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Showing posts from 2009

Return of the Ploughman's

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What I do I see before me at Marks and Spencer? A Christmas Ploughman’s sandwich. Not only does this abomination contain gammon-therefore disqualifying it as a real ploughman’s anyway, but they’ve completely bastardised it. Just so they can give it the daft moniker of “Christmas Ploughman’s”. Pure madness. Some of the proceeds may be going to Shelter, but frankly they should be ashamed of themselves. If they had any integrity, they would refuse the donation on the grounds of good taste.

And while I’m at it, why do all their sandwiches contain large doses of mayo? I want a nice cheese and tomato (or a proper ploughman’s), not something covered in Greek yoghurt etc.

Stuff this-I’m off for a Wetherspoons breakfast.

Idiot Wind

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Boxing Day madness. That’s the only explanation for the hordes of shoppers queuing for the sales. 15,000 very sad people were waiting outside the Trafford Centre at 9am and the queue for Next had apparently formed at 3.30am. I have it on good authority that there were even people waiting for Bury’s Argos to open, despite its sales being described by an insider as “pants”.

What’s wrong with these people? Apart from having no life, don’t they realise that Boxing Day is meant to be spent in the pub. Come to think of it, that could be said of most, if not every, day, but certainly Boxing Day is a traditional drinking holiday, despite the outdated British transport system.

With this tradition firmly in mind, it was time for me and Eddie, the eager, legal beagle to pay our respects. With the Manx Minx occupied in her native land with the annual Gruffalo hunt, Eddie was a free agent, although she had cast the usual Manx spells to ensure he would (eventually), return home.

The frolics kick…

A Very Merry Spoons Christmas

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It’s Christmas in Wetherspoons, again. It’s full of oldies, saddies and weirdies, so naturally I feel at home! They were obviously hammered beer wise last night as there’s very little left. There’s some Hook Norton Twelve Days-probably because it’s 5.5% and a little bit of Loddon Razzle Dazzle which goes down very easily. Only time will tell if cider is called into play.

Next stop: the Masons and some endangered Golden Pippin.

A Very Merry Northern Christmas

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As I Went Out One Morning

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On my way to the WHB’s wild Christmas party-the cold weather producing some of the coldest Darkstar Hophead ever drunk, but boy was it good. My sensibilities were inflamed by a ruddy big poster that was truly disgusting. It was definitely not the sort of thing the genteel classes need to see before a spot of free binge drinking. I was left shocked by its sheer naked effrontery.

And what about the kiddies? Does no one care about them anymore? It was out in the open for any of the little ones to gawp at. I shall now take a moment to gather my senses and try to describe this horror. It was an advert, apparently paid for by the NHS, proclaiming the benefits of minimum pricing. Under the heading of “Small Change Big Difference” it went on to say that “if alcohol had a minimum price of 50p per unit, experts predict that there could be:

3000 Fewer deaths

97,000 Fewer hospital admissions

45,000 Fewer crimes

Nearly 300,000 fewer sick days

An end to world hunger and peace in the Middle East

O…

Who Ate All The Pies

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He’s too late to be considered for the BBC Sports Personality of 2009, but let’s raise a cheer to the region’s latest sports champion. Step forward Barry Rigby, who this week won the World Pie Eating Championship in Wigan. Now you may think pie eating isn’t a legitimate sport, but that’s fighting talk in Wigan where they take it very seriously.

Rigby, 36, chomped his way to success by demolishing a meat and potato pie in 43 seconds. This was particularly impressive as (1) it was his first time in the contest and (2) it had to be done without the aid of gravy. However, Barry isn’t a pie novice by any means and by his own admission gets through “between 10 and 20 a week, at least”.

The contest is held at noon-known locally as “pie noon” and the pie must measure 12cm by 3.5cm deep and have 66% meat content. For statisticians out there, the world record is 35.86 seconds. The contest is not without controversy, however. Three years it infuriated traditionalists by scrapping the eat all you …

California Dreamin'

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Some interesting celebrity news with the announcement that Guy Ritchie plans to expand his pub empire overseas. Seems Mr ex-Madonna, who owns the Punch Bowl in swanky Mayfair, wants to export the British pub to our American cousins.

In association with his business partner, Nick House, he intends to open pubs in Los Angeles and New York. And these won’t be plastic imitations of the kind that you find in the Costa del Sol. They will be clones of the Mayfair pub, offering real British food, a real British beer garden and, intriguingly, real ale. One thing’s for certain. Considering the price of a pint in the Punch Bowl, a round of Landlord in LA or NY will require some deep pockets.

You've Had Your Chips

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A promising development on the chip (sorry, crisp) front. Lacking the energy to walk more than a hundred yards, I once more found myself limited to the Co-Op range. With a scornful glance at the still piled high Lightly Salted Kettle Chips, I searched for a viable alternative.


And sat there, on BOGOF no less, were the CO-OP’s own special brand. Locally sourced, hand cooked, etc-but the question was, were they any good? I was a little sceptical, I will admit. Chardonnay white wine vinegar is less acidic than cider vinegar, so I was concerned that I wouldn’t get the full-on flavour I prefer with salt & vinegar crisps.

However, my concerns proved groundless. A delightfully light crisp, they combine a good crunch factor with plenty of flavour. Perfect for post pub munching or the morning after sobering up snack.

A Christmas Carol Poser

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Bad news on the Christmas drinking front. The local Spoons have announced their Xmas opening hours and therein put somewhat of a spanner in my plans for Christmas Day. Eddie, the eager, legal beagle has put into place detailed military style drinking plans for Christmas Eve and Boxing Day. This just leaves the big day itself.


Now I’m sorted for an early start at the Trackside and later afternoon drinks in the Towler before moving onto the Masons. The lunchtime slot is complicated by the fact that I’m supposed to be entertaining my dear old mother then. My cunning plan was to take her to the posher local Spoons (which she quite likes) thereby killing two birds with one stone-she could have her Christmas lunch and I could keep to my plan of spending all day supporting the British boozer.

Sadly, the posher Spoons isn’t opening on Christmas Day. Only the rougher one is. And, having spent some of last Christmas Day in there, I don’t think I can subject her to that misery. She may be as old …

Live and Exclusive

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The Tandleman Appreciation Society's christmas party is now in full swing. There was palpable excitement as the awards ceremony reached its climax. Tandleman won best contribution to Tandleman writing and a lifetime achievement for his devotion to the Tandleman cause. He also came a credible second in the Tandleman lookalike contest.

A Rose Is A Rose Is A Rose

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The Rose & Crown on Manchester Old Road has had more ups and downs over the years than a bride’s nightie. An ex Good Beer Guide pub, it once was part of the Pubmaster Tap & Spile chain and offered an unrivalled selection of real ales, all served in lined glasses.


Since its glory days, it’s had an eclectic mix of licensees-the good, the bad and the indifferent. Hearing it was trying to make something of a comeback, I’ve been keeping an eye on the place. The trouble with it seems to be inconsistency. Although my Adnams was fine on this visit, you can never be sure of how many beers are going to be on or in what condition they will be.

A classic case of quantity over quality, you might think. But there also seems to be two other problems here as well. One is the grave reluctance to accept that there is anything wrong with the beer, however bad it is. And the strange matter of charging 10p for tasters. It’s the first time I’ve come across a charge for them and most people seem fra…

A Tiger In The Rough

Tiger Woods alleged mistress, Rachel Uchitel, has, allegedly, been paid a seven figure sum to NOT talk about their alleged affair and is now in discussions with Playboy magazine. Ah, I remember the good old days when you got paid for actually spilling the beans. But, inspired by Ms Uchitel's example, I will also be remaining silent on any possible relationship with Mr Woods. And as for Playboy, should they be willing to pay my bus fare and provide a bag of organic liqourice for lunch, I am at their disposal.

A Walk On The Wild Side

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View A Walk On The Wild Side in a larger map

A walk on the wild side. Or at least as far as a Greater Manchester bus saver will take you. That meant relying on the not so reliable hourly bus service. But we were yet to learn that lesson and so we kicked off in an old friend-the White Horse at Edgworth. This used to be a popular haunt in the days when Bolton had later licensing than Bury and still remains a good pub.

No sign of the bus, so we decided to walk to the official start of the crawl-the Chetham Arms at Turton, some 1.2 miles distance away. En route we found time to call at the rather good Black Bull, but somehow managed to avoid sampling the JW Lees that was one of the choices on the bar.

The Chetham is one of four pubs in the Welcome Taverns group. They are developing a reputation for taking on underperforming pubs, increasing the real ale range and putting in a quality food operation. It had five cask beers on, but was quiet. Presumably because not many people dine out in the …

The Curious Incident Of The Co-op Assistant And The Kettle Chips

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Recently I was reminded of this exchange in the classic Sherlock Holmes story “Silver Blaze”:

Gregory (Scotland Yard detective): "Is there any other point to which you would wish to draw my attention?"
Holmes: "To the curious incident of the dog in the night-time."
Gregory: "The dog did nothing in the night-time."
Holmes: "That was the curious incident."

And so to the curious incident of the Co-op sales assistant and the Sea Salt & Balsamic Vinegar flavoured Kettle Chips. Everyone knows the value of Kettle Chips: they are both a good source of post drinking nutrition and an easy to prepare breakfast. Their salt and vinegar crisps are particularly appealing to the connoisseur, offering a good, sharp, bite and oak-aged Modena vinegar.

Thus one night, having had my body once more tortured trying to keep up with Eddie, the eager, legal beagle’s excesses; I called in for some late night help. The local Co-op is always a reliable, if expensive (exce…

Beer, Gas, Lights

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An unusual fate awaits a truckload of illegal lout. Customs have seized 41,472 bottles of lager and plan to convert the bootleg grog into electricity. The 13,686 litres of Becks were seized at Felixstowe for failure to pay excise duty and will be sent to a special plant where they will be broken down into gas to produce electricity. Every beer drinker knows that beer produces gas, but this is probably the first time that this unwanted by-product has been put to such good use.

The Rat Race

Interesting piece in today’s paper about the Rat Race Ale House which opened last Wednesday at Hartlepool Railway Station. Landlord Peter Morgan was made redundant from Newcastle Building Society and promptly set about making a dream become reality by converting a former newsagents into a real ale pub.

The micropub-it’s only 20ft by 14ft- claims to offer four guest ales, books & newspapers to read, full pints, take home ale and civilisation. What it won’t offer is fizzy beer, alcopops, music, big screen TV, antisocial behaviour and, apparently, a bar! Sounds an interesting place to visit-but not when Hartlepool are at home.

Way Out West

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Radcliffe is a suburb of Bury that borders the foreign lands of Bolton. Despite being only 2.5 miles from Bury, Radcliffe has a reputation as a strange place where the locals still worship the Norse gods and speak archaic languages. It’s the birthplace of Danny Boyle who embodies the dream of the some 34,000 residents who still live there: escape at any cost.


It’s also home to a number of pubs of dubious reputation, but which need documenting if the mapping of all of Bury’s pubs is to be complete. So, first stop was the Unicorn, the last pub within Radcliffe’s boundary. This proved a pleasant surprise with the pub advertising cask ales and delivering a cool, well kept pint of Hobgoblin, despite it being the first of the day.

It all went downhill from there, with the Turf, the Royal Oak, the Lord Raglan and the Flying Flute (the Horse Shoe as was) all delivering a cask free message in varying degrees of tattiness. The Colliers was particularly scruffy and, frankly, looked in need of fum…

York

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Saturday saw us take a little tour of York, exactly one year after our last visit. This time, Eddie, the eager, legal beagle was under strict orders to keep his walking pace to sub warp out of respect for the elderlies in our group. Mind you, when the rain started coming down, there was no time for dawdling. Now everyone knows solicitors bring bad luck, but Eddie is actually known to the people of Eboracum as the “Rainmaker”, such is his habit of bringing bad weather to the city.

As per last time, the Rook & Gaskill and the Waggon & Horses were good, albeit quiet due to their location at the outskirts of the city and it being early afternoon. Not unexpectedly the nearer the Minster, the busier the pubs get and we were lucky to get a table in the Guy Fawkes. This is a historic inn and whether or not it really is the birthplace of Guy Fawkes, it certainly has a lot of atmosphere and a very promising menu.

Another interesting diversion was Pivo. This bills itself as a “world pub” …

Bury Beer Festival

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Bury Beer Festival took central stage at the Met over the weekend with its expanded format proving popular amongst drinkers and music lovers alike. Certainly the inclusion of the downstairs bar area into the festival was very welcome as it vastly increased the amount of seating available.

A quick head count made it some 77 beers for local imbibers to choose from. The hall was split along the lines of local and non-local beers. Bury’s very own Leyden took up the back bar-very convenient for drinkers wishing to ignore their wares. Much more palatable were the extensive offerings from Outstanding, including the rarely seen White; a cloudy wheat beer full of lemon and earthy spiciness. Local celebrity Joe Stalin was spotted enjoying a pint (or two) of this as he lectured on the Second Congress of Soviets.

Some familiar names delivered the goods beer wise: Marble, Mallinsons, Elland were very good, but Brewdog proved to be my favourite. Their 5% Sam Saint was an extremely (too much for som…

This Is The Modern World

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Now I’m all for modernity, but some things are just wrong. And urinals with swirling, changing, colours are one of them. I’ve tried, but I’m not warming to them. The scene of this affront to human decency? Barca, a trendy bar in the Castlefield basin of Manchester. Famously once owned by Mick Hucknall, it has recently returned to the cask beer fold and so is now back on the real ale map of Manchester.

Together with the nearby Dukes 92 (3 casks on), it offers a rare opportunity to sup a pint in or out (luckily it never rains in Mncr) surrounded by young, posh, totty. What more could a man ask for? Or, indeed, let’s not be sexist, any self respecting lipstick lesbian.

Now obviously this pleasure doesn’t come without a price. You can expect to pay around £3 or more for your indulgence. And for those prices, you don’t expect to be overwhelmed by some LSD 60s’ vision. Not when you’re having a pee, anyway.

Picture the scene-you’ve had a few beers, you enter (a very clean, nicely tiled) dimly…

George Slays The Dragon

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Or nearly, anyway. For it seems that a modern George, in the shape of Cobe Consulting, is set to slay a local dragon. In this case, the Dragon pub on Parr Lane. But local residents are hoping this particular George falls on his sword and forgets about any development plans for the now derelict pub.

The Dragon is/was an ordinary pub. Nothing to mark it out from the crowd: no award winning food, no great selection of ale, no outstanding historical features. But it did minister to local needs and its loss is confirmation of a worrying trend. That, just as the Amazon is facing deforestation, we are facing depublication of densely populated areas-the traditional heartland of the public house.

Cobe’s exciting plans for the Dragon; namely a Co-op with apartments (flats to me and thee) are proving as welcome as a fart in a spacesuit. Apart from being daft and unnecessary-there is a row of shops literally next door, the residents objections are based on sound practical issues such as parking. …

Send The Buggers Back

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Confirmation comes today that Scottish & Newcastle are going to waste time and money and, even worse, piss me off by introducing new glassware emblazed with units of alcohol. And not just a few, but four million of the buggers by 2010. And then they intend to roll out the concept to other brands. Lovely.

Without revisiting the farce surrounding the flawed concept of units, anyone can see this for what is it: a shameless act of appeasement to the anti-alcohol lobby. Unfortunately, no one seems to have told Mark Given, S&N UK brands director, that appeasement seldom works. The enemy merely scents blood. His lame excuse is however worth printing for the comedy factor alone: “Foster’s has long been at the forefront of dispense innovation and we wanted to create a glass to complement the brand’s unrivalled draught credentials.”

Now my advice is to steal or smash these insidious vessels of the devil. Then S&N may get the message. However, those of you wishing to take the Gandhi op…

A Nut By Any Other Name

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Professor David Nutt certainly likes controversy-he’s courted much of it lately and won many admirers. Some however looked beyond the initial rumpus and questioned his underlying motives. Was he an innocent victim of politicking or, as the Pub Curmudgeon would have it: “In the final analysis, Nutt is not a hero of rationality and free speech, he is just, at heart, another Righteous bansturbator”.

Well it appears he has nailed his colours to the mast and he is indeed nuttier than a bowl of Swiss Muesli. In interviews today he reiterates his belief that alcohol should be a controlled substance, saying “This is not a stunt. I mean it. Alcohol will kill your kids not Ecstasy”. Failing that he would like to see the price of alcohol doubled, if not tripled. However, he claims not to be a puritan having enjoyed the odd booze binge and even dabbled with the odd drug or two when he was younger. So that just makes him a hypocrite then.

Prof Nutt should have stuck to his Bunsen burners and kept ou…

Reach For The Sky (But Not The Vodka)

And now for something completely different-a tale of woe taken from my Law and Disorder blog.

A 47 year old mother was arrested and charged with supplying a minor with alcohol after asking her teenage daughter to help her shop for a cocktail party. Petite Sue Savage asked daughter Tara, 15, to reach up and fetch £10 of vodka and mixers down from a high shelf at their local Co-Op. A seemingly reasonable request, as not only could she not reach, she was doubly handicapped by wearing an ankle brace. Whilst Tara on the other hand is an impressive 6ft 3in, so has no such problems.

The trouble began when she tried to pay for the items and a supervisor appeared and warned her that they suspected her of supplying booze to a minor. After tiring of explaining herself and not wishing to make a scene, Sue left without the alcohol. However, she returned later and (rightly I feel) insisted on purchasing the bottles, despite the manager now warning her that she was breaking the law.

Being an innocent …

Bury Beer Festival

Good news for local drunks, I mean ale aficionados, with the confirmation that Bury Beer Festival will be going ahead after all. As usual the venue will be Bury Met on the 20th/21st November with opening hours of 12-11 on both days and an entry fee of £4. As there is no Camra involvement this year, the format will be somewhat different, with there being an emphasis on live music throughout both days. Beer wise, local brewers will be peddling their wares, so expect to see the likes of Moorhouses, Thwaites, Phoenix etc. Not forgetting, of course, Bury’s very own Outstanding Brewery. Be there or be somewhere else...

Through The Barricades (Or The Designated Alcohol Zone)

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Interesting news today with the report that Oldham (yes, them again) council are planning to “get tough” with supermarkets selling cheap grog. They’ve written to 17 stores warning of new trading conditions that they may apply if the store sells alcohol for less than 50p a unit. These primarily focus on having an in-store designated alcohol zone with a clear “gateway” to the zone and various conditions liable to the zone, such as having to provide a security officer for the zone and a ban on promotions outside of the zone.

Many of these conditions frankly sound like nonsense: There will be a limit on the size of promotional material advertising cheap drink-maximum 20cm x 10cm and a requirement to display one of five responsible drinking messages!
Of course this follows hot on the heels of their plans to impose similar conditions on town centre pubs and clubs. But hold on, you might say, didn’t most of those conditions fail at the first hurdle? Yes, as well these might if the likes of Te…

The Circle Of Life

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A busy day today. I’ve just returned from watching a piece of Bury’s drinking history being razed. Yes, the Brickcroft Tavern on Brook St has been reduced to a pile of, er, bricks. Sadly, the writing has been on the wall for some time now, as I speculated in this earlier story.

I used to pop in there in the 70s on my way back from school. I think Jim Grimshaw was the landlord back then and it was there I developed a taste for Tuborg snakebite before eventually graduating onto Thwaites Mild and then Bitter. Like all pubs, it had its share of mini-crisis and made the local paper on more than once occasion. A plaque commemorating local Fusiliers killed at Gallipoli was found in a nearby scrapyard and hung over the bar until an appeal found some of their descendants. And in 2005 police were called after the licensee found an unwelcome guest in her bed-her naked, estranged partner!

But it’s not called the circle of life for nothing. Out with the old, in with the new, as Jordan likes to say. …

Some Good Cheer

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Some good news for once on the local pub scene. The Star Inn at Broughton in Salford has been saved by locals who have clubbed together to buy it at auction for £80,000. The Star on Back Hope Street is a lovely little pub in a conservation area that seemed doomed when Robinsons announced their decision to sell it. However, in just a matter of weeks, a consortium was formed and hopefully they have now secured its future. Having enjoyed many a cosy lock-in sat in the vault, I congratulate them and wish them all the best for the future.

Just Like That

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They say our loved ones never truly leave us. And so it may be in the case of the late, great, Tommy Cooper. For some 25 years after he shuffled off this mortal coil, it appears he has returned-on the bottom of a steak pie. Chip shop owner Crad Jones stumbled across this amazing discovery whilst enjoying his usual lunch of chips and steak pie at his shop in Caerphilly.

Mr Jones, 45, said he called the manufacturers, Peter's Pies, when he noticed the silhouette so they could document his find. He went on: “The comparison was amazing. It was definitely Tommy Cooper. I called my daughter over and she recognised it as Tommy Cooper too. I got the pictures because I thought no-one would believe me."
This is pure nonsense, of course. Obviously, there is no way that this pie has Tommy Cooper’s face on it. It looks much more like Tandleman to me.

Dance Of The Mad

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As we all know, binge drinking is the scourge of modern Britain and something needs to be DONE. Step forward Bury council who are tackling the problem of irresponsible drinking head-on. Cleverly, they are eschewing the obvious routes-targeting problematic venues, education and such like and are taking a more oblique approach.

The council brain boxes have decided to ban people from bringing drinks into council owned venues. This ban includes bottles of water. Something that hasn’t gone down too down well with the various dance classes that use the council facilities. Line dancers, for example, have been told that they must leave their bottled water in the foyer for collection later.
A council spokesman pointed out that there was a difference between types of events. Soft drinks would still be permitted for exercise classes, but purely “social” events such as ballroom, line dancing etc would be subject to the letter of the law. There is a licensing requirement to ensure responsible drinki…

Nancy Whisky

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I knew it was going to be one of those weekends. It usually is. After last weekend’s drink till you burst wine tasting at Urbis, I was looking forward to a quiet one curled up with Wolf Hall. Naturally it was not to be as Eddie, the eager, legal beagle had other ideas.

Friday saw me join him and the Manx Minx at the Met for the cultural phenomena that is the Lancashire Hotpots. Obviously a few drinks were required pre show and, thanks to MALT being downstairs, actually during the very enjoyable 90 minutes top notch entertainment. Indeed Eddie was so overcome by the emotional impact of Shopmobility Scooter that he was seen dabbing his tears with his tweed handkerchief.
Of course post show drinks were called for. Time flew as did the Jever and then with the witching hour come and gone and the Trackside closing its doors, Eddie and Minx disappeared for a pizza. I decided to call at the Towler for a Golden Pippin nightcap and discovered there was free beer to be had. Well it would have been…

David Cameron's Flying Circus

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So the circus has packed up and is headed out of town. Yes, the Conservative conference in Manchester is over. A week of arguments, late nights and copious drinking has come to an end. And that was just me. The hotel trade did best out of it, closely followed by restaurants. Pubs didn’t do as well as they would have hoped, but although the Fourth Estate doesn’t quite knock it back like they used to, there were a few drams had in the Britons Protection and a jolly good knees up in the Pevril.

Of course, Conservative Chairman Eric “Britain doesn’t really have any riot police” Pickles had ordered restraint on the booze front and actually imposed a champagne ban. However, trying to keep a bunch of old Etonians off the fizzy stuff is like trying to catch a fart with oven gloves-impossible. Future PM David Cameron was pictured flouting the ban and Philip Whittington was so keen on the stuff, he spent the nights in the cells after staff at the Midland Hotel alleged he helped himself to a £150…

Let's Get It On

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You’re never too old for a bit of slap and tickle, but you may need some help. That’s the message from Manchester Council who, in conjunction with the NHS, have produced an illustrated guide to bonking for the over 50s. The Guide To Good Sexual Health for the Over 50s is a handy 47 page booklet with chapters such as “Let’s Talk About Sex” and “Dating Advice”.

People featured include 68-year-old Pam, who writes: `We're more experienced, more mature and more confident and we're able to talk about what we want which makes us better lovers”. Right on, sister.

However, Sarah Kennedy on the Dawn Patrol quipped that by the time you were 50, hopefully you knew what you were doing and Tory MP Ann Widdecombe said: 'I think this guide is an incredible waste of money. If someone hasn't learnt how to have sex by the time they have turned 50 then a booklet is certainly not going to help”.
There have also been some complaints over the £8000 cost of producing the 5000 copies. Personally…

Well I Never

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I’ve been asked what I think of the recent survey of Pizza restaurant chains. Or the report of the bleeding obvious, as I like to call it. The Which Good Food Guide sampled margheritas from the country’s six largest chains and then rated them for taste, quality and restaurant experience. Pizza Express came top with 30.5 out of 45, whilst Pizza Hut came bottom with 11/45. Apparently they serve the smallest, fattest and crappest. So, they've officially concluded that Pizza Hut are shite. I could have saved them a lot of time and money, if they'd only asked.

Next week: dog bites man.

Here We Go

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At the start of a very busy weekend, Thursday saw the start of the latest beer festival at the Hare & Hounds in Holcombe Brook. This is the biggest pub festival in the world and with 276 beers to come through the pumps, one of the UK’s biggest cask operations.

Some 38 beers were on offer and the first job was to try some new ones. Battledown Natural Selection was golden and slightly spicy. Beartown Peach Melba was like a cask version of Timermans Peche and proved so tasty that I had to return to it later on. Whilst both Acorns-Northdown Blonde and Summer Pale were old friends who delivered what was expected of them.
Another new one with Shugborough Mi Lady’d Fancy which was golden and easy going for 4.6%, if a tad sweet. Blythe Ridware Pale was similar in palate but without the sweet finish. Next up were two I was keen to try properly. Whitehaven Ennerdale Blonde and Ennerdale Bitter. Whilst the Blonde won universal praise for being a well balanced and moreish, I also was impressed …

Here We Go (Again)

But of course there is no rest for the wicked. Like the fourth emergency service, a good beerhound is always on call. So it was, that the very next day, I found myself at the legendary Septemburyfest, organised by our very own Eddie, the eager legal beagle. The great thing about this shindig is that you comfort yourself that your drinking is altruistic. It’s not for your benefit but done to swell the coffers of charity.

It’s definitely quality, not quantity, here as Eddie had selected guaranteed bankers. It really was a glut of riches and it will come as no surprise that the likes of Brewdog Trashy Blonde, Pictish Cluster and Mallinsons Octagon Tower were all very tasty. And Lakeland Gold was in such good form that some amateurs actually found it too fruity and hoppy to cope with. My favourite though was Meantime London Pale Ale. Eddie commented that the cask was literally full of hops and it certainly translated to the tongue-a very satisfying pint, indeed.

However, despite strong prot…

A Spoonful Of Beer Will Help The Medicine Go Down

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All lovers of the grape or the grain know their wondrous abilities. Above and beyond the joyous taste, comes a whole load of miraculous powers: improved dexterity, making us more attractive and, of course, making Frank Skinner seem funny. Now, however, it seems that medical science is finally waking up to the possible benefits of a spoonful of booze.

Yes, in a comprehensive American study, people with alcohol in their bloodstream were found to suffer less severe brain trauma and have a reduced risk of dying. The study followed 38,000 patients over a five year period and demonstrated that some 38% had less trauma and spent less time on a ventilator. Furthermore, the death rate amongst imbibers was only 7.7% as compared to 9.7% in the non-drinking group.
Writing in the Archives of Surgery, Los Angeles based Trauma Surgeon, Dr Ali Salim, has speculated that the alcohol may reduce the inflammatory response of the body to injury. This raises the “intriguing possibility” that administering it…

A Brewhouse For Bolton

Greater Manchester’s newest brewery is up and running. Well, nearly. The Cheetham Arms on Blackburn Road in Bolton has had a £120,000 makeover and been rebranded as the Brewhouse. As part of the makeover, an onsite brewery has been installed by the indefatigable Porter Brewing Co who apparently now account for 3 out of every 10 new start-ups. This can be viewed through a glass partition.

The new owners are local pubco Welcome Taverns, who have leased the pub from Enterprise Inns who, it will come as no surprise, didn’t have a clue as to what to do with the pub. Welcome was formed in 2006 and they hope to build their estate up to 20 by revamping bottom-end freeholds, all within a ten miles radius of Bolton. Currently they own three other pubs, all of which now serve real ale and quality food. One of these is the nearby, similar sounding, Chetham Arms which with 6 beers on is worth a visit anyway.
The plan for the Brewhouse was for Bank Top founder John Feeney to supervise training and th…

Chin Chin Cher-ee

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Saturday saw us have a little canter out to the Old Hall at Whitehough, near Chinley in scenic Derbyshire. The Old Hall is a “proper pub” dating back to Elizabethan times. Originally licensed as the Red Cow Inn, it eventually became one with the adjacent Old Hall to form the current premises.

A pleasant walk from Chinley train station brought us to the pub and its beer festival. Sadly, not all the advertised beers were on, but it was a major plus to find all those that were, being served via calibrated handpulls into lined glasses. None of that gravity nonsense. And all the beers I tried were in good condition, proving once again that pub festivals are the best.
Arriving for some pre midday drinking also gave us a chance to bag a table in the beer garden. There we could wile away the afternoon untroubled by anything but one of creation’s most annoying beasts: the wasp. We came to the conclusion that it was the WHB’s Obsession For Men that was driving them crazy.
Beer wise, the Phoenix …