Friday, 18 July 2008

The Road to Wigan Beer

CAMRA business took me and my mate Graham to Wigan last night. We checked out two pubs, both Good Beer Guide entries and both convenient for Wallgate Station. First up was the Anvil, oddly enough a Hydes pub, though guest beers from Allgates and Ossett complemented the Hydes offerings. The Anvil is very much a community pub and was buzzing happily when we arrived. What brings me to tell you about this? Well it occurs to me that a tied house of the brewery selling others beers is, when you think of it, an oddity. Why pay a dog and bark yourself as it were? Sam's wouldn't countenance it, nor would Lees. Hydes don't as a matter of course. Most other biggish breweries don't do it either. While my delight at choice was uppermost last night, I just wonder really why any brewery should do this, particularly one like Hydes with a decent cask conditioned range. Nonetheless I enjoyed my Allgates Mild and the 5% Ossett Quicksilver (pale, good body, hoppy and refreshing) though the mild really wasn't a dark mild, but a 3.8% dark bitter which reminded me of Lorimer's (formerly Usher's) Dark Heavy, a beer that hasn't been brewed for over thirty years, but which I sold in the pub I worked in a long time ago! A bit of history for you!

On the way out, we went for a pee. I was a little taken aback at the machine in the gents which (among others things - click on image to scandalise yourself) sold blow up sheep for a fiver. A nice accompaniment to your pie I suppose.

Across the road is the GBG listed Berkley. At first glance it could be a Wetherspoons until you are brought up sharply by the £2.60 pints. We enjoyed suprisingly good Nimmo's XXXX brewed by Cameron's of Hartlepool and Adnam's Explorer while the staff pointedly ignored us and chatted together. You think JDW soulless? This place knocked it into a cocked hat. I can't imagine what it looks like on a Friday night, but then again, I doubt if I'd set foot in Wigan on Friday night. I've seen it on one of these video cop shows. Not pretty!

I know the headline isn't original, but it is new to this blog, so that'll do.


Anonymous said...

Blow up sheep in Wigan? What else can you do there?

John Clarke said...

While Hydes have put some money into the Anvil it is not one of their tied houses,

Tandleman said...

Well THAT explains a lot! It certainly has the outward appearance of a Hyde's house! Thanks John.

YCC - Dubbel said...


A number of smaller brewers are part of a practice of swapping beers with little or no money actually changing hands. This serves to increase awareness of their products outside of their tied houses, bringing their beers to a new market.

One of the head honchos at Dark Star told us how he delivers full casks to other micros around England and brings back the other breweries' beers to sell in his pubs in Sussex. Rather than carting empty barrels around the country by way of return, they simply refill each others' casks again and so the process continues.

I found it astounding that such a medieval style trading of goods still takes place in 2008 but am all for it nonetheless.

Tandleman said...

YCC - I am aware of this practice, but in the case I mention, it is a major regional brewery, though as it turns out, I was talking bollocks about who owned the pub anyway. A bloggers life is never simple.

I agree with your last para wholeheartedly.

JOCKO said...

I hope your mild tasted better than the Ushers beers i used to drink in Dundee in the 1970 approx.Iremember Lorimers beers as being only slightly better. CHEERS JOHN