A roaring coal fire, a busy little bar with banter flowing, comfy bench seating and a living room like atmosphere probably tells you that the pub is owned by Samuel Smith. Add in a dismal, rain sodden Bank Holiday Monday and all you have to worry about is whether the locals will welcome you, ignore you, or just be puzzled by your presence. Read on and all will be revealed.
The Slip Inn in deepest Milnrow is rather a neat little pub from the outside. Even as the rain battered down, it had an air of cheerful permanence that belied the weather. Solidly stone built, unusually it didn't have bay windows on each side of the front door, but two smaller ones apiece, rather like a schoolchild's drawing. A small corridor - and it is pretty damn small here - reveals a couple of dinky little rooms off to the left, one with a smouldering coal fire and one without and the bar ahead of you, facing the main room which is comfortable with solid cast iron tables, bench seating and assorted regulars, all watched over by a rather diminutive barmaid who greeted us civilly enough. The customers did their best to ignore us, but you could tell that our presence there puzzled them somewhat. And why wouldn't it? What indeed were we doing there at all? I can empathise with that sentiment. We could hardly have been on holiday after all and did kind of stick out a bit. OK. A lot.
Sadly there was no mild, dark or light on the bar. While E took a seat, I could have chosen Sovereign, OBB (keg) Stout and on the lager side, Double Four, Alpine or Taddy Lager. I ordered the stout while E plumped for a half of Taddy Lager. The locals resumed their banter which had died down slightly. There was a spot of minor effing and jeffing, but the barmaid shushed that from time to time. The edicts of Humphrey on this subject, clearly displayed on the usual notice, were being taken much more in the breach than the observance, but it was low level harmless stuff. Banter was of the "Where's so and so?" and the like, but mostly it was just the easy familiarity of those who had known each other for years and could readily pass the time with one another. One fellow seemed the ringleader of the denizens, but was a bluff, pleasant sort. In fact everyone was just enjoying themselves harmlessly. The accents were rural Rochdale - sort of Lancastrian - but not quite. The fire - no shortage of coal when Humph is paying - emitted a fearsome radiated heat, causing one woman to suddenly rise and flee. In response to enquiries, she remarked about being boiled alive. It was a fair point and she lurked about, not quite sure where to go, while we, a bit further away, just enjoyed it.
As time ticked on, one or two left and one or two arrived. One customer was ribbed for his need to leave to be home for his tea, promptly at five, but he shrugged that off easily enough. It was all pretty easy going and while nobody spoke to us, nobody was remotely unpleasant. Around five o'clock the excitement of the early leaver was augmented by a barmaidy shift change. A few pleasantries were exchanged and the job was done. Everything lurched on much as before. My stout was fine. A bit like Guinness with actual stout characteristics. You know, roast barley, hops, malt. That sort of thing. E enjoyed her Taddy, though she would have preferred Pure Brewed which wasn't available.
Much to the astonishment of our fellow drinkers, we had another. I topped my glass up with further half of stout, while E, daringly, had a Double Four which she pronounced as inferior to Taddy. So now you know.
We left shortly after, no doubt to the relief of the others. Would I hurry back? No. Was it unpleasant? Not at all.
I wonder what Humphrey's coal bill is like? He seeems to allow generous use of it.
What about bottles I hear you ask. Didn't spot any. Also if you want to get there by bus, all required info is on the photo if you look hard enough.
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.
This blog mentions specifics; pubs and beer, good and bad. The opinions will be forthright, but you can always disagree, just don't be offended. Comments from those mentioned are particularly welcome and a right of reply is hereby offered.
Read my information and links and then decide for yourself. You don't have to be Sherlock Holmes.
If you wish to email me you can do so by using this address: tandleman[at]yahoo.co.uk
These are the life blood of any blog. Please feel free to comment. I do not practice censorship if you stick to the point, but personal insults are frowned upon and may result in deletion. Anonymous entries may have the piss taken out of them or be deleted.
Beer samples are welcome, but I cannot guarantee a good review. You, the brewer, on the other hand can.
I do not currently accept adverts on this site, but if you feel so inclined, make me an offer. If you wish me to wear your brewery stuff, great. XXL please
The contents of this blog represent the personal views of the author only. They do not represent CAMRA policy in any way whatsoever.
The contents of this site and individual articles may not be reproduced in whole without the express permission of the author and will require an appropriate credit. Extracts may be reproduced with a credit to the author.