Now that I am more or less over my bout of flu or whatever it was, I felt the need to get out. Where to? Rochdale seemed like a plan, it being on a direct bus route, so Rochdale it was. The Baum is in the 2009 Good Beer Guide and rightly so. The beer is well looked after and the place is terrific, with a sort of wine bar meets beer bar feel. It is in Toad Lane, the heart of the preservation area and one door up from the shop where the Rochdale Pioneers kicked off the co-operative movement in 1844. There's a bit of history for you! Now I am usually unlucky here. Whenever I go in I find the beers not to my liking, while looking wistfully at the pumpclip collection showing what I have missed and the notice board showing what is to come, all more appealing than the current offering. Yesterday was a little different. Greenfield Black Five was dark, malty with a distinct finishing hop bite and Hornbeam Hard Rock IPA while by no stretch of the imagination an IPA, was bitter, full bodied and very drinkable despite being 4,6%. A complete shock was that there was a drinkable Boggart beer on. I wasn't daft enough to stump up for it of course, but the barmaid gave me a decent enough sample. Stand up and be counted, Boggart - at last! Pixie Pale is hoppy, aromatic, tasty and only 3.4%. Nice! Do visit the Baum if you can, the beers were at the peak of cask conditioning and it is a very nice place indeed.
I couldn't leave Rochdale without trying another couple of GBG pubs. The Flying Horse had excellent Phoenix Arizona and a new one for me. Although Green Mill Brewery is in my branch area, I have never got my hands on any. Thus the chance to try Cobra Crystal Wheat Beer was welcome. It didn't disappoint, being spicy nosed and fairly bitter. In the JDW Regal Moon my choice was Bateman's Gold which had the usual Bateman's "house" taste lifted by excellent biscuity malt and a distinct hoppy finish. I finished with a fantastic strong mild. It was sensational, with a deep chocolate malt body and a vanilla finish. Pity I can't remember for the life of me who brews it!
Did I get a bad pint? Well I did, but congratulations first. Both the Baum and the Regal Moon served beers in absolutely perfect condition, at the right temperature and correctly through a tight sparkler. It is such a delight when you come across that. And the bad? Two actually. Both from Hornbeam Brewery whose Hard Rock IPA I had enjoyed in the Baum. Top Hop was at best OK if you were feeling really, really generous and Lemon Blossom was probably as bad a beer as I have had this year. Think of a cross between packet lemon meringue pie and citrus toilet cleaner and you'll be near. Drink for curiosity purposes only!
A bit of a CV. Tandleman is a veteran beer lover, local CAMRA Chairman and activist, beer writer, beer reviewer and pursuer of all things good in beer. He lives in the North West of England and London. Despite his CAMRA membership, he does not limit himself to cask conditioned beer, though he believes that cask conditioning, when done correctly and appropriately, brings a quality to beer that is hard to equal by any other kind of presentation. He is a strong supporter of Northern methods of beer dispense and avidly detests poorly presented beer and dislikes pasteurisation. He regularly visits Germany, has conducted corporate British and German beer tastings for CAMRA at the Great British Beer Festival where he has worked for years on Biere Sans Frontieres and was Deputy Organiser at CAMRA's very successful National Winter Ales Festival in 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2012 and at the Manchester Beer and Cider Festival from 2013 to date. He admires good brewers wherever they are and has travelled extensively in pursuit of good beer to drink.
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