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.
A bit of a CV. Tandleman is a veteran beer lover, local CAMRA Chairman and activist, beer author, 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. He admires good brewers wherever they are and has travelled extensively in pursuit of good beer to drink.
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