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

Friday, 27 February 2009

Forever Came Today

Has it really been a year already since the last Forever Bury beer festival? Apparently so. Forever Bury is a fund raising group that aims to put some money in the nearly empty coffers of Bury FC. And one way of doing that is through an annual beer fest. Thursday night was the opening night of this year’s bash and so I made the trek down to Gigg Lane and the Shaker's social club.

It’s £3 in and then beer tokens are purchased. One admirable facet of this scheme is that one £1 token equates to a half of any beer. This easy system does mean you have to keep prices steady, so, dare I say that it seems to have been £2 a pint, er, forever. Last year’s fest had been a good ‘un so I was looking forward to some more of the same.

Unfortunately, it became clear that there were a few technical problems. Most of the beer was on gravity but there were several being dispensed by (unsparkled) handpump. I went for one on the pumps-Whitehaven Ennerdale Blonde, which sounded interesting. Golden Promise malt and a blend of English & Czech Goldings. However, the beer was hazy, flat and warm. There’s obviously a decent beer there, but it was impossible to judge it under those conditions.

Sadly this was not a one off. A fair few beers were plainly green and lacking in condition. But the temperature was the main worry, as the organiser freely admitted. They hadn’t been able to the cool the room beforehand and without any cooling apparatus whatsoever, in a warm social club, the temperature was only ever going to rise. We ended the night hunting for bar towels to wet and put on the casks overnight. I’m back again today and hopefully things will have improved.

Thursday, 26 February 2009

I Will Drink The Wine

Last night’s plans for me to practice my change ringing went straight out of the church tower. Eddie, the eager, legal beagle needed help. Seems he was confused over how many wives Henry VIII actually had. Well, every clever clogs knows he had two. But in the interest of historical accuracy, I agreed to meet him.

We kicked off with a couple in the Hare & Hounds at Holcombe Brook. Bollington Happy Valley (4%), so called after the locals' nickname for Bollington. Although not refreshing enough to be called a session beer, it wasn’t bad and reminded me I must pay the brewery tap a visit. Roosters YPA was, as expected, light and hoppy.

A walk up to the Major led to a surprising discovery. Tandleman had only mentioned Summer Wine Brewery that very day and there on the bar were two beers from said brewery. Elbow Grease (3.8%) was a golden ale, with the merest hint of diacetyl on the nose. Another beer that tasted stronger than its abv, it got better further down the pint and had a satisfyingly dry finish. Holmfirth IPA (4.2%) proved to be the better of the two, though. Pale amber in colour, it did what most IPAs only claim to do-taste like you would expect of this style. There was a good balance of fruit and hops in the mouthfeel and a moreish, dry finish. An impressive effort at a relatively low vol.

Across the road at the First Chop we had Bank Top Flat Cap, before moving on to the Grants Arms. Here it was Moorhouses Premier before a walk down to the Good Sam. Here we had a shock-it was closed. Simply a case of early closing, or something more significant, I know not yet. So it was back to the Grants. This does have the advantage that you can see the last bus go past and even if, as in this instance, it’s ten minutes early; you can dash across the road as it turns round at the terminus. However, very inconvenient if you’re anywhere else along the route. I can feel a complaint to First Bus coming on.

Tuesday, 24 February 2009

Oh Danny Boy(le)

Congratulations to local boy made good, Danny Boyle. He still pops back to visit his dad in Radcliffe, although I suspect his days of popping in to St Mary’s Social Club for an anonymous pint are over. Town Hall bosses are thinking of awarding him a civic honour. Quite right, but I’d like to see Danny Boyle Way, or some such accolade. There’s more than enough places with lorded gentry connections and every second thing has “Derby” in the title.

He’s a cousin of my niece’s husband, but sadly they never kept in contact. So I wasn’t at the official drink fest and had to make do with one of the unofficial ones. I had a case of Brewdog to keep me busy, but it being a special occasion, I kicked off with Stone’s Ruination IPA. This 7.7% IPA heavyweight combines Columbus and Centennial for some serious hop action. It measures over 100 on the IBU scale and certainly gives your palate a battering. Excellent for overwhelming the senses and/or cutting through a good curry.

King Of The Castle?

News at last on the Castle, iconic Manchester boozer and one-time watering hole of a certain beerhound. It's been idle since the sudden departure of its fomer landlord last year, but things are now looking up. Former Corrie actor, Rupert Hill, AKA Jamie Baldwin, is set to take the reins. Apparently he intends to restore it as a "proper boozer." Hmmm. Restore the toliets to working order and you'll be halfway there.

Let Loose In Leeds

Saturday dawned bright but cold. An early start, as once more it was time to brave that wild expanse known as Yorkshire. In particular, Leeds. But just as I was about to leave, the postman arrived with a parcel. Ah, something for me to review. Perhaps some excitingly rare beer? Or perhaps a drinks opus that needs my perusal? Not quite. A Clone Your Willy Kit and a limited edition Platinum Plus Rabbit. Perhaps they knew I was headed for Yorkshire?

Leeds train station is large. Very large. Indeed, it’s the largest (English), station outside of London. Not surprising then that it boasts a Wetherspoons. Not surprising also that this was already busy at 11am. A typical soulless railway pub, although the Saltaire Pale Ale was decent enough. Passing through the concourse W.H.Smith, I could tell I wasn’t in Lancashire anymore-they sell How Do magazine instead of Hello.
It’s several years since I last toured Leeds, so it was natural to start at an old favourite. Sadly, the Scarbrough Hotel was disappointing. Two bouncers outside and a depleted beer range didn’t help. The place has obviously taken a turn for the worse over the years and its dark, now cramped, interior hinted at near terminal decay.
Heading towards my next stop, I just missed catching the free city centre bus. This became something of a trend-I never did catch it. Luckily, Leeds is easily manageable by foot. I couldn’t resist calling in at the Town Hall Tavern as I passed-well it is in the GBG. A smart Timothy Taylors pub, it delivered an excellent pint of the rare Best Bitter. Coming out, the free bus sailed past, complete with some very rough looking passengers waving at me. Time for some more shoe leather.

The Fox & Newt is a brewpub on Burley Street. Tandleman and entourage were already here. Sadly, only one of their own beers was on, Mild, but it wasn’t bad. Next up for me was the Victoria and Family Commercial, which is part of the chain that owns the Bank in Manchester. Hence, some impressive interior details and a good range of beers. Saltaire Trio Pale Ale combined Cascade with Amarillo and Centennial to give a piny, lychee flavour. The “large” fish & chips aren’t worth nearly £10, though.

Mr Foley’s Cask Ale House (great name), had a selection from York and Elland on. York Guzzler was ok, if not quite in best condition. North Bar was a new one to me and surprised me. My expectations had been quite low but this really punches above its weight. It came across as a much better version of the much hyped Bar Fringe in Manchester. The Outlaw Wild Mule (served in barrel glasses) was in top form, with plenty of hops. The bottled beer menu was also very impressive. Sadly no one had the balls (or the wallet), to try the 13% Goose Island Bourbon County Stout.

A bit of a yomp took us down to the Palace on Kirkgate. This was how I remembered it-a long wraparound bar with a good selection of cask (or is that real?) ales to choose from. Time was pushing on, well for those on restrictive train tickets, anyway, so with Archimedes and Pythagoras in tow, I headed for the Midnight Bell.

This is one of the new breed of pubs that have sprung up around the regeneration area. Catering for what used to be called yuppies, it’s smart and contemporary. It’s a Leeds Brewery place and, like all their outlets, serves their own beers and guests. As I drained my freshly poured Leeds Pale, thoughts naturally turned to the next stop. It seemed rude not to call at the Cross Keys-it’s practically next door. This is a sister pub of the North Bar and had a similar vibe to the Midnight Bell. As I sipped my Roosters, I must admit to pangs of envy at two such fine establishments so close to each other and to the railway station. Archimedes meanwhile was distracted by the offer of a Roast Leg of Lamb for £85. When it says it feeds six, it’s obviously not referring to him and Pineapple Pete.

We were just about to head for the station and the Brewery Tap, when we received a summons from Tandleman. He was holding court round the corner at the Grove, a cracking traditional boozer that makes it three excellent pubs in a (short) row. That’s a round that definitely scores Leeds 1 Manchester 0.

The TransPenine train waits for no man, however, and so Tandleman was soon skipping gaily back towards the station. I would have done the same, but Jack & Jill insisted I accompany them to the Brewery Tap for some more beer. This Leeds Brewery outlet is handily placed very close to the station and was naturally very busy on a Saturday night. However, we managed to squeeze in and I tried some Oakham JHB and the excellent Oakham Inferno.

Back at the station I saw Jack & Jill safely off and then returned for a nightcap. But what’s this? There’s another Leeds Brewery outlet-PIN. It took some finding and annoyingly proved to be not far from the Midnight Bell etc. However, it was worth the stagger as it was yet another good find, being ultra-contemporary but with a good drinks selection.

Somehow I managed to get the last train back to Rochdale and with the witching hour calling, there was only one choice. Yes, whisky at the Regal Moon. Well, man does not live by beer alone...

Saturday, 21 February 2009

Judge Not, That You May Be Not Judged

Now we all know that it is dangerous to talk up (or is that down?) the “credit crunch.” Whilst facing reality, too much emphasis on doom and gloom risks the possibility of making it become a self fulfilling prophecy. That’s why I’m glad to see that I’m not the only person to see drink as the perfect investment for our troubled times. Yes, at least one other person seems to believe in drinking their way through the economic gloom.

The person in question is, as yet, an unnamed banker who enjoyed a blowout after the recent Brits awards bash. The papers are full of righteous indignation about his antics, but never once question the socio-economic structure that allows, if not downright encourages, his behaviour. His crime, if it be one, was to run up a £43,000 bar bill at plush Soho club, Maya. Not bad going in three hours. Although, to be fair, he did have four mates along for help.

The booze shopping list included: five £350 bottles of Louis Roederer Cristal 99, three magnums of £1.900 Cristal Rose and two £9000 methuselahs of (naturally), Dom Perignon. They also managed to squeeze in four £750 jeroboams of Belvedere vodka and two jeroboams of Cristal champagne. Add the 15% service charge and you get a bar bill of £43,067.50. No skinflint, he left a £1000 tip for the waitress. A man of principle, he allegedly told people present that “this is for Gordon Brown. Arsehole. You need to wake up and stop panicking Britain.” Yeah, right on, brother.

The cost will probably be reclaimed as a tax credit. It may be wrong, but I find it hard to condemn such behaviour. For I know all too well the lure of the paid for drink. Yes, I once was given ten pounds in expenses. I blew it on 5 pints of Holts Bitter and a packet of Seabrooks crisps. So I say, let he who is without sin cast the first stone.

Friday, 20 February 2009

Under Pressure

According to today’s papers, Brits binge drink because they are high achievers. Prof. Anna van Wersch has conducted a survey and come to the conclusion that “there is a lot of pressure to do well, whilst observing correct behaviour and keeping emotions under control.” So, to let off steam, people get lashed-my phrasing, not the professor’s. And I always thought it was because they like it. Rather tellingly, she noted that in a “dry” culture such as Britain, people abstain during the week and then binge at weekends. In “wet” cultures, such as Holland, they drink with their meals etc and so avoid “binge” peaks.

Unfortunately, the study only involved 20 women and 12 men, so is hardly conclusive. Helpfully, there was also a guide as to what constitutes “binge” drinking. For the record, for men, it’s five consecutive standard drinks in one sitting. Women are only allowed four before they are classed as “binge” drinkers. Hmmm. I must be a binge, binge drinker, then.

And The Winner Is

Of course, having dismissed the Rough Pub Guide, we’re left with the question that I recently had emailed to me. If you’re a stranger in a strange land (strange how “strange” always make me think of London), which guidebook will prove most useful in finding a good boozer?

Now there are a myriad of titles to choose from. However, most are very specific-dining, country pubs etc. And even when they’re not immediately obvious -the AA Pub Guide, for example, a quick flick will reveal their preference. Mostly, as with the AA Pub Guide, they concentrate on food-led pubs. But where to go for a broad selection of pubs?

Now, at first glance, it would appear to be a straight contest between The Good Beer Guide and The Good Pub Guide. And the GPG should, in theory, be on a winner as the GBG may, in some eyes, be too restrictive. Personally, I think a pub needs good beer to be a good pub. And, unlike some bloggers, that doesn’t mean Carling and Guinness. I’ve been to a lot of pubs-an awful lot (shocking I know), over the years and I’ve never found a good pub that doesn’t sell decent beer. There may be one, but I haven’t come across it yet. Some have been decent, but it seems that if they’re not bothered about what they’re serving, they’re not going to bother about the pub generally. And therefore, they’re never going to get into the top flight.

However, it’s not the broad aspect of the GPG that is the problem. No, it’ simply that it’s unreliable and out of date. So is the GBG I hear some smart arse say. Yes, the GBG has faults, but it’s a question of which is the best of the two. The GPG simply hasn’t got the resources to do a decent job. I should know-I used to review for it. Doing it on the cheap, it mainly relies on public input, which goes unchecked, leading to some widely inaccurate entries.

Of course I can only speak for those areas I know well-the North West, but it surely is indicative of the GPG as a whole. Take Manchester, for example. Of the main entries, you’ve got the obvious-the Marble Arch. Fine. But then you’ve got Dukes 92 sat beside it. I helped to get this in some 16 years ago and it’s amazing that it’s still in. What was a cutting edge bar back then is very run of the mill these days. I don’t think you’d find many (anyone?) who’d rate that as one of Manc’s finest these days.

But that’s not the worst of it. The “Lucky Dip” section is exactly that. Under “Manchester” you’ve got pubs that are actually in Whitefield and, worse still, the Crescent and New Oxford that are proudly in the city of Salford. And some of the information is pure fantasy. The Crown & Kettle has “up to eight real ales on.” It certainly hasn’t and never did have. And it’s so dour. Page after page of small, dull type. Not a splash of colour anywhere. The only use for the GPG I can find is as doorstop.

Which leaves us with the GBG. Yes, CAMRA do get it wrong and there are, not always obvious, problems. Such as Manchester City Centre not coming under one central branch. But what they do have is (sometimes) enthusiastic volunteers with local knowledge. Which is priceless. And so, in the absence of a reliable online guide, the GBG wins by a knockout.

Wednesday, 18 February 2009

The Rough Pub Guide

One side effect of having pneumonia is that it gives you time to catch up with all the things you should have done before. Like review books you received before Christmas. So, in a rare piece of “proper” blogging, I shall do just that.

The Rough Pub Guide would appear, at first glance, to be yet another contender in the seemingly lucrative pub guide market. However, on further inspection, its aspirations seem to lie elsewhere. It’s less of a guidebook, more of a homage to the traditional, eccentric British boozer. Yes, there are entries detailing pubs, but there are also asides on pub institutions such as darts and the jukebox. And that’s where, if there are any faults, they lie.

On perusing the guide, you will soon ascertain that it is a book of humour rather than a replacement for the Good Beer Guide. Fine. But surely the title is misleading? Because it’s called the “Rough Pub Guide”, which is very odd. “Rough” to me means, er, rough. As in dodgy, run-down pubs with a potential for violence. Whilst what they actually mean is “traditional” or “quirky.”

The selections themselves seem a bit random. A look at my stomping ground of Manchester reveals two contrasting entries. The Britons Protection-an historical gem to be found in any decent guide, so fair enough. But the Temple of Convenience? It’s not even a pub. It’s a bar that used to be an underground toilet. It certainly ticks the “quirky” box, but, with all of Manchester to go out, I wonder how much research actually went into this book.

Having said all that, the Rough Pub Guide is an entertaining read. Just don’t take it at face value.

Tuesday, 17 February 2009

Any Port(er) In A Storm

I see that Fullers are launching a keg version of their successful London Porter. They have trialled the product in 11 of their managed pubs and are now ready to roll it out into the rest of their tied estate. Why? Is there an unfulfilled demand for keg porter in Boris Johnson land? I would have thought that the majority of punters who bought and appreciated LP did so because it was cask. Certainly a lot of cask drinkers enjoy the full flavour of a good Porter, but I’ve yet to hear of groups of keg drinkers meeting to discuss their merits. Is it intended as a rival for Guinness? In which case, we’ve been here before-history is full of breweries who have tried (and failed), to take a share of that particular pot of Irish gold.

I’m also puzzled by their decision to launch, in March, a new cask ale. It will be under 4% and is described (naturally), as a “quaffing ale.” This is an already crowded market and it will take something very special to make a mark. And isn’t Chiswick Bitter their quaffing ale, anyway? Answers on a postcard.

Monday, 16 February 2009

Sweet Child O' Mine

Now there’s a lot in the papers today about “Babygate”. This is the saga of Eastbourne lad, Alfie Patten who claims to have knocked teenage bike Chantelle Steadman up when he was only 12. I say claims, as two further potential daddies are claiming the credit. DNA tests are being demanded as the potential suspects could apparently number eight. It would be nice to think that this rush to own up was simply a case of taking responsibility for one’s actions. However, I suspect the lure of the wad of money that the Sun is waving and an appearance on Jeremy Kyle is nearer the mark.

There is much hand-wringing and speculation as to the causes of this tragedy. But to me it is obvious. As one of the fathers of the young procreators said, “There’s not a lot for young lads to do round here.” Exactly. Back in the 70’s we had the 3-day week, economic crisis and high unemployment-déjà vu I know, but there were plenty of pubs. Unlike today, where places such as the estates of Eastbourne are beer deserts.

In my day, a twelve old year didn’t have time to be bored. He’d pop down to the Nags Head for some Wilsons Best. Or round to the Brunswick, do his homework and then get tanked up on Samson-quickly and cheaply. There were no thoughts of knicker fumbling. Or if there were, there wasn’t any chance of any. Sadly the decimation of Britain’s pub stock has claimed its latest victim. How long will the government let this go on? Why isn’t UNICEF doing something? We need more traditional pubs and we need them now. For the sake of the kiddies.

Sunday, 15 February 2009

Big Green(e) Country

I am the shocked recipient of an email from Greene King. Not, as might be thought, a threat of litigation, but rather an invitation. Yes, the Head of Communications, no less, has sent me a very nice email inviting me to visit the brewery. Seems someone pointed him in the direction of this blog and my musings on GKIPA. I’m unlikely to be in deepest Suffolk in the near future, but a brewery invite is always nice-even if it’s from Greene King. After all, I’ve braved Lees, Leyden and Mayflower before now.

Friday, 13 February 2009

100 Not Out

Congratulations to Vera Ghey, landlady of The Bull’s Head in Callington, Cornwall. For having reached the grand age of 100, she has become Britain’s oldest landlady. Now some sources are playing it safe and using words like “apparently”, but, sod it, I’m going to stick my neck out and say she IS Britain’s oldest landlady. And let’s not be sexist-I’m willing to bet she’s actually Britain’s oldest licensee. In reaching a century not out, Vera overtakes the late Mabel Mudge who threw the towel in at 99. However, if she wants to become the longest serving landlord, she still has a bit to do yet. Mabel put in an impressive 75 years as landlady, whilst Vera has only clocked up (so far), a measly 60 years. Here’s to the next 15.

Thursday, 12 February 2009

A Taste Foir Thwaites

Tuesday night saw a disparate group of drinkers-including Tandleman and Eddie, the eager, legal beagle brave the cold night air of Ramsbottom. Lancashire brewer Thwaites had created some test brews and wanted volunteers to give some feedback. Or that’s what we were led to believe, anyway. As it turned out, the experience was much more mundane than we’d hoped for.

The Rose & Crown was already busy when we arrived. Seems anyone could walk just walk in and take part-so much for selected taste panels. And they weren’t trialling new beers either. Our table of three got four halves amongst us, only one of which turned out to be a Thwaites beer. The other three beers turned out to be the likes of Deuchars and Greene King, although this wasn’t revealed till after the tasting. Seems what they wanted was simply an indication as to what beers people liked to drink. Of course, they could have simply asked-but that would have been too simple. The marketing people obviously thought a pointless charade preferable.

And, to add insult to injury, the reward for dragging yourself up the hill on a Tuesday night was the chance to then purchase Greene King, Deuchars at £2 a pint. With Golden Pippin on sale for £2 down at the Good Sam, this didn’t seem like such a bargain. We were then presented with the hardest beer quiz I’ve ever had-Stopwatch Sid stand aside-but our pride remained intact as we swept to victory. As Tandleman made his way back to Tandleman Towers, the stragglers settled in the Grants for some Moorhouses and a chance to reflect on a rather odd evening.

Monday, 9 February 2009

Love & Marriage

Big celebrity news of the week is that Bertie Bassett has got a girlfriend. The popular mascot of Liquorice Allsorts has been single for 80 years, but the times they are-a-changing. Cadburys’ have announced that Bertie is to be joined by girlfriend, Bettie Bassett. Now, I’m happy for Bertie, but I am slightly confused. If they’re not married, why is she called Bettie Bassett? Are they cohabiting and she has taken his name? Surely they’re not kissing cousins? Before the News of The World gets involved, I think we should be told.

Update: Bertie has married Bettie in a hurriedly arranged ceremony in Sheffield. Cadburys claim that the press release was a mistake and that Bettie has only just become a Bassett. Meanwhile the internet is full of speculation that the marriage is just a sham. Will Bettie ever get her hands on Bertie's allsorts?

When Lancashire Meets Germany

When is a weisse beer not a weisse beer? When it’s Leydenweisse. Yes local brewer Leyden are continuing their German theme with this Lancashire twist on a German style. Following the less than successful Leydenbrau, this is a very pale beer with an old egg aroma. Luckily the beer doesn’t taste as bad as it smells and, if anything, is too bland. Certainly it doesn’t resemble any weisse beer I’ve ever had.

Still, it’s an improvement on the infamous Leydenhosen. This was an early Leyden attempt at a continental style and premiered at the Hare & Hounds festival. It was an unforgettable beer-closely resembling line cleaner and remains the strangest beer I’ve ever tasted. The mere mention of it brings a grimace to the face of those in the know. The landlord still has the pumpclip and for those who think it’s an urban myth, here it is.

Sunday, 8 February 2009

Night And Day

Friday afternoon traditionally means a drink. And I’m a big believer in tradition. Hence I found myself enjoying a lunchtime drink in the throbbing metropolis of Manchester. First stop was the Waterhouse-an upmarket (read more expensive) Wetherspoons. Annoyingly they had given over extra space to Greene King IPA as part of their sad promotion scheme. Luckily Titanic Iceberg was also on. This proved crisp and refreshing-a good start to the day’s activities.

A short walk took me to the faded grandeur of the Athenaeum. The owners have definitely got it wrong with this place. Situated at the heart of the banking and business part of the town, they should be aiming for the suits and Telegraph brigade. Instead you have 2 meals for £5-it’s not often Wetherspoons is made to look expensive and a distinct air of decay prevails. Although the Youngs was fine, the place was pitifully empty. And freezing as well-not a radiator, or open fire in sight.

No such problem at the Bank. This had the Friday afternoon buzz about it, with a mix of office workers dining and drinking. The winter sun was giving comfort to the smokers outside, with one particularly hardy Manchester lass opting for just a sleeveless top and shorts. As she said, it saves you getting changed for clubbing later. Unfortunately, Adnams East Green had gone, so I plumped for Hydes Insulation. It commemorates the work of LS Lowry, but although there was a hint of Goldings in the taste, overall it was pretty dull.

Breaking away from tales of woe from some lady bankers, Holdens Golden Glow was tried next. It was quite palatable, but the Fuggles struggled to hold back the sweetness. Nearly time for my evening rendezvous, but just time for a quickie in Piccadilly Kro. This light, glass fronted bar, caters for the trendies, but can (sometimes) deliver on the cask front. Today, it had Theakstons, Deuchars and Landlord on. The Landlord was very lively and went down well, although the £3+ pint takes some getting used to. Passing the still closed Castle, it was straight on to the Marble Arch.

Going via Mason Street, you encounter the sadly derelict Hat & Feathers. The sign still proclaims Holts Bitter for £1.40, but it’s a long while since any beer was served here. Any connection between Tandleman stopping going there and its demise is purely coincidental, we’re led to believe.

At 4pm the Marble was unusually quiet, but handy for grabbing a table near the bar. As I awaited the arrival of Archimedes etc I tried Broughton’s Clipper IPA. This proved disappointing-another example (at 4.2%) of what an IPA shouldn’t be. It did have some bitterness, but overall it was watery and not a good illustration of the style. Much better was the Durham Magus-bursting with zesty hops and which went down quicker than the Bank of England’s lending rate. I stuck to that until we moved onto the Angel.

Here there was a new Dunham Massey beer for me. Milk Stout had a lovely rich black texture and certainly had the sweetness I associate with this style. Unfortunately, it’s one of those where one is probably enough, so we headed back to Bury. The Trackside had a mixed bag on-Boggart, Leyden etc but nothing too exciting, so we decided to bow out with cider. We were in for a shock. Thatchers Cheddar Valley is no more.

Dean has replaced with Bristol Port. This isn’t bad, being full of apples on the nose, but is no substitute for Cheddar Valley. CV is a classic, having taken drinkers up and down the land by surprise with its deceptive taste. Who can forget Eddie losing control of his legs and having to be manhandled into a taxi after a night’s imbibing? Or Don Ricardo sleeping in Wetherspoons doorway after drinking everyone’s dregs. It feels like a part of our heritage has gone-where’s the National Trust when you need them?

Thursday, 5 February 2009

Sticking It To The Man

The row over Oldham’s favourite nightclub, Tokyo rages on. After its successful “January Sale” £5.99 booze till you puke promotion, it has plans to do the same for February. Why change a winning formula? Apoplectic authoritarian figures have been left gritting their teeth as it’s all above board. All the puking, fighting etc took place outside the club with apparently no trouble inside.

And it has found an unlikely champion in local top cop, Caroline Bell. Chief Superintendent Bell has been quoted as saying “irresponsible reporting' of the drinks offer had made the problem worse.” I’m sure that’s true. Apparently they turned away 250 out-of-towners last Friday. Would this problem have arisen if the Daily Liar and other newspapers had not given them so much free PR? I doubt it. After all, usually people are in a hurry to get out of Oldham, not hiring a coach to get them there.

But Tokyo is not the only place bucking the trend and seeing alcohol sales boom. Seems guests of Her Majesty’s pleasure are also enjoying more of their illicit hooch. Anne Owers, HM Chief Inspector of Prisons has warned of an “epidemic of alcohol misuse” unless steps are taken. Don’t hold your breath-this government’s idea of policy is draft a new law (average one a day since 1997), jail more people, release more people early as jails are full, draft a new law etc etc. When you think of it, gaol is the natural place for a booze up. No worries about last orders and not far to stagger to your bed. However, it’s not all a bed of homemade potato vodka. Seems the credit crunch is hitting prisoners as well, with the price of a shot now up to 3 ciggies. How long before Wetherspoons opens its first jail outlet???

Smoke Gets In Your Eyes

More good news. Alcohol is not the only commodity to see an increase in demand. It appears that people are heeding the message to help the economy and buy British. Yes, police are reporting a threefold rise in seizures of home grown cannabis. Truly a case of grow it and they will smoke it.

Tuesday, 3 February 2009

My Kingdom For A Snow Plough

How we chuckled today. Mighty London coming to a standstill because of snow. Chief Village Idiot, I mean, Mayor of London, Bonking Boris, came out with some belting excuses as to why it couldn’t be helped. Basically it would cost money and, after all, it’s not his job to improve people’s lives. Still, presumably the numpties who voted for him realised that, so as the old maxim goes, you get the government you deserve. Needless to say, oop North, the buses ran and the pubs were open. What more can you ask for?

Mating Habits Of The Nicotine Fiend

I found myself in the watering holes of Rochdale on Saturday. Luckily, they proved up to the task, with only The Reed letting the side down by running out of Cocker Hoop. Come mid evening and I was enjoying the beers in the Regal Moon. This is a very large Wetherspoons handily placed for the bus station. As Wetherspoons go, it’s good, with an enviable selection of beers. And so large, that even on a Saturday night in a one horse town like Rochdale, there were seats going spare. Which brings us to the social habits of the modern smoker.

After spotting a likely booth, I settled down for an evening of interesting conversation. Now there were full drinks on the table, but this being busy Spoons, I didn’t think anything of it. As it turns out, there was also a note amongst the clutter, which went unnoticed. Unnoticed that is until two shivering smokers returned and pointed it out. I was somewhat surprised by this and wondered if it’s now common practice. They were very trusting (or naive) to leave two full drinks on a Saturday night in a Wetherspoons. If they do need to go for a nicotine fix together, surely it would be better to empty most of their drinks first? Or go in-between drinks? Since there were spare tables, including some nearer the smoking area, there didn’t seem any need to “reserve” a table. Unless they had a favourite Wetherspoons table. Which would be just downright weird.

As an aside, when peopItalicle complain about late night TV being all crap, they’re just not staying up late enough. Despite a long day’s drinking, an ill-advised late curry and a very late whisky finale in Bury, I found myself unable to sleep. Now there was a fair amount of rubbish on, but there, at 330am, was a diamond in the rough-Hill St Blues. Quality is quality at any time.