Having made a slow start to the JDW festival-Bury had had all of two on and when they went, that was it, Manchester seemed a good place to try and make up some ground. First stop was the cavernous Moon Under Water on Deansgate. Hook Norton Jackpot was pleasant enough, if unexciting. You got the distinct feeling that Hook Norton hadn’t strayed too far from their roots with this one and indeed the recipe dates from 1955.
Much more exotic was Yukon Lead Dog Ale. This Canadian inspired beer really didn’t do it for us. Apparently it’s had 6 types of malt thrown into the mix and that, possibly combined with the lack of experience of working with real ale, produced a completely unbalanced mish-mash of a beer. Much better was Barons Bush Berry Porter which was rich in flavour with a light, silky, mouthfeel and an interesting savoury finish. I couldn’t detect any chocolate in Adnams Gunhill but there was certainly no mistaking the spices in this 4% ruby Bitter.
The Waterhouse offered a couple more up for us to try. I didn’t think the Saaz hops did enough to offset the Sinerbrychoff Porter’s other flavours, so was disappointed by it. Punters are raving about the Flying Dutchman Wit Bier and it’s a fair example of the style, if not the best I’ve ever had. Surprisingly decent was Everards (a very average brewer) Tiger Triple Gold. It hid its 5% vol quite well with a spicy mouthfeel but was let down by a sweet finish.
We expected the Paramount to have the best choice of festival beers and it duly delivered with an excellent selection. We tried the chestnut hued Rymney Export which was quite quaffable for a 5%. Even better was Roosters Ale and Spicy, with just a hint of coriander to complement the light, dry finish. The best came last though, with Cairngorm Howler. The Cascade and Willamette hops really come through to the fore here, perfectly balancing out any initial smoothness to deliver a very moreish beer.
The beer was kicking in now and a change of scenery was needed. The Bank failed to tempt us with any of its offerings and the Unicorn was closed for a private function. Hence we soon found ourselves sat at the bar in the Castle admiring the new black pumpclip for Old Stockport. And the beer wasn’t bad either. Out of curiosity we looked in at the Northern. We resisted the £3.20 Black Sheep and judging by the fact that there wasn’t a soul in the place, so had everyone else.
A small diversion had us on Landlord in the English Lounge followed by a private tour of their function room and a visit to the roof terrace. The Angel is normally closed on Sundays but was open for St George’s Day and had a number of themed events going on. Although we had the very last of the Elsie Mo, it was still in good nick.
Then there was just time for a nightcap or two in the Marble. Food had come into our thoughts but it was far too late for them to be serving any, so we had to settle for Roosters Special instead. A steady stagger then got us back to Victoria and the heady delights of Bury. Being civilised folk we figured if we got a march on we could still make it in time for a sit down ruby at the Jewel in the Crown. And it passed the tricky test of serving quality food just before closing time. A satisfying end to a good little tour.