A short walk took me to the faded grandeur of the Athenaeum. The owners have definitely got it wrong with this place. Situated at the heart of the banking and business part of the town, they should be aiming for the suits and Telegraph brigade. Instead you have 2 meals for £5-it’s not often Wetherspoons is made to look expensive and a distinct air of decay prevails. Although the Youngs was fine, the place was pitifully empty. And freezing as well-not a radiator, or open fire in sight.
No such problem at the Bank. This had the Friday afternoon buzz about it, with a mix of office workers dining and drinking. The winter sun was giving comfort to the smokers outside, with one particularly hardy Manchester lass opting for just a sleeveless top and shorts. As she said, it saves you getting changed for clubbing later. Unfortunately, Adnams East Green had gone, so I plumped for Hydes Insulation. It commemorates the work of LS Lowry, but although there was a hint of Goldings in the taste, overall it was pretty dull.
Breaking away from tales of woe from some lady bankers, Holdens Golden Glow was tried next. It was quite palatable, but the Fuggles struggled to hold back the sweetness. Nearly time for my evening rendezvous, but just time for a quickie in Piccadilly Kro. This light, glass fronted bar, caters for the trendies, but can (sometimes) deliver on the cask front. Today, it had Theakstons, Deuchars and Landlord on. The Landlord was very lively and went down well, although the £3+ pint takes some getting used to. Passing the still closed Castle, it was straight on to the Marble Arch.
Going via Mason Street, you encounter the sadly derelict Hat & Feathers. The sign still proclaims Holts Bitter for £1.40, but it’s a long while since any beer was served here. Any connection between Tandleman stopping going there and its demise is purely coincidental, we’re led to believe.
At 4pm the Marble was unusually quiet, but handy for grabbing a table near the bar. As I awaited the arrival of Archimedes etc I tried Broughton’s Clipper IPA. This proved disappointing-another example (at 4.2%) of what an IPA shouldn’t be. It did have some bitterness, but overall it was watery and not a good illustration of the style. Much better was the Durham Magus-bursting with zesty hops and which went down quicker than the Bank of England’s lending rate. I stuck to that until we moved onto the Angel.
Here there was a new Dunham Massey beer for me. Milk Stout had a lovely rich black texture and certainly had the sweetness I associate with this style. Unfortunately, it’s one of those where one is probably enough, so we headed back to Bury. The Trackside had a mixed bag on-Boggart, Leyden etc but nothing too exciting, so we decided to bow out with cider. We were in for a shock. Thatchers Cheddar Valley is no more.
Dean has replaced with Bristol Port. This isn’t bad, being full of apples on the nose, but is no substitute for Cheddar Valley. CV is a classic, having taken drinkers up and down the land by surprise with its deceptive taste. Who can forget Eddie losing control of his legs and having to be manhandled into a taxi after a night’s imbibing? Or Don Ricardo sleeping in Wetherspoons doorway after drinking everyone’s dregs. It feels like a part of our heritage has gone-where’s the National Trust when you need them?