Yet more ticks from Mild Magic 2012, Stockport and Manchester CAMRA’s annual effort to promote mild, concentrating this time on the Stockport end of things. (Here’s the map.)
The first thing that struck me about Stockport was how close together the pubs are; I got round the Swan with Two Necks, the Tiviot, the Baker’s Vaults and the Arden Arms in 45 minutes flat. All four of them served Robinson’s 1892, the beer formerly known as Hatter’s – and, like its Hyde’s near-namesake, now sold without any reference to the word ‘mild’. (This is quite a new development; the landlady in the Tiviot told me the pump clip had been changed the previous day.) It’s not the most exciting beer – nor indeed should it be – but as a bitterish light mild it’s a nice drop. As for the pubs, the Swan’s a nice
big multi-room old-style pub and served the nicest beer of the four. The Tiviot was a close second on both counts. The Baker’s Vaults is a rock’n'roll toilet; definite pitch for a particular clientele, beer not great. As for the Arden, the beer was OK (I was very tempted by the Black Beauty but stuck to the 1892); the pub was nice enough, but it has a very strong food orientation these days – I was even greeted by the landlord as I stood at the bar, the assumption apparently being that anyone on their feet must be waiting to “be seated”. My food needs had already been taken care of – passing Titterton’s I’d picked up a roast pork barm for my lunch and a “Stockport beef pie” for Ron – so I stood at the bar and drank up. Another time I might come to the Robinson’s pubs a bit later in the day and stretch to a second half, perhaps even the Old Tom (which all four pubs had on draught, and which is, after all, one of my favourite beers in the world). As it was, a half of 1892 (a 946?) was the order of the day.
It is a truth universally acknowledged that a man who has sunk two pints of Robinson’s light mild must be on the lookout for something more interesting, and I found it at the Railway in Portwood (otherwise known as “that parade of shops on the other side of the main road from the retail park”). I’d never been there before, but will almost certainly make the trip again in future; it’s a comfortable, pubby pub with a remarkable range of beer, including several from Outstanding (no bad thing). I went for a half of Kelham Island‘s rather cumbersomely-named There’s a ghost in my house, a rich, malty, porter-y dark mild. Then I went for Outstanding’s Standing Out – summed up by Darren a bit back as “a really good mid-strength pale ale”.
After a quick walk back into the centre of Stockport, I headed up Wellington Rd. The blackboard outside the Magnet looked mightily impressive, so I decided to hit the Railway first and finish off there. The Railway had four beers on, mostly from brewers I wasn’t familiar with, and none of them milds. The barman signed my card for me anyway and served me a half of the oddly-named Geeves Bow Hauler. You know what I said yesterday about some beers being citrussy (or Citra-y) but not thin and astringent? This isn’t one of those: a big grapefruit-juice attack, with nothing behind it but a bitter hop finish. I really enjoyed it. I drank it slowly, silently lamenting all the times in the past that I’d drunk beers like this and hated them – what a waste.
The Magnet, like the Railway, is an old-style lounge-and-public pub having a new lease of life as a multi-beer outlet. Unlike the Railway, they had a mild on (Great Heck Dave – yes, that is what it’s called); they had stickers (the barmaid offered me one without me having to ask); and they had a huge range of beer. There wasn’t anything I really fancied, though – it’s odd how that happens sometimes. I stuck with my Dave – a sweetish dark mild with bitter caramel overtones.
I ended up at the Crown, as you do; I could happily have spent all afternoon there (or in the Railway in Portwood, for that matter). Pictish Black Diamond is an oddly light-tasting dark mild – in a bad light it could pass for a dark bitter. Ayr Jolly Beggars is a very nice, full-bodied amber ale. And SWB Barista is a 5.5% ‘espresso stout’, which I’d had before and couldn’t bring myself to resist. It was also the most expensive beer I bought all day, at an eye-watering £1.30 for a half. Drinking in Stockport isn’t going to break the bank.
A good trip out – and that makes it 39 ticks down, 9 to go.