Showing posts from November, 2009

Way Out West

Radcliffe is a suburb of Bury that borders the foreign lands of Bolton. Despite being only 2.5 miles from Bury, Radcliffe has a reputation as a strange place where the locals still worship the Norse gods and speak archaic languages. It’s the birthplace of Danny Boyle who embodies the dream of the some 34,000 residents who still live there: escape at any cost.

It’s also home to a number of pubs of dubious reputation, but which need documenting if the mapping of all of Bury’s pubs is to be complete. So, first stop was the Unicorn, the last pub within Radcliffe’s boundary. This proved a pleasant surprise with the pub advertising cask ales and delivering a cool, well kept pint of Hobgoblin, despite it being the first of the day.

It all went downhill from there, with the Turf, the Royal Oak, the Lord Raglan and the Flying Flute (the Horse Shoe as was) all delivering a cask free message in varying degrees of tattiness. The Colliers was particularly scruffy and, frankly, looked in need of fum…


Saturday saw us take a little tour of York, exactly one year after our last visit. This time, Eddie, the eager, legal beagle was under strict orders to keep his walking pace to sub warp out of respect for the elderlies in our group. Mind you, when the rain started coming down, there was no time for dawdling. Now everyone knows solicitors bring bad luck, but Eddie is actually known to the people of Eboracum as the “Rainmaker”, such is his habit of bringing bad weather to the city.

As per last time, the Rook & Gaskill and the Waggon & Horses were good, albeit quiet due to their location at the outskirts of the city and it being early afternoon. Not unexpectedly the nearer the Minster, the busier the pubs get and we were lucky to get a table in the Guy Fawkes. This is a historic inn and whether or not it really is the birthplace of Guy Fawkes, it certainly has a lot of atmosphere and a very promising menu.

Another interesting diversion was Pivo. This bills itself as a “world pub” …

Bury Beer Festival

Bury Beer Festival took central stage at the Met over the weekend with its expanded format proving popular amongst drinkers and music lovers alike. Certainly the inclusion of the downstairs bar area into the festival was very welcome as it vastly increased the amount of seating available.

A quick head count made it some 77 beers for local imbibers to choose from. The hall was split along the lines of local and non-local beers. Bury’s very own Leyden took up the back bar-very convenient for drinkers wishing to ignore their wares. Much more palatable were the extensive offerings from Outstanding, including the rarely seen White; a cloudy wheat beer full of lemon and earthy spiciness. Local celebrity Joe Stalin was spotted enjoying a pint (or two) of this as he lectured on the Second Congress of Soviets.

Some familiar names delivered the goods beer wise: Marble, Mallinsons, Elland were very good, but Brewdog proved to be my favourite. Their 5% Sam Saint was an extremely (too much for som…

This Is The Modern World

Now I’m all for modernity, but some things are just wrong. And urinals with swirling, changing, colours are one of them. I’ve tried, but I’m not warming to them. The scene of this affront to human decency? Barca, a trendy bar in the Castlefield basin of Manchester. Famously once owned by Mick Hucknall, it has recently returned to the cask beer fold and so is now back on the real ale map of Manchester.

Together with the nearby Dukes 92 (3 casks on), it offers a rare opportunity to sup a pint in or out (luckily it never rains in Mncr) surrounded by young, posh, totty. What more could a man ask for? Or, indeed, let’s not be sexist, any self respecting lipstick lesbian.

Now obviously this pleasure doesn’t come without a price. You can expect to pay around £3 or more for your indulgence. And for those prices, you don’t expect to be overwhelmed by some LSD 60s’ vision. Not when you’re having a pee, anyway.

Picture the scene-you’ve had a few beers, you enter (a very clean, nicely tiled) dimly…

George Slays The Dragon

Or nearly, anyway. For it seems that a modern George, in the shape of Cobe Consulting, is set to slay a local dragon. In this case, the Dragon pub on Parr Lane. But local residents are hoping this particular George falls on his sword and forgets about any development plans for the now derelict pub.

The Dragon is/was an ordinary pub. Nothing to mark it out from the crowd: no award winning food, no great selection of ale, no outstanding historical features. But it did minister to local needs and its loss is confirmation of a worrying trend. That, just as the Amazon is facing deforestation, we are facing depublication of densely populated areas-the traditional heartland of the public house.

Cobe’s exciting plans for the Dragon; namely a Co-op with apartments (flats to me and thee) are proving as welcome as a fart in a spacesuit. Apart from being daft and unnecessary-there is a row of shops literally next door, the residents objections are based on sound practical issues such as parking. …

Send The Buggers Back

Confirmation comes today that Scottish & Newcastle are going to waste time and money and, even worse, piss me off by introducing new glassware emblazed with units of alcohol. And not just a few, but four million of the buggers by 2010. And then they intend to roll out the concept to other brands. Lovely.

Without revisiting the farce surrounding the flawed concept of units, anyone can see this for what is it: a shameless act of appeasement to the anti-alcohol lobby. Unfortunately, no one seems to have told Mark Given, S&N UK brands director, that appeasement seldom works. The enemy merely scents blood. His lame excuse is however worth printing for the comedy factor alone: “Foster’s has long been at the forefront of dispense innovation and we wanted to create a glass to complement the brand’s unrivalled draught credentials.”

Now my advice is to steal or smash these insidious vessels of the devil. Then S&N may get the message. However, those of you wishing to take the Gandhi op…

A Nut By Any Other Name

Professor David Nutt certainly likes controversy-he’s courted much of it lately and won many admirers. Some however looked beyond the initial rumpus and questioned his underlying motives. Was he an innocent victim of politicking or, as the Pub Curmudgeon would have it: “In the final analysis, Nutt is not a hero of rationality and free speech, he is just, at heart, another Righteous bansturbator”.

Well it appears he has nailed his colours to the mast and he is indeed nuttier than a bowl of Swiss Muesli. In interviews today he reiterates his belief that alcohol should be a controlled substance, saying “This is not a stunt. I mean it. Alcohol will kill your kids not Ecstasy”. Failing that he would like to see the price of alcohol doubled, if not tripled. However, he claims not to be a puritan having enjoyed the odd booze binge and even dabbled with the odd drug or two when he was younger. So that just makes him a hypocrite then.

Prof Nutt should have stuck to his Bunsen burners and kept ou…

Reach For The Sky (But Not The Vodka)

And now for something completely different-a tale of woe taken from my Law and Disorder blog.

A 47 year old mother was arrested and charged with supplying a minor with alcohol after asking her teenage daughter to help her shop for a cocktail party. Petite Sue Savage asked daughter Tara, 15, to reach up and fetch £10 of vodka and mixers down from a high shelf at their local Co-Op. A seemingly reasonable request, as not only could she not reach, she was doubly handicapped by wearing an ankle brace. Whilst Tara on the other hand is an impressive 6ft 3in, so has no such problems.

The trouble began when she tried to pay for the items and a supervisor appeared and warned her that they suspected her of supplying booze to a minor. After tiring of explaining herself and not wishing to make a scene, Sue left without the alcohol. However, she returned later and (rightly I feel) insisted on purchasing the bottles, despite the manager now warning her that she was breaking the law.

Being an innocent …

Bury Beer Festival

Good news for local drunks, I mean ale aficionados, with the confirmation that Bury Beer Festival will be going ahead after all. As usual the venue will be Bury Met on the 20th/21st November with opening hours of 12-11 on both days and an entry fee of £4. As there is no Camra involvement this year, the format will be somewhat different, with there being an emphasis on live music throughout both days. Beer wise, local brewers will be peddling their wares, so expect to see the likes of Moorhouses, Thwaites, Phoenix etc. Not forgetting, of course, Bury’s very own Outstanding Brewery. Be there or be somewhere else...

Through The Barricades (Or The Designated Alcohol Zone)

Interesting news today with the report that Oldham (yes, them again) council are planning to “get tough” with supermarkets selling cheap grog. They’ve written to 17 stores warning of new trading conditions that they may apply if the store sells alcohol for less than 50p a unit. These primarily focus on having an in-store designated alcohol zone with a clear “gateway” to the zone and various conditions liable to the zone, such as having to provide a security officer for the zone and a ban on promotions outside of the zone.

Many of these conditions frankly sound like nonsense: There will be a limit on the size of promotional material advertising cheap drink-maximum 20cm x 10cm and a requirement to display one of five responsible drinking messages!
Of course this follows hot on the heels of their plans to impose similar conditions on town centre pubs and clubs. But hold on, you might say, didn’t most of those conditions fail at the first hurdle? Yes, as well these might if the likes of Te…