably H…

Fixing a Hole

Someone once told me that dentistry is the perfect job for a woman: they get to inflict pain on men and get paid for it. I hasten to add that my own dentist is, of course, a fragrant vision of total professionalism. Anyway, having survived my ordeal in the dreaded chair, there was still plenty of the day to kill. Unfortunately the inclement weather precluded anything too overtly summerly. A little too early to hit the Margaritas, so I had to find something less useful to do. Luckily, despite the decline in marriages, divorce is still popular.

However, man cannot live by work alone. And as Oscar Wilde said, I can resist everything except temptation. So eventually I found myself enjoying a cheeky one in the Sundial. The next logical stop was the Towler, and who am I to argue with logic? Nice to see it busy and, more importantly, serving some excellent Golden Pippin. However, man cannot live by Golden Pippin alone-well he could try-so a bus ride into town seemed in order.

Once safely cocoo…

Another Brick In The Wall

So it was a case of down tools and everybody out. And, never one to argue with the wishes of the workers soviet, I was showing my support by keeping up the pickets morale. Yes, I was standing shoulder to shoulder with them on the frontline, when the call came. The WHB was primed and ready for action and wondering if I could join him for a drink.

What a dilemma. Could I be excuse myself from the cut and thrust of picket politics? Ok, technically, this had only actually consisted of me chatting to a rather winsome typist from Bolton, but still...Reluctantly, I decided to sacrifice myself and meet up with him. Ok, technically, I was heading for the pub anyway, but still...

In the Trackside we were met by the unusual sight of a crowded bar. Initially I thought my comrades has used their initiative and set up an ideal command post. However, it turned out that these were no slouching strikers, but respectable members of the teaching profession. In fact, they seemed rather miffed by the assump…


Well the feta pizza was tasty but, cor blimey, it doesn’t half make you thirsty. I was gagging for a drink all day (no change there I hear you cry) before receiving an answer to my prayers. Eddie, the eager, legal beagle, had secured a kennel for himself and the Manx Minx. What better excuse for a celebration? I organised a posse and we looked forward to an evening of champagne, caviar, and dancing girls. This being Bury, however, we had to settle for a pint in the Trackside.

Elgoods Black Dog (3.6%) is another dark Mild which has lost the “Mild” tag. It made for an easy enough start, although there was a little too much roast in this sample, I felt. Northern Hit & Run (4.5%) somewhat divided the party with one individual unable to stand even the aroma. The rest of us thought this blond, raspberry beer was quite palatable. I alternated this with Blakemere Lady (4.3%) which was also a blond beer, but with much more bitterness.

After lubricating our joints, we took a stroll to admire …

Feta'll Be The Day

Feta is a Greek cheese made with either sheep's or a mixture of sheep's and goat's milk. It's white and soft with no rind and has a solid consistency with only a very few small holes if any at all. It has an agreeable if slightly acidic taste and a rich salty flavour which it gets from having been aged in a brine bath for up to a month.

The earliest written records of the name feta date back to the 17th century when Greece was ruled by the Venetians and the name is said to derive from the Latin word "Fete" which refers to the practice of cutting the cheese into slices so they can be placed in wooden barrels. Cheese historians still argue over whether the production of feta gets a mention in The Odyssey, but it seems more probable that it was some other, not dissimilar cheese.

Traditional feta is matured in wooden barrels or tin casks at cheese-making units located inside the designation of origin areas (DOA) in Greece, namely Macedonia, Thrace and Epirus in Nor…

Money Money Money

An unusual little crawl this time. Spurning the obvious Manchester choices-N/4, Oxford Road etc, we were reconnoitring the Liverpool Road pub scene. This is the area that houses the Science and Industry Museum. At one time a popular crawl in its own right, the emergence of bars and pubs nearer the main thoroughfare has somewhat overshadowed this area.

We started at the far end at the Castlefield Hotel. This is an unusual, modern YMCA complex that boats real ale on the bar. The bar itself is non-descript, typical of hotels throughout the land. Although there are three handpumps, today only is in action. This was dispensing Bazens Old Punch Ale. Rather a strange one this. Amber coloured, slightly hazy with no aromatic hops, yet it had plenty of bittering hops that gave a dry aftertaste. Having nothing to compare it to, I can’t say if it was supposed to an unbalanced beer, or was it a dodgy lot? However, it was very competitively priced, at only £2 a pint.

Next stop was the Ox. When this w…

The Ref Does Need Glasses

It’s no secret that our Eastern comrades take a slightly more relaxed view of drinking than we do. I’ve seen for myself how their love of the hard stuff is so deeply ingrained that any attempt to prohibit it meets stiff resistance. Henc, drinking on the job is still quite common, although not always as public as Sergei Shmolik’s performance this week.

Mr. Shmolik (recently voted Belarus referee of the year 2007) was overseeing a Belarus Premier League match when it became apparent something was amiss. An onlooker at the clash between Vitebsk and Naftan said: "In the second half, he hardly moved around the pitch at all. By the end of the game the reason was evident to everyone - the referee was drunk. This was confirmed with a medical test later in the evening."

Mr. Shmolik refutes any allegations of a vodka binge and claims he merely had back pain. Judge for yourself at

Trouble & Strife

Honestly, you can’t take them anywhere. You’d think a woman would just be grateful for being allowed through the doors of Hopwood Unionist Club, but, oh no, there’s always one troublemaker.

I’m totally appalled by this. I had no idea people were choosing to drink in Heywood. In my experience people can’t wait to get out of Monkey Town. Preferably before dark. And while I’m at it, the quality of journalism here is terrible. It fails to answer THE big question-the club is supplied by J.W.Lees, but is it cask?

Home Boys Home

There I was planning a night of quiet embroidery, when a message zooms in from Eddie, the eager, legal beagle. Could I join him for a discussion on the morality of subservience in the lower echelons of the civil service in post-Weimar Brandenburg? Well for such an important topic, who could refuse? The Queen Mother’s 100th birthday doily will just have to wait.

I had a cheeky warm up in Wetherspoons with a pint of Skinners Betty Stogs. Looking at the pumpclip, I was struck by the resemblance to a one-time barmaid at the Seven Stars. Ah, those were the days. Putting nostalgia back in its box, I headed for the Trackside. An excellent board awaited me with several tempting beers on offer.
Beers tried included Butcombe Gold which finished a little sweet for me. An old friend-Titanic Iceberg, proved to be in very good nick and its mix of crisp hoppiness proved too good to restrict to one pint. A new one to me was Wentworth Imperial Ale (3.8%) which, like a lot of their beers, turned out to…

D Day For Davis

So it’s the big one today. As has been mentioned by many interested in these things, well known nutter Hamish Howitt is standing. It’s a little unfair on the other “fringe” candidates-Mad Cow Girl, Church of Militant Elvis etc. After all, what chance do they have when faced with someone who’s one nut shy of a dry roasted packet? I did email him suggesting he change his party’s name to “Freedom to kill anyone standing innocently next to me” but so far, no response.

There is only one serious candidate for me-Gemma Garrett. She’s representing The Miss Great Britain Party. As she is the reigning Miss Great Britain, it makes sense. Now I think I owe Miss Garratt an apology. I initially thought it was all a publicity stunt and that it was a made up party. Ok, I never got any further than the picture of her in a bikini, but it turns out they have proper policies and everything. Blimey. Who’d have thought it, eh? And as she has correctly pointed out, they are the only party fighting on a full…
Another Rainy Night In Georgia Bury

More of our beautiful summer weather curtailed any ideas of an adventurous nature. Just a quick pit stop at the Towler for some Golden Pippin. As I sat there swaying along to Procol Harlem, sipping the sweet nectar of the gods, I had no sense of the impending disaster. Traumatic as it is to recall, these things need to be shared. Innocently I went to the bar for a refill. And that's where it happened. The Golden Pippin had run out! How could this happen to me? What had I done to deserve such a fate? I felt like I was in an episode of "999" and Michael Buerk would appear at any time. But there was no time to feel sorry for myself. Drinking time was ticking away and action was needed. Realising a bus was due imminently; I dashed out into the tipping rain just in time to see the bus about to pass me. I don't think the driver was impressed when I threw myself in his path, but it did ensure he stopped. Well, it was an emergency.

Before to…

Manic Monday

Was it still the buzz from yesterday, or just undigested Jaipur IPA? Either way, no Monday morning blues meant I got lots done today. I made an application for ancillary relief, fixed the microwave, and began writing an algorithm program to catalogue my music collection. And that was just the start, I then, hold on-I’m doing a Stonch here and going off piste. Next I’ll be coming over all poetic like Tandleman!

So, back to basics, as John Major use to say to Edwina after a night on the pop. It’s a cliché but a night in the big city does provide a good excuse for liquid nourishment. I kicked off with Tom Wood’s Bomber County (4.8%) but I should have known better. Wetherspoons are always putting their beers on and they always fail to impress. This had too much roast malt and too little of anything else to be palatable. It got slightly better with Highgate Fox’s Knob (4.4%) but this also failed to ignite me, despite its claims to be dry-hopped.
Luckily Taylors Landlord came to the rescue an…

I Can't Stand The Rain

As predicted, heavy rain accompanied us all the way to Thornbridge Hall in Derbyshire. The reason for the long haul was to present beer of the festival awards, and have a nosey round the garden party. Oh, and hopefully try some of their beers on their home turf. There must have been a sense of optimism in the air as several Camra branches made the long journey, when, quite frankly, any sensible individual would have taken one look and gone somewhere else.

Being made of sterner stuff, I prepared for the coming festivities with breakfast and beer at Wetherspoons. This proved crucial in the long day ahead. On arrival we immediately made a beeline for the brewery. This was a small, compact affair, with a beer stand opposite serving 3 Thornbridge beers. Disappointingly, these proved to be the only beers available between both bars-it would have been ideal if one bar sold a different selection.
White Swan (3.5%), despite not being clear, was quite tasty for its strength, with a bitter-lemon …

Gone to the Dogs

Possibly a BDO (Big Day Out) tomorrow, so just a couple of pints early doors. Well that was the plan, anyway. I met Archimedes and the WHB up at the Dogs, hoping for some al fresco drinking. Unfortunately, when they said sunshine and showers, they meant it literally. Everytime we tried to go outside, the heavens opened. Not content with rain we were also treated to hailstone-in sunny July, for pity’s sake. Fortunately there were more than enough beers to keep us busy.

Salopian Lemon Dream (4.5%) was an interesting start. A wheat beer in which you could definitely taste the lemon, but I think the Cascade hops also contributed to the dry finish. Ossett Quicksilver (5%) had a nice golden hue but was disappointing by their high standards. Too much of the strength came through in the taste-never a good sign. Their Silver King (4.3%) was much better, with a good, clean finish. Kelham Island Pale Rider (5.2%) wasn’t bad, but it doesn’t appear to be the beer it once was.
Also tried was Shardlow…

Friday Fest

A mini-fest at the Smithfield provided the excuse for some Friday night drinks in Manchester. Not that I wanted to go, of course, but Pythagoras and Archimedes can be quite insistent. So I sacrificed an evening of embroidery for the delights of the hop field. I had a couple of warm up pints of Phoenix Tennis Elbow (4.5%) at Bar Fringe-nice, light and hoppy, before crossing to the Smithfield.

One of the problems that the Smithfield has during these events is the method of dispense. To supplement the handpumps on the bar, several beers are served from jugs. This obviously impacts on the quality, with flat, sometimes warm beer being the result. Okay for the gaggle of scoopers present, but more of a problem for those who prefer quality over quantity. There were actually spare handpumps that could have been pressed into use, but there was a definitely sense of organisational lethargy. This was compounded by them running out of jugs and then serving one beer out of an ice bucket!

Out of the b…

As You Were

Very much a case of how you were. A long day meant that I only managed to get to the Sundial in time to witness the final moments of Andy Murray’s ass whooping. It was quieter than previous evenings but it was still relatively early. The Wainwrights was still in good form, but I pushed on to the Hark to Towler. It seems everyone wants to try the Golden Pippin. And who can blame them at £1.85 a pint? Talking to the landlord, he said that it’s a loss leader for him. I don’t think it needs to be-its reputation speaks for itself. However, obviously I didn’t tell him that. Never look a gift horse etc.

A few pints sunk and then a quick bus ride to Bury. The Trackside didn’t have anything to compare with Golden Pippin, but I made do with Wolf Straw Dog. This is a 4.5% pale Weisse beer. It doesn’t actually taste like a Weisse beer, being rather bland, but did suffice for a pint or two. Rather foolishly I decided on a nightcap at Wetherspoons. Naturally there wasn’t anything decent beer wise av…

Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head

With a shortage of volunteers for a trip to Southport’s wine festival, I found myself at something of a loose end. Step forward Eddie, the young, eager, legal beagle. We decided to have a quick canter round Bury’s periphery, taking advantage of the nice weather. Oh how naive we were. Al fresco drinking is a gift that the Gods only rarely bestow., as we were about to find out.

Things started promisingly at the Dusty Miller. This is a tied Moorhouses pub and delivered an acceptable pint of Premier. And we even got to sit outside. This feat was repeated at the Help Me Thro’, where Wainwrights was the drink of choice. This, like most Thwaites beers, isn’t outstanding, but the Help Me Thro’ usually serves a very acceptable pint of it.

From there we hailed a hackney carriage to transport us to the Brown Cow. A near miss here. One of the handpumps was turned round, but luckily it proved to be an Allgates, so no tears shed there. The other beer on offer was Cottage Mallard IPA (4.1%) which wasn…