Somewhere Over The Rainbow

Talking of the eager legal one, it was at his suggestion that we enjoyed a post work shandy. Seems he has secured the entire front row for the forthcoming Nolans comeback tour and was keen to celebrate. He fancied exploring central Bury as it (can be) the place to be. I was a little wary after being stung the night before when the WHB and I ended up on a session of Welsh whisky in the local Spoons. However, fortune favours the brave. Or so they say.

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.


Tandleman said…
I've been saying the Trackside has warm beer for years. Glad you've recognised it. The general point of warm beer in Manchester is worrying. I experienced it with the Beer Nut last week. It just shouldn't be. The Smithfield is seemingly in a bit of a rut at the moment with, as you say, its obvious faults rarely mentioned by some who should know better. And poor Mallinson's just horrifies.

As for JDW tokens, you'll have the insane troll on your back for that.
neil said…
The Smithfield is indeed poor these days.Full of mediocre beer served far too warm.Tickers love it and most camra members don't set foot in mncr so don't know any better.
lee said…
Have to agree the Smithy isn't what is was under Jenny.They may put festivals on for beer geeks but can't seem to get the basics right.
Tyson said…
The Trackside, lacking a proper cellar, has an understandable, if not acceptable excuse for warm beer. The Smithfield and the like in Manchester just smacks of complacency.

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