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

Wednesday, 30 July 2008

Smoke Gets in Huns Eyes

Seems the usually efficient Teutonic Knights have come a cropper. The smoking ban in Germany has gone up in, er, smoke, after the German High Court ruled it unlawful. This is a little annoying, I must say, as I was looking forward to some cleaner drinking air on my next visit. The ban, it seems, discriminates against one-roomed venues, as mult-room venues were allowed a smoking room. That seems pretty obvious, and could have had similar repercussions here if proponents of smoking rooms would have had their way. Now the ban will either have to be lifted, or imposed universally. In the meantime, venues of 75 metres or less will be allowed to carry on puffing. Just the sort of place that needs a ban, you would think. Those Krazy Krauts, eh?

Ruby Tuesday

There I was, pondering one of life’s great mysteries-how long exactly should a Long Tail be? Sadly before I could come to any conclusion, my concentration was broken. A message from Eddie, the eager, legal beagle. Could I join him for some rice wine and bento? I agreed, providing we had a drink first.

So it was that we kicked off in the Dogs. Eddie, being a well known weather jinx, ensured that our al fresco experience was brief. Never fear, we were more than comforted by pints of Outlaw Wild Mule, and Phoenix White Monk. Next stop was the Towler and some excellent Golden Pippin. Naturally one pint led to another, and despite my pleas to leave, Eddie forced me to stay. The Manx Minx was soon on the dog and bone. She’d finished ripping innocent teeth out and was expecting Eddie back to polish the gold taps in the bathroom. Like the British in India, we knew it was time to leave, so we tucked into our last drinks.
However, it would have been rude to say bonne nuit without a nightcap, so we popped into the Trackside to quench our thirsts. The best on offer here was Marble Lagonda IPA which, although fine, couldn’t compete with the hop level we’d been sampling all evening. Then there was just time for the traditional (half price) Pizza Pioneer delight before heading for the old homestead.

Sunday, 27 July 2008

Mad Dogs & Englishmen

The weather, for once, was on our side. Trafford & Hulme Camra were coming over to see some of the (many) delights of Bury. The idea has been for some al fresco drinking, but recent experiences had cast a doubt on whether that would be possible. However, Apollo did his thing and, phew, wot a scorcher.

The natural starting point was the Trackside, where the only problem was the snail like service. George Wright Summer Sizzler was good, but a bit on the strong side to kick off with, so I stuck to Acorn Yorkshire Pride for the duration. This 3.7% session bitter was straw coloured and had a pronounced bitter edge. Very good, as Acorn tend to be, I thought. However, Stopwatch Sid found it too one-dimensional and complained it wasn’t well balanced. Exactly why I liked it. Well balanced? Blimey, we’re on a piss up, mate, not wine tasting in Aix-en-Provence.

Shepherding the day trippers onto the bus, we headed, via the scenic route, to the Pack Horse in Affetside. A check yesterday had revealed that, despite rumours to the contrary, this was open and still run by Conrad. A case of Chinese whispers, perhaps? Anyway, we soon settled on the patio decking, soaking up the rays and enjoying a couple of Hydes finest. The Bitter was in particularly good form, being a lot dryer than usual. Also tried was the seasonal, Bells & Whistles, which was fine, if unexceptional.

Next stop was the Hare & Hounds and a shady spot out at the back. Once tried, I stuck to Phoenix White Monk which was fresh on and bone dry moreish. Eventually, those of us left, moved onto the Footballers in Summerseat. Here we took up position in the back garden with its very scenic views of the surrounding countryside. The Hydes Bitter here was good, if not quite up to the Pack Horse standards. I also managed a couple of Taylors Landlord before saying goodbye to Don Ricardo who seemed to have lost the ability to stand. Despite a new speed walking record of 6 minutes, I missed the bus due to an idiot driver seemingly determined to ignore the timetable.

However, plan B kicked in, and I got the bus going the other way. After all they all go past pubs, don’t they? As everyone else was heading home, I got off and sampled some Wainwrights in the Sundial before settling down with Golden Pippin at the Towler. Next thing I know I’m at home eating pizza and watching the goggle box. People are always complaining about late night TV, but personally I found Addicted to Boob Jobs very educational. It was a real eye opener, in every sense.

Saturday, 26 July 2008

Don't Put Your Daughter On The Stage, Mrs Worthington

So, an evening at the theatre. Such an event requires very precise and specific warm up drinking. Mindful of the long day ahead tomorrow, I resisted the chance to start on Old Rosie-that way lies madness. Instead, I sampled some Caledonian Lorimer’s Cask Lager, as recommended by Tandleman. Now TM has obviously been reading some tasting notes as he informs us that it’s made with Strisselspalt hops-a new one on me as well. However, my readers being of a different sophistication are interested in more prosaic information. Basically, is it shite or not? The answer being, no. It’s a well balanced pint with the wheat and toasted malt combining to give a smooth mouth feel.

Also tried was Marstons Old Empire. This 5.7% is an excellent replica of a traditional IPA. Or, previously noted, what we expect from a “traditional” IPA. Certainly, with Marstons having that love-it, or hate-it Burton Snatch flavour, this is the best they produce. The stronger alcohol content seems to suit their style of brewing, resulting in lots of juicy malt and a spicy aftertaste. Time to get near the action, so a strategic withdrawal to the bar was in order. This was Pimms themed, so it seemed rude to drink anything else. Not that they really had anything else worth drinking. Don’t they realise we artistic types require quality imbibing sustenance?

The play being good, but as is the way with these things, not short, thank God for the hip flask I say. Post curtain drinks consisted of some excellent Marble JP Best and Janine’s One, before finally giving in to the clarion call of cider.

Friday, 25 July 2008

How The Other Half Lives

According to the trade press, 39 out of 41 premises in Kensington & Chelsea tested positive for traces of cocaine. What it didn't say was that when the same test was done in Bury, 40 out of 41 tested positive for black pudding and tripe.

Going Going Gone?

All of a sudden Bury seems to be experiencing the pub crisis that is sweeping Britain. The number of pubs, and we’re talking decent boozers here, that are closed and boarded is quite worrying. Of course, as everywhere, we’ve actually been haemorrhaging for years, but losses have been at a steady drip-drip rate. And with the odd new opening, and some of the old ones getting a second chance, it’s been easy to ignore the problem. Time was when you just waited for a new tenant to move in and see what changes that brought. Not anymore. Now you have to seriously wonder if they are ever coming back into use.
A quick look round illustrates the point. Up in Ramsbottom, you’ve got the Good Samaritan. Once a thriving local, its closure has to be ascribed to the mismanagement of Enterprise Inns. Seems they’re not actually interested in running pubs anymore. If that’s the case, then they should get off the pot. The longer it remains closed, the less chance there is of it coming back into use. It’s already a miracle that it’s not been vandalised. Realistically, thinking of the car park space, you have to think that ultimately it’s destined for more houses.

Further up, right on the main road, and part of the infamous “Rammy Mile” is the Old Dun Horse. A large Thwaites pub, it always had a reputation for attracting hardcore dickheads. Always did a good trade, though. It’s got a place in history, as well, hosting the annual Old English Gamecock Show on New Year’s Day. This tradition dates back to 1843 and is believed to be the oldest such show in the world. Interestingly, this actually replaced an even older traditional event-cock fighting, but I digress. Recently Thwaites spent not an insubstantial sum bringing it up to scratch and, amazingly, reintroduced cask ale. However, now there’s metal plates on all the doors and windows-apparently the licence has gone and it’s rumoured to be on its way to becoming a nursery.

Down in Whitefield, I’m informed that the poor old Albert has already met its nemesis, and is now just a pile of rubble. One of your basic community locals, the Albert was mainly famous for (long ago) its raunchy strippers and for being keg as long as anyone can remember. Still, one gone is one lost forever beyond the redemption of a return to cask. Not even your country dining pub is safe, it would appear. The Shoulder of Mutton in Holcombe village is deserted and in a state of disrepair. The villains once again: Enterprise Inns. These modern Sheriffs of Nottingham are offering it on a 3 year lease. Nothing wrong with that until you discover it needs £25000 spending on the roof. No wonder no one is biting their hand off. Meanwhile the rain pours in and its future looks bleak.

Even long standing giants of the Bury pub scene seem to be succumbing. The mighty Pack Horse at Affetside has been closed and boarded for some time now. This one we can’t lay at the door of the pubcos, however, as it's alleged that the long serving licensee has simply done a runner. Still, not good news. I’m hoping as this is a Hydes tied house, that the problem is only temporary. However, it’s been closed longer than I would have expected, so I will be watching that one very closely.

At this rate I may need to take up home brewing.

Can't Stand Up For Falling Down

Went to my local brewery. Got pissed. Staggered home.

Thursday, 24 July 2008

If You Can't Beat Them

New licensee Belal Hussain has got an interesting take on the old supermarket v pub battle. The former trainee accountant must have thought if the supermarkets can sell shite in bulk, cheap, why can’t a pub? Hence his strategy at the Marksman in West Bromwich. Apparently he’s selling the likes of John Smiths, Strongbow, Carlsberg etc at 89p a pint. His profit margin is only 2p a pint, but he is selling 3000 pints a day. To keep the peelers happy, he’s limiting it to four pints a customer. His stated aim is to “bring the pub back to the people.” Either that or he just likes keeping tight fisted scrotes happy.

These Boots Are Made For Walking

A bright, dry, summer’s evening was the perfect excuse for some al fresco action. First port of call was the Sundial for some Wainwrights. The recent renovation added an extensive, fenced-in, back patio drinking area and an unusual, completely covered, side drinking zone. A short stroll up to the Towler brought some al fresco Golden Pippin. A bench in the car park isn’t the most scenic of locations but al fresco is still al fresco. Obviously, others shared my sentiment, as all the seats at the side, and the back, of the pub were taken. However, judging by the unmistakable odour of wacky-baccy, some people needed more than Copper Dragon to stimulate their minds.

Time to jump on the bus and hit the Dogs. As usual, an excellent line up here. However, still stinging from my recent encounter with it, Leyden Time & Tide went untried. Instead I made do with the likes of Phoenix Arizona and the even better Phoenix Spotland Gold. The world of real ale can be a small one and, purely by chance, I fell into conversation with someone who had attended the opening night of the Beer House, many moons ago. I also had to contend with an evangelist from Bury Ramblers. They’d just completed a new members 5 mile walk. Which, he was quick to point out, didn’t actually count as a “proper walk.” Apparently, they’d done 11.5 miles yesterday, and that was nearer to what he considered a “proper walk.” As he reached for a membership form, I took a "proper walk"-straight to the bar...

Wednesday, 23 July 2008

Baa-army Behaviour

A 27 year old man has been arrested on suspicion of sexually molesting sheep in London. Apparently not the brightest bulb in the box, he conveniently kept leaving his clothes behind for the boys in blue to find. Now, I know that it’s a bit grim in the big L. What with Bonkers Boris now running the show, pea-soupers, and the like. Not to mention the difficulty of getting a good pint and finding somewhere to serve you after 11pm. But really, is this what cockney sparrows do for fun when not manning their stalls in Albert Square?

Eternal Sunshine Of the Spotless Mind

A slightly odd outing tonight. It all began reasonably enough, with a message from Eddie, the eager, legal beagle. He wanted to discuss the role of the grandparent in Pomeranian society, over a drink or two. Knowing it’s a subject close to his heart, what could I do but agree?

The posse’s first stop in Manchester was the Angel, as visited on Saturday. Phoenix West Coast IPA was fresh on and in superb condition, bursting with pungent hops. So good, in fact, that Don Ricardo had downed his first before we mere mortals had taken the froth off ours. This led to the first of his off-topic ramblings. Having chatted to the very amenable host, naturally we had to delay our exit. Curse these places for serving such good beer. It was nice to see some of the local apartment dwellers popping in for a drink. If it’s to get the success it deserves, then these are the regulars it needs to attract.

Somewhat reluctantly we pushed on to the Marble Arch. Here we were met by a quite amazing beer. Oakham Endless Summer was golden and full of grapefruit hops, as you might expect from this brewery. However, the real shock was its abv. It was only 3.4%. If they can brew a beer to this standard at such a low vol, then why can’t others do it? It really put into perspective that there are a lot of very average beers doing the rounds out there. Of course, that meant we had to have another. Curse these places for serving such good beer...

A quick walk took us to the Smithfield. Here I tried Salopian Matrix which was a blond beer with a biscuity edge. Meanwhile Don Ricardo was going into great detail educating Eddie as to the different sizes of timber. Why, we were never quite sure. Across the road, Bar Fringe was closed, and in darkness, although you could clearly see staff sat around. A pit stop at the Crown & Kettle gave us a Blackdown beer that was obviously a cask version of Hoegaarden. There seems to be a lot of those around at the moment.

Time for some Dizzy Blonde in the Castle before heading to Hunters for a very late tea of rice and three. But, what’s this? Don Ricardo refusing curry! Quick, draw the curtains. Is there a doctor in the house? Refusing curry and then trying to explain to me why beer is like diesel. A surreal ending to a rather good beer evening.

Monday, 21 July 2008

Riding the Crest

An update on the super strength lager situation as highlighted by Tandleman in a recent post. It seems that Carlsberg Special Brew will soon be officially only suitable for wimps. In a move sure to delight the SD, Wells & Young have launched Crest Super Strength. A beer for real men (and women, of course) it weighs in at an impressive 10%. According to the blurb, it’s brewed with the finest German hops and has a unique taste “for those that appreciate a beer of distinction.” Quite. Personally I won’t be touching the stuff. Anyone else thinking of trying it, please don’t. It contains 5 units of alcohol. More than the government’s, very scientific, daily recommendation for rough-tough men, never mind girlies. So don't say I haven't warned you.

Rather worryingly, this was the first press release that I’ve received as a blogger. Either they appreciate my important position in the online community. Or they were targeting me as a potential customer???

Sunday, 20 July 2008

Liquid Lunch at the Marble

Another day of unpredictable weather in Britain’s finest city. Sunshine, rain, sunshine, rain-I began to sense a pattern. Hoping for more consistency on the beer front, we had decided to meet at the newly opened Angel. This was once a famous Manc pub landmark called The Beerhouse. In those glory days it served up to 12 real ales and was nirvana for fledging scoopers. A series of changes meant it fell on hard times and the last incumbents were notorious for crap beer and a very unpleasant pong. It ended up boarded up and seemingly doomed. However, it has been resurrected as a dining establishment under the supervision of a famous local chef.

Renovation is still under way, both in and outside. Indeed, the old signage is still visible over the door. Being on Angel Street, it makes sense to call it “The Angel” and this was, apparently, its original name. Although, that must have been quite some time ago, as I couldn’t find anyone who knew it in that incarnation. The interior is nice and bright and, guess what, no smell. On the bar were two beers. One from Phoenix and one from Dunham Massey. Both were tried and were excellent. Not bad value at £2.50 either.

So far, so good. A look at the Specials Board and we were ready to order. Unfortunately, this is where the wheels came off the wagon. Due to family circumstances there wasn’t any food available. Never mind, we’ll just dine in the Marble Arch. That’s always good, isn’t it? It certainly has had glowing reviews of the new chef. But is it a case of the Emperor’s New Clothes?

First impressions were good. There was a great selection on the bar. So good, in fact, that any idea to move on was washed away with the pouring rain. Phoenix Midsummer Madness, Marble 08’ and Janine’s One were all excellent, with Whim Cascade, perhaps, just shading it as the best. A glance at the menu board revealed a large selection of possible choices. However, on closer inspection these were only available after 5. A much slimmed down lunch menu was now in operation. And a strange selection it was too. Fish & chips only available in the evening? Ok, what about a sandwich? Well the cheese option has disappeared completely: not a sniff of a Ploughman’s, or a simple cheese & tomato.

Usually any decent place would offer a cheese & onion pie option, but the Marble offers a dodgy sounding vegetable pie instead. My scepticism seems well founded as I’ve heard various reports since that this is their worst dish. So, no lunch for me, but how did others fare? Well, the cheese on toast was nice and bubbly, but the steak & ale pie was pretty poor. The top slid off to reveal mostly gravy, leaving the only option of putting the three accompanying potatoes in the mix to try and solidify it. Not a patch on the level of catering I’ve recently experienced in Bury. I did cling on to try the fish & chips, which were served with some excellent monster chips, but I shall be taking my dining custom elsewhere in future.

Back in Bury we staggered into the Trackside and tried Everards Hazy Daze (4.3%) a cloudy wheat beer. This was very much like a Belgium white, with an orangery aroma and a spicy Hoegaarden palate. The only way to follow this up was, of course, with some cider-yes, Saturday night is now officially cider night...

Saturday, 19 July 2008

Night of the Living Dead

Interesting concept at the Crescent. A “There Isn’t a beer festival as originally planned,” beer festival. Basically, beers were made available from the cellar to complement the choice from the bar. Meaning a choice of about 22 beers-not bad for a wet Friday night.

I kicked off with York Peaches & Cream (3.9%) which was golden and pretty bland, with only a little fruit sweetness to distinguish it. Fearing the worst, I got Leyden Time & Tide (4.4%) out of the way next. Sure enough, this dark beer didn’t disappoint. Completely one-dimensional with the usual unpleasant Leyden tang. Talking of dodgy breweries, I was interested in trying Bazens Old Punch Ale as I had sampled it last week at the Castlefield Hotel. It was in a lot better nick in the Crescent and had lost some of that strange sharpness, but was still no great shakes.

3B’s Bee-jing (3.9%) was, surprise, surprise a sweet honey beer. Can’t see the point in them myself. Of the others tried, the best dark beer was probably Hornbeam Coral Stout (4.5%) which had plenty of flavour. Wentworth Rampant Gryphon (6.2%) was interesting. An unassuming amber beer, it was well balanced and hid its strength well. Yet again, though, the best beers were from proven breweries. Phoenix Ged’s Beer (4.5%) had plenty of hops but was surpassed by its stablemate, Irwell Gold (4.1%) which had a very pronounced bitter-hop kick and a nice dry finish. Close call between that and Leeds Samba (3.7%), which had a big, zesty, citrus kick to it.

The bus ride into the city centre was an adventure in itself. Scallies, the drunk, the soon-to-be-clubbing, all were getting out of Salford as fast the bus would allow them. Some entrepreneur was offering single ciggies for £2 to the back seat brigade, whilst one lass was arguing whether she was a slut or not. To prove the point she lowered her top and gave the lads at the back a flash of her assets. I never thought I would ever say this, but I was actually thinking put em’ away, luv. Not a pretty sight, believe me.

In the centre a quick toilet stop at the English Lounge revealed no cask, but a sign offering a bucket of beer for a £10. Full marks to the guy stood outside in a black sleeveless top, very tight white trousers, and a jaunty beret. Very circa 1970’s Shaft. Not many would have the balls to wear that on a dark, wet night in Manchester, but judging by the transparency of his crotch, he did.

Back on the tram to Bury, where more oddities abounded, and then a quickie in the Trackside. Robinsons Olympic Gold was obviously very green as it lacked any flavour whatsoever. Then it was last bus time and a nightcap of Golden Pippin in the Towler.

Friday, 18 July 2008

Fixing a Hole

Someone once told me that dentistry is the perfect job for a woman: they get to inflict pain on men and get paid for it. I hasten to add that my own dentist is, of course, a fragrant vision of total professionalism. Anyway, having survived my ordeal in the dreaded chair, there was still plenty of the day to kill. Unfortunately the inclement weather precluded anything too overtly summerly. A little too early to hit the Margaritas, so I had to find something less useful to do. Luckily, despite the decline in marriages, divorce is still popular.

However, man cannot live by work alone. And as Oscar Wilde said, I can resist everything except temptation. So eventually I found myself enjoying a cheeky one in the Sundial. The next logical stop was the Towler, and who am I to argue with logic? Nice to see it busy and, more importantly, serving some excellent Golden Pippin. However, man cannot live by Golden Pippin alone-well he could try-so a bus ride into town seemed in order.

Once safely cocooned in the Trackside, I fell into discussion with Streaker Stan who was looking resplendent in his liveried shirt. Beer wise I sampled Hartleys Cumbria Way which tasted just like Robinsons should. More interesting was Wylam Gold Tankard (4%) which had a pleasing mix of oats and Willamette hops. This is the first Wylam beer that I’ve really liked. Generally they don’t seem to produce beers with any hops in the North East, seemingly content with mundane brown beers. Hence my initial wariness. Some very nice hinnys up there, mind. Anyhow, that did just fine for me until closing time. Apparently some people want to go home at 0100. What is the world coming to, I ask you?

Thursday, 17 July 2008

Another Brick In The Wall

So it was a case of down tools and everybody out. And, never one to argue with the wishes of the workers soviet, I was showing my support by keeping up the pickets morale. Yes, I was standing shoulder to shoulder with them on the frontline, when the call came. The WHB was primed and ready for action and wondering if I could join him for a drink.

What a dilemma. Could I be excuse myself from the cut and thrust of picket politics? Ok, technically, this had only actually consisted of me chatting to a rather winsome typist from Bolton, but still...Reluctantly, I decided to sacrifice myself and meet up with him. Ok, technically, I was heading for the pub anyway, but still...

In the Trackside we were met by the unusual sight of a crowded bar. Initially I thought my comrades has used their initiative and set up an ideal command post. However, it turned out that these were no slouching strikers, but respectable members of the teaching profession. In fact, they seemed rather miffed by the assumption. Seems as if Algernon and Mrs Teacher had a good excuse for being on the lash. Apparently they had just finished school for the summer. Does anyone else remember the good old days when it was the kids who celebrated by getting pissed?

Obviously the WHB was greatly enthralled by all this excitement, and it was to be expected he would lose concentration in the presence of various nubile PE experts. Luckily for them he had to save his energy for the cycle home. Beer wise: the worst was Hidden Potential-which didn’t have any, whilst the best was an old favourite-Dizzy Blonde.

Wednesday, 16 July 2008

Housecall

Well the feta pizza was tasty but, cor blimey, it doesn’t half make you thirsty. I was gagging for a drink all day (no change there I hear you cry) before receiving an answer to my prayers. Eddie, the eager, legal beagle, had secured a kennel for himself and the Manx Minx. What better excuse for a celebration? I organised a posse and we looked forward to an evening of champagne, caviar, and dancing girls. This being Bury, however, we had to settle for a pint in the Trackside.

Elgoods Black Dog (3.6%) is another dark Mild which has lost the “Mild” tag. It made for an easy enough start, although there was a little too much roast in this sample, I felt. Northern Hit & Run (4.5%) somewhat divided the party with one individual unable to stand even the aroma. The rest of us thought this blond, raspberry beer was quite palatable. I alternated this with Blakemere Lady (4.3%) which was also a blond beer, but with much more bitterness.

After lubricating our joints, we took a stroll to admire Eddie’s future kennel, admirably close to the drinking hub of Bury. He’s not as daft as he looks-well he couldn’t be, could he? As were in the area, we decided it would be rude if we didn’t check out the local hostelries. When I was doing my drinking apprenticeship, I was told Tuesday is the day to really test a pub’s mettle. And so it has proved over the years, with many failing the Tuesday night test. How would these two locals fare?

A quick check in the Trafalgar revealed that Jennings Bitter was unavailable, so nil points there. The Rose & Crown was depressingly quiet with only two barflies in attendance. One of the possible reasons for the locals having deserted it soon became apparent. Skinners Cornish Knocker was pure vinegar. As was the Deuchars IPA. And yet both were being merrily offered to any poor, unsuspecting soul. This once mighty GBG pub really is now a shadow of its former self. The barmaid agreed that the problem might be that the beer hadn’t been pulled through, but refused to do so-apparently that’s not her job. With no other choice, we settled for some Wainwrights.

Back in Bury we sampled Blakemere Womble (4.1%) at the Peel. Yet another blond beer, but this time lacking any major characteristics. Then it was time for Eddie to consult bus timetables-after his recent Metrolink trauma, he’s boycotting them-and head for Pizza Pioneer. Where we shortly caught up with him and, unable to resist the half price promotion, and with beer goggles on, we plumped for the belly-busting big un’. When will we learn...?

On a sociological note, it was interesting to see that the Trackside now has its own transvestite. Making her debut was a former glass collector. Real ale drinkers have been portayed on certain blogs as a group of nationalistic, misogynistic twits. However, the regulars never skpped a heartbeat and welcomed him/her as if they were wearing usual attire instead of pink bra and matching belt. Such is the inclusivity of real ale. In a lot of pubs, the reaction would have been quite different.

Monday, 14 July 2008

Feta'll Be The Day

Feta is a Greek cheese made with either sheep's or a mixture of sheep's and goat's milk. It's white and soft with no rind and has a solid consistency with only a very few small holes if any at all. It has an agreeable if slightly acidic taste and a rich salty flavour which it gets from having been aged in a brine bath for up to a month.

The earliest written records of the name feta date back to the 17th century when Greece was ruled by the Venetians and the name is said to derive from the Latin word "Fete" which refers to the practice of cutting the cheese into slices so they can be placed in wooden barrels. Cheese historians still argue over whether the production of feta gets a mention in The Odyssey, but it seems more probable that it was some other, not dissimilar cheese.

Traditional feta is matured in wooden barrels or tin casks at cheese-making units located inside the designation of origin areas (DOA) in Greece, namely Macedonia, Thrace and Epirus in Northern Greece, Thessaly and Mainland Greece in central Greece, the Peloponnese in southern Greece, and the island of Lesvos.

Some shops sell a 'variety' of feta made with cow's milk which is artificially whitened. This is done because of the high fat content in cow's milk which turns yellow after a few days. Authentic Greek feta cheese never turns yellow. Following a decision by the European Commission, non-Greek producers, notably Denmark, now have to call their “feta” something else.

Greeks obviously take their cheese seriously; they consume an average of 23 kg per person annually, 40% of which is feta. I’m going to make a dint in that total having acquired 523g of it from Tesco for £1.28. First project is a feta pizza and then I’ll take it from there.

Sunday, 13 July 2008

Money Money Money

An unusual little crawl this time. Spurning the obvious Manchester choices-N/4, Oxford Road etc, we were reconnoitring the Liverpool Road pub scene. This is the area that houses the Science and Industry Museum. At one time a popular crawl in its own right, the emergence of bars and pubs nearer the main thoroughfare has somewhat overshadowed this area.

We started at the far end at the Castlefield Hotel. This is an unusual, modern YMCA complex that boats real ale on the bar. The bar itself is non-descript, typical of hotels throughout the land. Although there are three handpumps, today only is in action. This was dispensing Bazens Old Punch Ale. Rather a strange one this. Amber coloured, slightly hazy with no aromatic hops, yet it had plenty of bittering hops that gave a dry aftertaste. Having nothing to compare it to, I can’t say if it was supposed to an unbalanced beer, or was it a dodgy lot? However, it was very competitively priced, at only £2 a pint.

Next stop was the Ox. When this was a regular in the GBG, it was a pub called the Oxnoble. Interestingly, after all the recent discussions, the Ox makes it plain from the outside that it now considers itself a gastropub. Certainly all the seating inside is geared up for people dining. Before we’d even got a chance to order a drink, the barman was asking if we were dining. Politely declining, we selected a sample of the beers on offer and found a table. The Ox was never cheap and things haven’t changed. A pint weighed in at a top heavy £2.95. The Deuchars was warm and had obviously not been pulled through. Landlord was a better temperature and not in bad nick. Best of all was the Golden Pippin which was cool and tangy.

A short walk took us to the White Lion, which also focuses on the dining trade, although not as self consciously as the Ox. However, perhaps they were trying to prove a point, as the beer here was even MORE expensive than the Ox. Charging £3 for a 3.9% beer is daylight robbery without violence. I glanced round but, yes, I was still in a boozer basically off the beaten track. Perhaps they rely on naive punters from the museum who have more money than sense. The Pippin was pretty good (as it should be for that price) but when we tried to take advantage of the burgeoning sunshine, we were informed we would have to have plastic glasses for that. £3 a pint and they want you to drink out of plastic-sod that for a game of cowboys and Indians.

Next stop was Cask, which I’ve chronicled before. Two real ales on here and I tried a very good Facers Clwyd Gold. Pushing onto Deansgate, and the pub of the same name. Mirroring my last visit, the Robinsons Old Stockport was cool and in prime condition, with lots of moreish subtle fruit notes. We decided to push on to Knott Bar for some food. This, of recent, has been somewhat hit and miss on the beer front. Today was one of its down days. Only three beers were on, including the regular Manchester Bitter. The Spitting Feathers I tried was brown and very average. However, I think my companions were very satisfied with their Pictish El Diablo stout.

Perusing the food menu, I was amazed to see that Fish & Chips, which had been 50p more than the Deansgate on my last visit, was now nearly £10. Shear profiteering in my book. Warily I chose the exotic sounding Tudor Rose Pie. Luckily this lived up to its billing. A delicious blend of Lancashire and Wensyldale cheeses, with beetroot thrown in for good measure. Served with some decent chips and a salad garnish, this was just what the doctor ordered. Sadly, despite promising signs, Ginger Marble never appeared on the bar, prompting tears of frustration from one of our party.

A quick look in the Britons Protection revealed two All Gates guest beers which no one was willing to try. Finding the Pevril closed, we settled for a final beer in the Paramount. Unluckily Pipe Dream ran out as we were ordering it. The substitute-Hampshire King’s Ransom wasn’t bad though, being golden and quite dry. Then it was back to Bury and the Trackside. Here I tried a very nice Banks & Taylor Fruit Bat before moving onto Black Dragon cider. This 7.2% beauty was very aromatic and had a nice clean strong apple tang which was very drinkable.

Time was pressing now and it was time to move nearer home. A pit stop to refuel with a chip muffin propelled me into the Towler where I once more gorged myself on Golden Pippin till the wee small hours.

Saturday, 12 July 2008

The Ref Does Need Glasses

It’s no secret that our Eastern comrades take a slightly more relaxed view of drinking than we do. I’ve seen for myself how their love of the hard stuff is so deeply ingrained that any attempt to prohibit it meets stiff resistance. Henc, drinking on the job is still quite common, although not always as public as Sergei Shmolik’s performance this week.

Mr. Shmolik (recently voted Belarus referee of the year 2007) was overseeing a Belarus Premier League match when it became apparent something was amiss. An onlooker at the clash between Vitebsk and Naftan said: "In the second half, he hardly moved around the pitch at all. By the end of the game the reason was evident to everyone - the referee was drunk. This was confirmed with a medical test later in the evening."

Mr. Shmolik refutes any allegations of a vodka binge and claims he merely had back pain. Judge for yourself at www.youtube.com/watch?v=hXi-phDBacU

Friday, 11 July 2008

Trouble & Strife

Honestly, you can’t take them anywhere. You’d think a woman would just be grateful for being allowed through the doors of Hopwood Unionist Club, but, oh no, there’s always one troublemaker.

www.manchestereveningnews.co.uk/news/s/1057818_women_banned_over_tv_row

I’m totally appalled by this. I had no idea people were choosing to drink in Heywood. In my experience people can’t wait to get out of Monkey Town. Preferably before dark. And while I’m at it, the quality of journalism here is terrible. It fails to answer THE big question-the club is supplied by J.W.Lees, but is it cask?

Home Boys Home

There I was planning a night of quiet embroidery, when a message zooms in from Eddie, the eager, legal beagle. Could I join him for a discussion on the morality of subservience in the lower echelons of the civil service in post-Weimar Brandenburg? Well for such an important topic, who could refuse? The Queen Mother’s 100th birthday doily will just have to wait.

I had a cheeky warm up in Wetherspoons with a pint of Skinners Betty Stogs. Looking at the pumpclip, I was struck by the resemblance to a one-time barmaid at the Seven Stars. Ah, those were the days. Putting nostalgia back in its box, I headed for the Trackside. An excellent board awaited me with several tempting beers on offer.

Beers tried included Butcombe Gold which finished a little sweet for me. An old friend-Titanic Iceberg, proved to be in very good nick and its mix of crisp hoppiness proved too good to restrict to one pint. A new one to me was Wentworth Imperial Ale (3.8%) which, like a lot of their beers, turned out to be a brown beer of no great shakes. However, it was much better than Titanic Sundeck (4.3%) which was tan coloured with an earthy pong. The taste was somewhat better, but a mix of malt and cloying sweetness is far from a satisfying drink. As a Friday treat we dined on a Clayton Park pie each. These were sourced from the only local outlet-the Hornby St chippy. These are proper pies and not the soggy, rubber crusted crap that Hollands produce.

Unfortunately, True Grit had, by then, run out, so we decided on a change of scenery. A quick walk down to the Trafalgar where we had a pit stop for some Jennings Bitter. Then it was straight into the Rose & Crown. Not fancying Centurions Ghost, we tackled Deuchars IPA. Luckily, it was quite crisp and better than often is the case these days. A couple of those brought us past last orders and then it was a case of home, boys, home.

Thursday, 10 July 2008

D Day For Davis

So it’s the big one today. As has been mentioned by many interested in these things, well known nutter Hamish Howitt is standing. It’s a little unfair on the other “fringe” candidates-Mad Cow Girl, Church of Militant Elvis etc. After all, what chance do they have when faced with someone who’s one nut shy of a dry roasted packet? I did email him suggesting he change his party’s name to “Freedom to kill anyone standing innocently next to me” but so far, no response.

There is only one serious candidate for me-Gemma Garrett. She’s representing The Miss Great Britain Party. As she is the reigning Miss Great Britain, it makes sense. Now I think I owe Miss Garratt an apology. I initially thought it was all a publicity stunt and that it was a made up party. Ok, I never got any further than the picture of her in a bikini, but it turns out they have proper policies and everything. Blimey. Who’d have thought it, eh? And as she has correctly pointed out, they are the only party fighting on a full manifesto, rather than a single issue.

And what a manifesto it is. Highlights include,
“Securing proper pay and frontline increments for British soldiers as well as rights to substantial guaranteed compensation in the event of injury or death."
"Ensuring that all necessarily incurred child care costs are fully tax deductible."
A better deal for home buyers by abolishing stamp duties for first time buyers and making family homes exempt from inheritance tax."
"A better deal for pensioners by indexing annual pension increases against the true rise in the cost of energy, food etc rather than using the RPI and by increasing tax allowances for women under the age of 65."
"Help motorists by capping increases in fuel duties against the rising price of oil”
And my favourite.
"A British Bank Holiday which encourages people to look fabulous for the day”

No wonder Mr D refuses to engage the lovely Gemma in debate-it would be hard to argue against any of those. But I know what you’re thinking. Tyson, have you left your Oxbridge Economics O Level Certificate in the cupboard? How on earth will they pay for all of this? Fear not, the best is yet to come. Unlike their rivals who miraculously promise more spending and simultaneous tax cuts, the MGBP have got it covered. They promise a 45% tax barrier for those earning over £100,000 and 50% for £200,000 earners.
In her own words, “By getting more beautiful women to Westminster we believe that we can re-engage voters and bring about the changes they really want to see.”

Go, Gemma, Go.
Today's trivia: Apparently GemmaGarratt.co.uk is a 16yr old schollgirl who's website has one of the highest rates of misdirected traffic on the internet.

Another Rainy Night In Georgia Bury


More of our beautiful summer weather curtailed any ideas of an adventurous nature. Just a quick pit stop at the Towler for some Golden Pippin. As I sat there swaying along to Procol Harlem, sipping the sweet nectar of the gods, I had no sense of the impending disaster. Traumatic as it is to recall, these things need to be shared. Innocently I went to the bar for a refill. And that's where it happened. The Golden Pippin had run out! How could this happen to me? What had I done to deserve such a fate? I felt like I was in an episode of "999" and Michael Buerk would appear at any time. But there was no time to feel sorry for myself. Drinking time was ticking away and action was needed. Realising a bus was due imminently; I dashed out into the tipping rain just in time to see the bus about to pass me. I don't think the driver was impressed when I threw myself in his path, but it did ensure he stopped. Well, it was an emergency.


Before too long my beer chariot had deposited me safely outside the Dogs, where I could seek medical attention for my recent upset. This took the form (naturally) of several pints of hop remedy. Slaters Top Totty was first to the rescue, shortly followed by Lemon Dream. Kelham Island Best Bitter (3.8) was on good form, being a nice light session beer. I then switched onto a couple of pints of Bazens new seasonal (Summer Beer?) which wasn't overtly hoppy, but was well balanced and had a good dry finish. The finale, of course, had to be Golden Pippin with a dash to the bar to double up before last orders. With some comfort eating at Pizza Pioneer, I finally managed to put that awful experience behind me.


This post (if it works) has been brought to you by Microsoft's newfangled Word Blog Post tool. And the reason the title is in the post is because it won't let me strikethrough just one word in the title bar-don't get me started on Bill Gates...

Tuesday, 8 July 2008

Manic Monday

Was it still the buzz from yesterday, or just undigested Jaipur IPA? Either way, no Monday morning blues meant I got lots done today. I made an application for ancillary relief, fixed the microwave, and began writing an algorithm program to catalogue my music collection. And that was just the start, I then, hold on-I’m doing a Stonch here and going off piste. Next I’ll be coming over all poetic like Tandleman!

So, back to basics, as John Major use to say to Edwina after a night on the pop. It’s a cliché but a night in the big city does provide a good excuse for liquid nourishment. I kicked off with Tom Wood’s Bomber County (4.8%) but I should have known better. Wetherspoons are always putting their beers on and they always fail to impress. This had too much roast malt and too little of anything else to be palatable. It got slightly better with Highgate Fox’s Knob (4.4%) but this also failed to ignite me, despite its claims to be dry-hopped.

Luckily Taylors Landlord came to the rescue and saw me through till the main event-Jack Johnson. I was looking forward to this concert but was concerned that an arena setting wouldn’t be ideal for him. So it proved, unfortunately. Although he was technically excellent, the venue is ill-suited to his musical style. I presume his management thought they’d cash in on his burgeoning stardom and head straight for the big time. However, my view is that if you can’t sell the M.E.N Arena out (as he didn’t), don’t play it.

Just time for a half price Pizza Pioneer special before settling down with some 10yr old Macallan.

Monday, 7 July 2008

I Can't Stand The Rain

As predicted, heavy rain accompanied us all the way to Thornbridge Hall in Derbyshire. The reason for the long haul was to present beer of the festival awards, and have a nosey round the garden party. Oh, and hopefully try some of their beers on their home turf. There must have been a sense of optimism in the air as several Camra branches made the long journey, when, quite frankly, any sensible individual would have taken one look and gone somewhere else.

Being made of sterner stuff, I prepared for the coming festivities with breakfast and beer at Wetherspoons. This proved crucial in the long day ahead. On arrival we immediately made a beeline for the brewery. This was a small, compact affair, with a beer stand opposite serving 3 Thornbridge beers. Disappointingly, these proved to be the only beers available between both bars-it would have been ideal if one bar sold a different selection.

White Swan (3.5%), despite not being clear, was quite tasty for its strength, with a bitter-lemon finish. Lord Marples (4%) was more of your bog standard bitter. Not bad, but obviously the poor cousin of the three. The third, was of course, Jaipur IPA. This 5.9% well hopped (actually dry hopped here), multi award winner, was in good condition and seemed to be the favourite amongst our party. But just how much of it can you sup before weariness sets in and you’re all Jaipured out? Apparently, for me anyway, the answer is 5 pints.

By now the rain, and the lack of shelter, was proving a real pain in the Kelvin MacKenzie. Stopwatch Sid called a meeting for later to decide if we should move on ahead of schedule. However, by the time of the meeting we were basking in sunshine and, judging by the way people were gripping their plastic glasses, the Jaipur was kicking in. So we gave it a bit longer. And yes, I said plastic glasses. Tandleman had come prepared with his own glass. I had considered liberating one from JDW but couldn’t be arsed in the end. Have to say that the live act-Junkyard Dog-were a pretty good covers act with an excellent sound system.

We left just in time as the downpour started again. Our next stop was Ashover, a very picturesque village in North East Derbyshire. It was no surprise to learn that the village centre is a conservation area. There was a mass wilder beast like stampede to the nearest pub-all of 10 yards away. The more experienced drinkers avoided the bar melee by making the short journey up Church St to the other two pubs in the village.

Right at the top was the Black Swan which was serving a range of beers, all, much to Tandleman’s chagrin without a sparkler. It was here he first outlined a horrifying theory-that the sparkler was in decline. I was a little puzzled by this. After all, aren’t the Southern Softies always complaining that all their beer is now being served a la sparkler? Perhaps they have more than their fair share? In which case, give them back, now. I shall watch out for this worrying development. We did try Spire Land of Hop and Glory (4.5%) but this proved to be a rather insipid golden ale which even a sparkler couldn’t have saved. For trivia buffs, the Swan was the pub featured in the TV show Peak Practice.

The Crispin Inn further down the street was a very cosy Jennings hostelry. The Cocker Hoop (4.6%) was a very crisp golden beer with only a hint of honey to detract from it. Served in excellent condition, it was very enjoyable. We made our way down to the Old Poets Corner, only to find that our party were well and truly ensconced there. Or were they just well and truly pissed? Either way we threw ourselves into the thick of it with the knowledge that the clock was ticking down. Quite a scene; with the likes of Stopwatch Sid, the Wallsend Wonder, Tandleman, Morris Minor Mike, Galadriel and Charlie Jolly all tucking in with abandoned gusto.


The lack of sparklers led Tandleman to question the landlord over the issue and I don’t think he was convinced by the answer. Ashover Lane Coffin Stout (5%) was dark with initial sweet caramel notes that quickly died off. Their other beer that we tried was also disappointing. Poets Tipple (4.1%) was amber, quite watery, with only a slight fruit tang to tickle the palate. Dark Star Summer Solstice (4.2%) was much better, being very pale and good zesty bitterness. Finally we tried Landlord-with a hastily produced old fashioned sparkler. This got the thumbs up from our resident Landlord expert who had tried the non-sparkler version beforehand.

Then it was home-via the long way. A journey of nearly three hours did mean an unusually long sobering up time. Thank God I had Burl Ives to keep me company. It also meant that, after many years, I finally got to try the delights of the onboard loo. Back in Bury the situation had deteriorated even further in the Trackside with only 3 beers on. And no Cheddar Valley! Some people who should know better settled for the 3% Honey Porter whilst the real men went straight on Jever.

More substantial food would have been good at some point. Apart from JDW’s breakfast, my only alcohol defence was a packet of freshmint chewing gum. Summing up: a rather mixed start to the day, but improving as the day wore on and a very strong finish.

Sunday, 6 July 2008

Gone to the Dogs

Possibly a BDO (Big Day Out) tomorrow, so just a couple of pints early doors. Well that was the plan, anyway. I met Archimedes and the WHB up at the Dogs, hoping for some al fresco drinking. Unfortunately, when they said sunshine and showers, they meant it literally. Everytime we tried to go outside, the heavens opened. Not content with rain we were also treated to hailstone-in sunny July, for pity’s sake. Fortunately there were more than enough beers to keep us busy.

Salopian Lemon Dream (4.5%) was an interesting start. A wheat beer in which you could definitely taste the lemon, but I think the Cascade hops also contributed to the dry finish. Ossett Quicksilver (5%) had a nice golden hue but was disappointing by their high standards. Too much of the strength came through in the taste-never a good sign. Their Silver King (4.3%) was much better, with a good, clean finish. Kelham Island Pale Rider (5.2%) wasn’t bad, but it doesn’t appear to be the beer it once was.

Also tried was Shardlow Whistle Stop (5%), a golden beer that was pleasant enough, but lacked a kick that a beer of that strength should deliver. Copper Dragon Golden Pippin was on good form and went down a treat. Before hitting the TS, I introduced Archimedes to the cerebal delights of Pizza Pioneer, where we were able to take advantage of their buy one, get one half price offer.
Back, once more in the Trackside, we encountered a similar problem to yesterday. The Honey Porter was ok, but at only 3%, hardly a Porter. We decided to hit the cider as Archimedes had just missed his bus. However, Cheddar Valley is notorious for making you miss buses (and many other things), and so it proved. The one for the road became a couple before we could escape its beguiling charm. Still, good practice for tomorrow, I suppose.

Saturday, 5 July 2008

Friday Fest

A mini-fest at the Smithfield provided the excuse for some Friday night drinks in Manchester. Not that I wanted to go, of course, but Pythagoras and Archimedes can be quite insistent. So I sacrificed an evening of embroidery for the delights of the hop field. I had a couple of warm up pints of Phoenix Tennis Elbow (4.5%) at Bar Fringe-nice, light and hoppy, before crossing to the Smithfield.

One of the problems that the Smithfield has during these events is the method of dispense. To supplement the handpumps on the bar, several beers are served from jugs. This obviously impacts on the quality, with flat, sometimes warm beer being the result. Okay for the gaggle of scoopers present, but more of a problem for those who prefer quality over quantity. There were actually spare handpumps that could have been pressed into use, but there was a definitely sense of organisational lethargy. This was compounded by them running out of jugs and then serving one beer out of an ice bucket!

Out of the beers, Beartown Pandemonium (4.8%) was the worst, being dark, extremely chewy, with a sickly blackcurrant aftertaste. The best, out of a mediocre bunch, was Norfolk Cottage Liberty Bell (4.3%) which at least had some hops in it and, if served in better condition, would probably be quite good.

Back at Bar Fringe, Tennis Elbow had gone. However, Phoenix Hopsack (3.8%) was available, as well as York Decade (4.1%). Both of these were tried and tested old friends and were in excellent condition. The last offering from (now defunct) Owl Brewery was also on offer. They have been inflicting terrible beers on an unsuspecting public for far too long, but, in the interests of posterity, I tried a sample of Omega. It didn’t disappoint and was pretty rank. The guy trying a sample next to me actually spat it out. Interestingly, some people think that it’s Owl’s best beer ever. Ok, it might be better than Leyden Referee, but I think you’ll find that even sweet smelling manure is still manure.

We called in especially at the Crown & Kettle to try the Coach House Blueberry (5%). This proved somewhat of a disappointment. It lacked the crisp fruit taste that I’ve experienced before with this beer-not bad, but not great. A tram ride took us back to Bury and the delights of the Trackside. Immediately we sensed trouble. Acorn Cascade IPA (5%) dried up after one pint. The beer board was worryingly sparse-a problem that can arise when Streaker Stan isn’t working; as no one else seems able to change a barrel. Luckily, he was there off duty. And, although heavily under the influence of Welsh perry, after a bit of cajoling, he put some fresh beer on. So I got to finish the night on some very nice Facers Landslide. But it is a problem they need to address in the future.

Thursday, 3 July 2008

As You Were

Very much a case of how you were. A long day meant that I only managed to get to the Sundial in time to witness the final moments of Andy Murray’s ass whooping. It was quieter than previous evenings but it was still relatively early. The Wainwrights was still in good form, but I pushed on to the Hark to Towler. It seems everyone wants to try the Golden Pippin. And who can blame them at £1.85 a pint? Talking to the landlord, he said that it’s a loss leader for him. I don’t think it needs to be-its reputation speaks for itself. However, obviously I didn’t tell him that. Never look a gift horse etc.

A few pints sunk and then a quick bus ride to Bury. The Trackside didn’t have anything to compare with Golden Pippin, but I made do with Wolf Straw Dog. This is a 4.5% pale Weisse beer. It doesn’t actually taste like a Weisse beer, being rather bland, but did suffice for a pint or two. Rather foolishly I decided on a nightcap at Wetherspoons. Naturally there wasn’t anything decent beer wise available, so I plumped for a soothing whisky.
My diversion did prove worthwhile in one respect, however. If only to prove that there is no age limit to being a yob. Having sat at an empty table, I was harangued by an aggressive 72yr (as he kept telling me) old who proved most disagreeable. Some people thought maybe he was a bit potty, but that’s just ageism. Would they have thought the same of a 20yr old? No. They would just have assumed he was a knob. And, in his case, they would probably have been right.

Wednesday, 2 July 2008

Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head

With a shortage of volunteers for a trip to Southport’s wine festival, I found myself at something of a loose end. Step forward Eddie, the young, eager, legal beagle. We decided to have a quick canter round Bury’s periphery, taking advantage of the nice weather. Oh how naive we were. Al fresco drinking is a gift that the Gods only rarely bestow., as we were about to find out.

Things started promisingly at the Dusty Miller. This is a tied Moorhouses pub and delivered an acceptable pint of Premier. And we even got to sit outside. This feat was repeated at the Help Me Thro’, where Wainwrights was the drink of choice. This, like most Thwaites beers, isn’t outstanding, but the Help Me Thro’ usually serves a very acceptable pint of it.

From there we hailed a hackney carriage to transport us to the Brown Cow. A near miss here. One of the handpumps was turned round, but luckily it proved to be an Allgates, so no tears shed there. The other beer on offer was Cottage Mallard IPA (4.1%) which wasn’t an IPA by anyone’s definition. Having said that, it was pleasantly tart and went down without any trouble. A cut through the park up to Walmersley Road took our luck a step too far and the heavens duly opened up and delivered a deluge.

Arriving at the Sundial drenched-well one of us being a real man hadn’t brought a brolly; we tried to dry out over a pint of Wainwrights. Yet again, we weren’t disappointed by the beer quality, although it’s always sad to see a tied brewery pub selling only one beer. Thwaites have done a good job with the refurb here and restored the original two room layout. Ok, it has a slightly generic look about it, but full marks to Thwaites for investing in a community local. The second room is somewhat of a wasted space as they’ve crammed the ubiquitous pool table in, at the expense of more seating. There was definitely a split in character between the two rooms, with a good mix (including some nice eye candy) in the lounge, whilst the pool room looked to be full of the estate scallies.

We braved the weather to march a little further up to the Hark to Towler. The Walmersley circuit isn’t one Eddie is too familiar with, but with his impending move he’ll be but a bus ride away, so it was time to broaden his education. The Towler, too, I noticed, had crammed a pool table in. It really looked out of place situated so close to the dining area, but hey, we’re only here for the beer. And luckily the Golden Pippin was on top form. So good, in fact, that we were forced to stay for three pints. Time was pressing now, but Eddie wanted to complete the circuit by visiting the Hark to Dandler.

A forced march took us to this J.W.Lees house which I had visited only last week. Once again Lees bitter was the only offering and was fine-as far as Lees goes! Not unexpectedly there weren’t many in on a damp, late Tuesday evening. The main attraction was a senior citizen raver, who was definitely up for a bit, despite (or maybe because of?), the presence of her rather lethargic other half. Apparently Eddie and the Dandler have some underage history between them. However, it was time to summon a taxi to take us homeward bound, spurning the opportunity for a lock in, and some quality time with the grey haired sexpot.

Quite a wide ranging tour, with decent beer at every stop.