About Me

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Manchester, United Kingdom
Tyson is a beer hound and cheese addict living in the beery metropolis paradise known as Manchester
If the people are buying tears, I'll be rich someday, Ma

Thursday, 26 August 2010

Changing Of The Guards

Congratulation to the latest pub saved from closure by the locals buying it. The Old Thirteenth Cheshire Astley Volunteer Rifleman Corps Inn has been purchased from Enterprise Inns for £110,000.

The pub, in Stalybridge, is famous for having the longest pub name in Britain and for once having been visited by Tyson the Beerhound. Ok, several pubs can lay claim to the second of those statements, but it’s still heartening news.

When I visited it served Wilsons Mild & Bitter and there was a certain buzz about this 1857 Inn. Seems some things haven't changed that much. As Rob Tonge, one of the quartet of new owners, put it: Pubs are shut down and boarded up every day. But we’ve been drinking here for years and would have been devastated had it gone to the wall”.

Let’s all drink to their success.

Tuesday, 24 August 2010

I'd Like To Teach The World To Sing Drink

I was excited to read the headline “Portsmouth pubs asked to sponsor kids on alcohol course.” It consists of ten hours training with an exam to follow. At last, I thought, kids will be getting a proper education. No more RE or Woodwork for them.

I envisaged the future generation of drinkers learning the difference between Milds, Bitters, Porters and Stouts. Not to mention transgender-bending Mid-Atlantic Pale Ales. Sadly not. Apparently it’s an alcohol awareness scheme designed to teach youngsters the impact of alcohol on their health, career and social life.

All very worthy, but I prefer my idea.

Monday, 23 August 2010

Dirty Old Town

Some people get the glamour assignments: Rome. Paris. Madrid. Some people get Salford, Eccles & Patricroft. Such was my fate as I was invited to keep the Old Contemptibles company on their peregrination of some of Manchester’s fruitier outposts.

First stop was the Queens Arms in Patricroft. Known locally as the Top House due to its position at the top of the hill next to Patricroft station, it dates back to 1828 and can claim to be Britain's first railway pub, as it was built in the specific hope of catching the passing trade on the new Manchester to Liverpool rail line

Originally called the Patricroft Tavern when it opened, the name was changed following a visit to Salford by Queen Victoria in 1851. It’s currently the holder of the local CAMRA branch’s Traditional Pub of the Year Award and it’s not hard to see why. It’s beautifully maintained by long time licensees Lynn and Chris Benson.

Uncle Albert felt immediately at home in the cosy Victorian rooms and was in danger of becoming mistaken for a historical artefact himself. A Boddingtons house for many years, it still sells the (rarely seen now) cask version brewed by Hydes.

A little stroll took us to the Stanley Arms on Liverpool Road. This is a small Holts pub that is on CAMRA’s National Inventory. Again local history was very much in evidence, not least in the Lancashire range in the back room.

Another National Inventory delight beckoned with the Lamb in Eccles proper. This is an imposing Edwardian boozer with a vault, two lounges and (not many of these nowadays) a billiards room. The Holts Mild was some of the best I’ve had for many a year as well.

It was time to get back to Manchester. A little free advice here-Eccles rail station is a little basic and you may have to improvise on discovering the toilet closed. Or risk getting on the train and discovering the onboard facilities are out of action.

Back at Victoria it was a short hop to the Dutton on Dutton Street. This tucked away Hydes boozer sells just their Bitter but it was in good condition and if you ask nicely they will tell you what the blowlamps are for.

The Star on Back (not Bob as someone said) Hope Street in Salford has become something of a celebrity since the locals bought it. It was a great local when Robinsons had it, but now it’s going from strength to strength. We sat outside and sampled some of the house beer brewed by Bazens.

Our last stop in Salford was the Racecourse Hotel in Lower Kersal. This is a part of town where the muggers refuse to work alone and you are more likely to get kneecapped than find a decent pub. However, the Racecourse is the exception to that premise.

Built in 1930 by Salford brewers Grove & Whitnall to fund demand by the nearby racecourse (which closed in 1963) it’s an impressive affair. Revolving doors and a giant central bar help to impart the grandness of days long gone by. Cask ale is available in the form of Oakwell Barnsley Bitter.

Last stop was the Wellington in Shambles Square, close to Victoria station. It really pulled the proverbial rabbit out with the appearance of St Austell’s Proper Job. This is simply one of the best cask ales currently available. At 4.5% it crackles with grapefruit and pine resin, whilst Chinook, Cascade and Willamette leave hopheads begging for more. As always with this, one is never enough. Or two...

Tuesday, 17 August 2010

Everybody's At It

In the words of the great poet Lily Allen, everyone’s are all at it now. First we had the pubs and cafes attempting to denigrate the character of the honest-to-goodness ploughman’s. Now even the humble cheese & tomato sarnie isn’t safe. Hang your heads in shame M&S.

Now I don’t mind that they put it in a roll and call it something else. Or even that they sell it at an inflated price. But whose bright idea was it to cover it with mayo? Never mind, thinks I, there is always the “traditional” West Country Ploughman’s. Made with lovely West Country cheese, lovely West Country chutney...and mayonnaise!

This ConDem government really has got a lot to answer for. Not only are they threatening to crush our drinking rights, but they are now after our sandwiches. Come back Gordon Brown. Always remember, if I wanted mayonnaise. I would have been born French.

Get it sorted.
*Shown for contrast value. The bastardised M&S abomination and the cheaper, much better, Greggs alternative.

Please Don't Pass Me By (A Disgrace)

Automatic is Bury’s premier bar. Note, I say bar and not restaurant-all will become clear later. Now some beer bloggers struggle to tell the difference between a pub and a bar and write lengthy discourses on the subject. I have no such problem: if there is no bar rail to tie your whippet to and your feet don’t stick to the carpet, it’s plainly a bar.

So on that basis, Automatic is clearly a bar. It’s a bar that does food and does well out of it, having a prime location on Market Street. However, obviously, it does have plenty of customers who just go in for a drink, particularly at weekends when the music decibel gets cranked up.

A while ago it raised its game vis a via beer range and put on a couple of casks. Thereby attracting a different clientele and further widening its customer base. The local CAMRA branch were impressed and duly nominated it for inclusion in the 2011 GBG. This despite concerns that there was a potential problem with it-apart from possible throughput and that is their attitude to non-diners.

At weekends, if they had (or were expecting) a lot of diners, they would refuse seats to people who simply wanted a drink. I personally find this against the spirit of the GBG, but there aren’t any rules against it. It was rumoured that this policy was spreading to weekdays and having experienced it firsthand, I can confirm this.

A weekday evening at 2030 hours and the joint was just over half full. A quick check revealed Itchen Valley on the pumps. Pints of said beer were duly procured. However, our plans to sit amongst the glitterati and well-heeled lasses of Bury were scuppered when we told that seating was only available to diners. And there was a sign up to reinforce the fact.

Now this seems daft to me. There were plenty of tables free and any rush of diners, if they were going to have one, was over. Most diners were actually finishing up, as typified by Joe Stalin (radiant in his gold Lurex suit) who was on his way to do the fandango. So an offer for drinkers to stand at the bar or sit isolated on the sofa at the back is unnecessary and not likely to endear the place to me.

Get it sorted.

Thursday, 12 August 2010

Going, Going, Gone?

The Duke of Clarence (AKA the “Clarey”) on Silver St is once more closed and boarded. Enterprise Inns were reduced to a “Peaceable Re-Entry” in order to try and reclaim some of the monies owed by their light-of-foot tenant.

Seems apart from not paying his rent, he wasn’t paying any other bills, either. Not surprising as, in his short tenure, the pub was very seldom open. Well to the public anyway. He could, however, be often glimpsed through the open window playing cards with his mates or hosting a private drinking session.

On the face of it, it seems a nice change for someone to screw the might Enterprise Inns. But I doubt Ted Tuppen (CBE, don’t you know) will lose any sleep over it. And it’s always a shame to see a town centre pub down on its uppers. Despite the retail boom in the area, this could well be the last hurrah for the DOC.

Monday, 9 August 2010

Travelin' Band

Congratulations to Peter Hill and his merry band of Black Country Ale Tairsters. Last Friday, at the Water Mill in Kidderminster, they reached the milestone of 15,000 on their pub tour of England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland.

They have been spending all their free time touring the hostelries of the UK since 1984. In that time, they have travelled some 250,000 miles, visited every pub in 11 counties and sunk some 92,000 pints. Apparently their favourite watering holes are the Powis Arms in Welshpool and The Highwayman in Sourton, Devon.

This is some achievement, but Mr Hill may have put his finger on the secret of their success: “None of us are married, which is a good job, because I don't think wives would be too happy playing second fiddle to pubs and beer."

I suspect he may be right.

FABPOW: Ceilidh & Ravioli

It’s the age-old problem. You stagger in after a session and fancy a late night feast. But what to do? You can’t get a decent pizza delivered at 3am and you can’t be bothered (i.e. too drunk) to do anything very elaborate.

Never fear: you have your ravioli saved for just such an emergency. Just heat the sauce up and bedtime snack here you come. Only one problem-you realise you haven’t got any sauce. Never fear: it’s time for a bit of FABPOW. That’s food and beer matching to you and me.

In this case it was Ceilidh, kindly donated by William Bros. This is a 4.7% lager that when served cold and crisp is easy-going with a sweet malt aftertaste. Once warmed up, unfortunately, the malt comes to the fore too much for my liking and you don’t get the promised citrus notes.

However, where it does come into its own is as Bolognese sauce substitute. Pour it over pumpkin ravioli and you have an interesting combination of flavours-the sweet malt seemed to really bring out the delicate pumpkin flavour. It was a delicious mix of sweet and spiciness.  Then again, I could just have been pissed.