What has Admiral Lord Nelson got to do with Rochdale? Nothing it seems, other than I suppose being a national hero a long time ago. So the Nelson Hotel in Rochdale, we can safely assume, is not actually connected to the one armed sea dog, but his likeness adorns the pub's sign nonetheless. Until fairly recently it seems, the pub was run for many years, until his death, by a motor bike loving landlord who loved the TT races. I often wondered as I went by on the bus, why the pub flew the Manx flag, but now I know. Pubs can be interesting that way.
Anyway in pursuance of my endeavour of visiting (or visiting again in some cases) every Sam Smith pub in my CAMRA Branch area, I popped in on Wednesday night. First problem was actually getting in. The door and passageway was blocked by an old geezer on a mobility scooter of bus like dimensions. There was a bit of a stand off as we both considered the problem. He wasn't about to move and clambering over him would have been undignified, so I grabbed his handlebars and dragged him out onto the pavement. Well I considered it, but he (somewhat reluctantly) turned his chair a little sideways and I scrambled around him with great difficulty and entered the inner sanctum.
It turned out to be quite a nice little boozer, with the bar facing you as you come in, a room on each side, one of which was nicely appointed, with a roaring fire and two old Asian gents, each dressed in a shalwar kameez, who appeared to have come in for a warm. Drinkless, they were arguing loudly in their native language. Kind of unusual even though this is a pretty Asian dominated area. Inside the bar was another roaring open fire. Not often you see two in such close proximity. Even more so since there was only one other old codger within, soon to be joined by the door guardian who nearly ran his pal down as he reversed up the passageway into the bar, giving his companion's table a resounding knock as he did so. A few frank words in Lancastrian were exchanged, concluding with the traditional "Fuck Off."
No real ale here, so instead the somewhat 1970s illuminated plastic boxes favoured by Sams, showed three lagers, a mild, Keg Old Brewery Bitter and a cider. I chose Double Four, but there wasn't any, so Taddy Lager it was, pleasant enough in its own way and a mere £2.20 a pint. Very reasonable for a 4.5% beer.
As I stood at the bar I surveyed the pub and decided I liked it. It was how pubs used to be and I reckon with a few in, it would be great fun. I remarked to the barmaid who was busy putting more fuel on the fires that I wouldn't like her coal bill. Wisely she observed that as she was only the part time barmaid, that wasn't her problem. "Fair enough" I thought as I basked in the heat, taking in some rather good old photos of Rochdale and a decent tiled image of a sailing ship in the passageway.
Before I left my Asian companions did, and as I supped up, thanked the barmaid and departed, only the two old Rochdalians remained. I could still hear them arguing as I walked down the road to the Regal Moon and Draught Bass.
I am pretty sure there is quite a step into this pub. God knows how the guy on the scooter got in.
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. He also judges beer at both the International Beer Challenge and the World Beer Awards.
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