Wednesday, 7 May 2014

Forty Years in the GBG


The Good Beer Guide is, depending on your predilections either a worthless and outdated way of telling you where you'll find good real ale, or, on the other hand,  a vademecum, without which you'd never venture out of your home territory on an amber nectar seeking mission. Either way there is little doubt that pubs and breweries value their entry in it greatly and competition to gain entry is very fierce indeed.  It is therefore most unusual to have the same pub in it for forty years - just one short of the maximum possible - very rare indeed in fact, with around six others nationwide in the same enviable position.

Thus it was I was called to the Cross Keys in Uppermill to present a certificate to the current licensees to mark this milestone.  The Cross Keys is up a very steep hill from Uppermill Village and is owned by JW Lees.  Splendidly traditional, with stone flagged floors, it was built in 1745 on the Marsden Packhorse route over the Pennines and became a pub in 1763.  It sells rather a comprehensive range of Lees beers and in addition, is home to many different groups including the Oldham Mountain Rescue Team, a Ukelele Club and of course a folk music one. Really a traditional pub at the heart of its local community. The place was packed with CAMRA members, representatives of Lees Brewery and of course locals.  It was a very jolly scene on a lovely sunny afternoon.

In my speech I remarked that the award was a tribute not only to the current licensees, but those before them in the previous forty years. I pointed out how hard it is to get in the guide in the first place and the remarkable difficulty of persuading local members year after year of the case for entry.  I highlighted the importance to the community of such pubs and their service to local people.  It was one of those moments that makes being the Branch Chairman an absolute pleasure. It was equally pleasurable to talk to the licensees. That's essential if you are to do your CAMRA job properly.  I tried two beers.  Lees Brewer's Dark, a fine mild, was a rare treat in cask format and the seasonal, Hoptimist lived up to it name.

The beers were in superb condition.  I expected no less.

Lees kindly bought us all a pint. Cheers for that.

7 comments:

ErlangerNick said...

Lovely.

Cooking Lager said...

40 years of free buffets? (and the odd free beer?) Well played, fella. Nice one.

Paul Bailey said...

Looks like my sort of pub. Not sure whether I've been there or not, as I did occasionally venture out that way during my time as a student in Greater Manchester, but it was a long time ago!

RedNev said...

The Roscoe in Liverpool has also been every GBG, and I can't help wondering whether some CAMRA branches may nowadays be inclined to relax their criteria in order to have one of the "Magnificent Seven" in their branch. I can't see any of them being dropped now - not after 40 years - unless they scrap real ale altogether. Still, the Cross Keys does look good.

Tandleman said...

Who are you and what have you done with RedNev. The real RedNev would never be up this time of the morning!

Tandleman said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
RedNev said...

TM: I hadn't gone to bed yet when I wrote my comment.