Saturday saw a posse of Rochdale, Oldham and Bury CAMRA members ride over the border into North Manchester. Salford to be precise as they paid an official visit to the First Chop Brewing Arm. Owner Rik Garner was on hand for the full guided brewery tour and to serve the occasional pint. It’s hard to see past HOP when it’s on form but AVA certainly ran it a close second. Pictured is cider-loving Mike Robinson presenting Rik with the ROB award for 2014 Cider Pub of the Year for the First Chop in Ramsbottom. Yes, it sells a good range of cider as well as some cracking beers.
Now where to go to after a brewery tour? The pub, obviously. So it was round to the New Oxford in Bexley Square for an alcohol top up. Unfortunately they had just had an unexpected large party in and the beer board was looking a little bare. So after a quick one, we headed for the Salford Arms and settled in there. Tom, the gaffer here, is really enthusiastic about his beers and really gives the place a welcoming vibe.
After seeing off Stopwatch Sid and his assistant back on the train to leafy Greenfield; it was a case of what to do next? The pub, obviously. Well it was still daylight after all. With Blackjack having one of their soirees at the brewery, it would have been rude not to go. And very nice it was too. For those not in the know, Rob’s little outfit is at the bottom of Gould Street (that’s the one by the Marble Arch) but is only open, as yet, on certain weekends. The Pokies went down well but Arbor Beech Blonde stole it for me here.
The crowd was now thinning and decisions had to be made. What to do next? The pub, obviously. Well it was still daylight. Just. So up to the Marble Arch we went to enjoy some Summer. Very sensibly some people were dining before setting off home. But Sensible isn’t my middle name (it’s Wolfgang) so there was one more stop for a nightcap. Port Street Beer House. Well it is IPA week. A very refreshing Magic Rock High Wire was quickly followed by Toccalmatto’s sublime wonder that is Zona Cesarini. Now I’m sure this was followed by something equally awesome, but it’s all a bit hazy after that. I did get home safely, though, as I distinctly recall the arrival of my super-sized double garlic, jalapeno special. A grand end to a grand day.