To Dunham Massey & Beyond

Saturday held in store a trip to Dunham Massey Brewery and the opportunity to present them with an award for winning Beer of the Festival at Bury in 2008. To present such a prestigious honour, Joe Stalin was making a rare appearance on a coach trip. Although not leaving till 1050, it prompted an early (too early?) 0930 Wetherspoons start in the Art.

DMB is based in a converted barn just behind Big Tree (and there is indeed a big tree) Farm in Dunham Massey and is run by John Costello. John used to work for Tetley Walker’s in Warrington and is certainly very passionate about the subject of beer. He has won many awards for Chocolate Cherry Mild (including Bury 2008), but his beers have their critics as well as their fans.

There were two beers on the brewery bar: Little Bollington Bitter and the aforementioned Chocolate Cherry Mild. LBB is a light, old fashioned, Bitter apparently (Ron Pattinson alert), based on the recipe for Boddingtons in the 1930s. It proved easy drinking, if unremarkable, but unfortunately ran out after two pints. Thus leaving only the CCM as a drinking option. This was, frankly, very poor. A strong bubblegum aroma led into a sickly fruit sweetener type taste that was nothing like the CCM of old. Too sickly for some, but others, having paid their money, girdled their loins and carried on.

A refreshing walk through the park brought us to our lunch stop-the Swan with Two Nicks. I used to be a regular here at one time, so was interested to note the changes. Local beer is now served in the form of several Dunham Massey brews along with Landlord, Coach House and Abbot. The food portions are still hearty and the chunky chips were great, but I have to mark the fish down a notch for having a humongous bone in it.

Lunch was considerably enlivened by two escapees from a neighbouring CAMRA branch. They had us spellbound with tales of murky practices and dodgy doings at their GBG selection meeting. It was better than a John le Carre novel.

Next stop was the Jolly Thresher at Agden. This is another one I hadn’t been to for awhile. It’s a modernised Hydes tied house and had three well kept ales on the bar. It’s also got impressive outdoor drinking credentials with patio decking, a smokers’ gazebo and a large garden/sports area.

Yet another old friend was the Barn Owl at Agden Wharf. This serves three of the Marstons range and several guest beers. Pictish, Storm and Marstons Bitter were all tried and approved. The Owl’s canal side location also makes it ideal for narrowboat (never, ever, call them barges) and wildlife spotting.

The finale was the find of the day. The Bellhouse Club at Grappenhall Community Centre is a private members club that had several real ales on and not the usual suspects either. Crucially they were also showing football on the big screen, although inexplicably not everyone in our party seemed interested in watching it. Salopian Aztec was the pick of the bunch beer wise.

Safely back in Bury, we called in the Trackside for a nightcap or two. The board was looking depleted-they’re closing for a few days and were letting the beers run out, but unusually there were a few gems to be had. The Slaters wasn’t bad and Otley O-garden, their tasty take on a certain wheat beer, was very good.

I was just going to make my contented way home when fate intervened in the form of Eddie, the eager, legal beagle. Apparently a new EU directive stated that I had to stay in the Trackside with him and watch the beers go one by one. Luckily our tipple-Phoenix Shamrock, being fresh on, lasted until it was the sole beer remaining. Eventually, taking the hint of chairs being stacked beside us, we meandered off into British Summer Time.


Richard said…
Bah! I was invited on this but couldn't make it. Sounds like the beers were average at best though - my mate who lives round there doesn't rate them at all.
Anonymous said…
The interesting moment

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