Like much of the population, I've got a cold. Not one of these streaming horrors, but one that just lurks there making you feel a bit off and sore throaty, but not by any means ill. However, apart from a quick trip to the quiz match, I haven't been out this week, or had a pint. A quick phone call to my mate Graham corrected this anomaly and for a change it was Rochdale, not the Northern Quarter, that was our destination.
The Baum has only been a pub for 30 years and is flourishing. It sells a varied range of beers and importantly, it keeps them well, so we entered with eager anticipation. Phoenix was on the bar, so all was well. Here's a thing for you to know. It doesn't actually matter that much which Phoenix is available. Like potatoes, in the McCains's ad, they're all good. This particular Phoenix was Pale Moonlight and I'm guessing you know already that it is pale and hoppy, but in this case with a very firm malt base which holds the whole thing together very nicely indeed. Simon the owner proffered an ominous word of caution though. "I think it's near the end." Damn. Before we finished our perfect pints, another couple of pints pulled for others saw it off. So what next? Dark Star Espresso Stout of course. This was a rare chance to have this fabulous beer served through a tight sparkler, emphasising the coffee and coal dust notes. Lovely stuff.
In the Regal Moon (voted on Sunday as Wetherspoon Cask Ale Pub of the Year) the line up was mouth watering for a man in severe need of refreshment. More Phoenix on the bar included the strong Wobbly Bob and despite the temptation of Elland, Milestone and others, Phoenix it had to be; this time in the tantalising shape of Flash Flood. It didn't disappoint, with a very hoppy finish to a very enjoyable beer. However man does not live by Phoenix alone, though of course he could, beer wise at least, so good is the range. Next up for the full pint treatment, after some tastings, was Adnams Yuletide, with spiciness throughout, which suits the distinctive Adnams yeast so well. This divided opinions though, with Graham and Steve the cellarman being unconvinced. Trust me on this one, it is good. Having seen that off down red lane, one more had to be sampled before the 17 bus and so it came to pass, that for the first time in two years (it wasn't brewed last year), I had a Lees Plum Pudding. This dry, fruity, bittersweet beer is one you either like or don't. I do and the good news is that it will be on in my local soon. Seek it out on the guest trail and do ask for it to be sparkled.
So there we have it. An ordinary drinking session in Rochdale and some tip top beers and tip top tips. Drink any of them. You won't be disappointed.
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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