Tuesday, 6 August 2013

The Cheshire Set


Ah leafy Cheshire. One of the few places that can match London, to some extent at least, for sheer wealth, but with lovely pubs that aren't charging four quid a pint. Now an old mate of ours CAMRA wise, moved there ten years ago, thus bringing the tone down considerably, but was on hand to lead a merry throng through some of its nicer parts.  We started in Goostrey, a quiet and genteel little village within sight of the giant parabola that is Jodrell Bank.  The Crown is a neat pub that was Marstons owned until not so long ago, but now, free of tie, is thriving and has a wide range of mostly local beers.  It is a well appointed pub (a recurring theme that day) and looked the kind of place that you'd like to have handy, with well kept beer, friendly staff (another recurring theme) and prices that were not unreasonable.  An unusual touch was Wrexham Lager on the bar along with free olives - well we were in Cheshire. I didn't care that much for my Summer Days from Dunham Massey, though E enjoyed it and our Tasting Panel Chairman waxed lyrical about it, showing that beer will always divide opinion. I switched to Weetwood Bitter which was old fashionedly good.

It is amazing what a couple of pints will do to loosen the inhibitions of a busload of lushes.  It was a very cheery throng indeed that wended its way to our next stop,the Railway at Mobberley where lunch was to be eaten.  We were additionally guided by one of my predecessors as Branch Chairman who hails from this neck of the woods.  He was greeted enthusiatically by the landlady who remembered him.  A nice touch. This ex Greenall's pub was not that posh, but busy enough even without our 25 or so. The beer was on good form, but the choice not to everyone's taste. Dunham Massey - they seem to have Cheshire tied up - Black Sheep and Wainwright's leading the charge.  Lunch was filling, but hurried, though the craic was excellent as always on these dos. Our next journey was a quick one, a mere five minutes or so to the delightful Church Inn also in Mobberley, a lovely pub with a nice beer terrace at the back and again, that very friendly and cheery service that so typified the day. Beers were again local with yes, you've guessed, Dunham Massey and Tatton breweries featuring.

The poshness was dialed up considerably next.  We knew when our bus entered the car park amid open topped Porsches, Jaguars and the odd Bentley, that this would not be a dump. The Bull's Head, like the previous Church Inn, is part of Cheshire Cat Pub and Bars.  It had recently been done up to an exceedingly high standard and had a beautiful beer garden at the back, bathed in sunshine and with splendid views of aircraft taking off from Runway Two at nearby Manchester Airport.  This was a very enjoyable stop and again the staff couldn't have been nicer and we left with considerable reluctance.  Beer? Dunham Massey and Tatton featured of course.  Across the way, we noted, the closed and being renovated Roebuck. Owned it seems by a big PubCo, there was rumours of a licensee being hounded out by high rent. True or not, the pub had been closed for weeks, thus missing our finest summer for years. Mistake.

Our final stop was again in lovely countryside. The Parkgate at Over Peover is owned by Sam Smith. Again a delightful little pub with a huge beer garden and of course, providing you stick to the basics, cheap beer.  Old Brewery Bitter at £1.80 a pint was eagerly consumed in the sunshine and was good.  E and I had the bonus of bumping into Jeff, our friend and drinking companion from our local, who was visiting friends in the area.  It's a small world.

So Mobberley and area for a pub crawl?  Certainly, but a liking for Dunham Massey beer would be a considerable advantage.

I wonder if the outstandingly high level of service is because of the general affluence?  It was remarkable and all the more welcome for its relative rareness.

Greenall's Mild?  OK smooth, but joining that world of rare beers from the past. 

20 comments:

Cooking Lager said...

Old Brewery Bitter at £1.80 a pint, now you're talking fella. Throw in a spoons at £1.65( + beard token) and you have piss up.

Curmudgeon said...

In the wider scheme of things surely there's much to be said for a brewery having strong distribution in its local area. And it could be worse - it could have been Coach House, Storm or Northern/Blakemere.

The Bird in Hand is an excellent San Smith's pub right in Mobberley itself. The Railway is a decent boozer too and more down to earth than most of the rest in the village.

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Tandleman said...

Mudgie: It is a good thing generally, but as you've said before you need to have a mix.

Benjamin Nunn said...

Dunham Massey do a decent range of beers - if there's a selection of them across the local pubs I can't see that much to complain about.

Sam 'Just the One' Smiths, OTOH...

Benjamin Nunn said...

In fact, I don't know about anybody else, but I think I hate Sam's for only brewing one cask beer even than I dislike brewers who don't do any cask at alll.

It's the sheer tokenism of it. Contemptuous and dismissive bone-throwing to their stereotypical view of a real ale drinker. The sense that they don't really want to do it at all but want to be able to make some claims about OBB's longevity and continuity.

Tandleman said...

Dunham Massey are decent, but hardly more than that. Sam's are Sam's.

Tyson said...

The curse of Locale strikes again. Dunham Massey: dull as dishwater. This is one of those trips where the choice would have actually been better in the past.

Cooking Lager said...

Sams do more than OBB, Ben. They have a range of cheap as chip pisswater to get mashed on. I find the taddy lager at £2.08 but 4.5% abv offers a lower per unit price to get mullered on than OBB.

Dimpled Mug said...

I don't find Dunham massey beers dull as dishwater, infact i find them rather nice. Most of them are based on old recipes ; Little Bollington - Boddingtons . The darker beers are very good, light and dark mild , milk stout is excellent. rather have theany of the above than JW Lees. Tis all about individual tastes and opinions

Tyson said...

They may be based on old recipes but that does not make them good. Little Bollington is nothing like Boddingtons. As always with poorer brewers, their dark beers are better simply because their other beers are terrible. Their IPA range is a joke and they appear never to have heard of hops. It is only their Locale/cheap status that gets them on so many bars.

Curmudgeon said...

Very often the success of micro-breweries seems to depend on them being good at the business side of things more than actually brewing distinctive beer.

I don't know if Dunham Massey's prices are particularly cheap but they have capitalised effectively on their local connections.

If customers keep drinking them, then they must be doing something right, and it's possible that in pubs majoring on dining trade that something rather inoffensive goes down better.

Sue said...

I think you'll find that Summer Days is actually Summer Meadow. A little more variety in the beers would have been welcome - agree with Tyson on the Locale issue. The Railway's food service was woeful - an hour to get a sandwich? And personally I couldn't understand why some people actually volunteered to drink Sam's when there was a beer festival on at the pub down the road!

Cooking Lager said...

£1.80, Sue, £1.80

Tandleman said...

Thanks Sue. I was a bit unsure of the beer's name, so faulty recall corrected.

Benjamin Nunn said...

I've realised that I'm basing my view of DM on a grand total of just two of their beers - the regular mild, which I considered a good example of the North West style and the chocolate cherry version, which is the only one of their beers that ever seems to appear down this end of the country.

No trace of them when I was in Manc/Lancs the other week either.

Professor Pie-Tin said...

I thought of this blog while passing a city-centre pub in Ireland yesterday and noticed a sign which said "Recession-busting prices. All pints €4"
That's around £3.50 a pint for " recession-busting prices."
And it wasn't even in Temple Bar either.

Tandleman said...

One man's recession buster is clearly another's "How Much?"

Phil said...

Dunham do about five really good beers, most of them over 5%. For some reason, though, they also do a huge range of beers in the 3.5-4.5% range, none of which I'd recommend. It's a real shame when the brewery's obviously capable of so much better. I guess people must be buying them.

Rob Nicholson said...

I assume this wasn't a CAMRA trip because at which point the local chairman (me!) would remind you about the memo reminding branches to inform the local branch when visiting their area. Not that we remember to do it the other way on many occasions! ;-)