This was going to be a tale of just one night’s adventure into the Twilight Zone. But, with a repeat performance on Saturday, the scene was set for a direct comparison of differing nights. It all started last Wednesday; the CAMRA lads were getting restless. There is, after all, only so much CAMRA related stuff you can discuss: where is the best place to get your beard trimmed, who has the best sandals, that kind of thing.
Less talk, more action was the plea. What about a stroll to the land where beer flows down the streets and the CAMRA chairman spends more time in Belgium than Tintin. Yes, we are of course referring to Stockport. Easily accessible by train, bus, unicycle or hovercraft, it’s got a very strong run of pubs on the Wellington Road North side of town.
Our first stop-the Hope-was of particular interest as it was our first visit since it had reopened as a brewpub. And very impressive it is, too, with both Wednesday and Saturday parties giving it the seal of approval. A smart, traditional layout gives us a vault on the left and a lounge to the right. Of course, beer is key and there is no shortage here. Their own Fool Hardy ales are not your average run-of-the-mill brewpub stuff and there are some good guests as well.
The next stop, the Railway, is another traditionally laid out pub that has been very dependable in recent times. Sadly, this was not the case on these visits. Wednesday saw quite a few punters in playing darts etc (they like their pub games in Stockport) but the beer situation wasn’t looking so good. Two beers ran out before they could be poured, leaving one beer that was vinegar and a watery pint of Holts. Saturday saw tumbleweeds blowing through the place and, bearing in mind Wednesday’s performance, a beer choice that didn’t entice us to risk any of them.
Beer choice and quality are seemingly never an issue in the Magnet; this famous free house offers some 13 beers for your delectation. Wednesday saw Titanic Iceberg and the mighty Quantum Citra Centennial IPA (8.1%) hit the spot. Saturday saw an even better line up with Ossett White Rabbit for starters and some sublime, hoptastic Brodies beers for the main course.
Next up: a new one on the Wellington Road North circuit. I can’t recall going in the George before, so it must have been down and out for awhile. However, that’s all changed now. A large, open-plan, interior that caters for sports viewing is possibly not for the purists. But the beer range is something rather special. A near complete line-up of Timothy Taylor beers is unheard of this side of Yorkshire and the bar staff were very friendly. Beer quality was good and with Boltmaker at £2, we had no complaints.
That just left the Pineapple and the Crown. The Pineapple, an excellent Robinsons house, was very busy with darts-playing ladies who warned us off our proposed detour to the Fairway as, according to them, beer choice was somewhat pedestrian. The Crown on Heaton Lane really should need no introduction. But for those of you too lazy to Google, suffice it to say that this long -established free house is another must visit for anyone contemplating a Stockport swagger. Saturday night saw the added attraction of some ukulele playing which proved very popular. Or was that just the Oakham Citra taking effect?