Our first stop-the Trackside-immediately threw up a problem. The board didn’t look particularly appealing and the first (and last) drink in a session is crucial. Among the offerings were a dark Bowland, a honey beer and two undrinkable efforts by Bazens. We settled for Marstons Ashes Ale which tasted like, er, Marstons. The biggest problem was the temperature-they don’t have a conventional cellar and lacking cooling facilities, the beer tends to be on the warm side. Even more so during the summer.
A wander over to the Robert Peel enabled Eddie to slice off some of his Spoons tokens, the only problem being choice. Or rather lack of it. Naturally yesterday’s excellent George Wright Pure Blonde had gone. There was a rather less than seasonal treacle stout or Allgates Hair of the Dog. This turned out to be dark with some liquorice fruit and a slightly bitter finish.
The new kid on the block-Malt-is still finding its feet and has stopped opening Mon-Tues and has rationalised its beer range. However, it was still disappointing to find it only had Landlord on. An expedition into Manchester seemed the solution to our woes.
First stop was the Waterhouse and those vouchers again. Here we came across our old friend Storr which was in good condition. The Athenaeum did have three on, although a rather less than exciting range of John Smiths, Bombardier and Deuchars. The Paramount failed to tickle our taste buds, so we marched on to the Pevril for some guaranteed quality Copper Dragon.
Heading back, we called at the Bank. Constantly overlooked by Camra in favour of more traditional venues, it has built up a solid reputation for the quality of its food and drink. And service. As evidenced by barmaid par excellence, Kelly, who despite (or because of?) not being a drinker herself, insisted we sample several drinks, including the ciders.
We eventually settled for the St Austell IPA which packs a lot of flavour into its 3.4% body. An initial spicy fruit flavour gives way to a pleasingly dry finish, which I suspect is down to their use of Willamette hops. Before leaving we decided to try our old friend Hawkshead Gold. This was getting slightly past its best but the staff were happy to give a refund as time precluded another here.
Time for a last drink somewhere. With no beer on at Odd, we found ourselves at the Smithfield. This is much feted by the local Camra lot, who seem oblivious to its faults. It didn’t look too promising but it did have Mallinsons Heatwave on the bar, so we couldn’t go wrong, could we? Unfortunately this turned out to be the first Mallinsons to disappoint. Orange peel seemed to be mixed in with burnt malt. It wasn’t helped by the ridiculously high serving temperature, not welcome at any time but bizarre at post 11pm. Dejectedly we left it on the table and headed for Hunters where Eddie could satisfy his curry lust.