Mild Magic, continued. Yes, I know I said I was going to leave it at 12, but I changed my mind, emboldened by the decision by the Lord High Eminences of Stockport CAMRA (NB check official title) that my unsatisfactory visit to the Burnage Albion should count as a tick in good standing.
And so to the Bishop Blaize, ostensibly in Stretford but actually in Old Trafford as far as I can make out; at least, it’s a couple of doors down from the Lou Macari fish bar, almost literally in the shadow of the United ground. It’s an absolute sod to get to from anywhere that isn’t the United ground, but there’s not much else to say about it. It’s a Spoons. It served a dark mild I’d never heard of (and which I forgot to write down), which was quite nice and in good nick. Next!
Next, I thought I’d do the Metro down to Altrincham. Sale first, and YA JDW’s in the form of the J P Joule on Northenden Road. I used to live in a flat just opposite, and have un-fond memories of the JPJ’s predecessor, a vertical drinking den called Ferguson’s with a ‘club’ called Bugatti’s attached. (Or rather, un-fond memories of their clientele, who could make quite a lot of noise on a quiet Thursday night.) Spoons houses may be soulless joints, but sometimes they’re still an improvement on what was there before. A half of Otter mild was in good condition and very pleasant – a light, malty dark mild, in the same region as Hatters’ Dark.
The plan now was to get the Metro to the Timperley stop, walk to the Quarry Bank in Timperley, then walk on to Navigation Road, where I could hit the Old Packet House and then pick up the Metro to Alti. And so it came to pass, more or less. The walk through Timperley was more residential than I’d bargained for – you’re either the kind of person who likes looking in people’s windows or you’re not, and personally I’d always rather be on the open road. Still, after fifteen minutes of suburbia I reached the Quarry Bank – recently refurbished, according to Opening Times – and had a half of decent but unspectacular Owd Oak. Hyde’s weirdness regarding mild reared its head here again: the barman signed my card, but maintained that the pub wasn’t actually doing Mild Magic, because they didn’t sell mild. As for the Owd Oak, “apparently this isn’t a mild as such”. What are the people from Hyde’s telling their licensees?
I pressed on to Navigation Road and the Old Packet House. The Mild Magic map let me down slightly at this point, inasmuch as the post code of the pub had suggested a location practically next door to the station. Not so: the pub’s right up on the A56, opposite the Navigation. It’s a small pub, fairly old school, with a choice of two draught beers – Boddington’s Bitter (!) and Taylor’s Golden Best. Obviously I had the latter, and (slightly to my surprise) it was terrific – easily the second best beer I had all day.
The best came last, at Costello’s Bar in Altrincham: not the most prepossessing venue (definitely a bar rather than a pub), but the beers – oh my. Costello’s is the Dunham Massey brewery tap. I had Dunham Dark – a seriously malty, porter-ish mild – and followed it up with the Chocolate Cherry Mild. The latter was superb; I’ve had it on gravity a couple of times at festivals, and never felt it quite worked, but this half really delivered. What was it like? The clue’s in the name: chocolate, cherry, mild. An odd combination, but it worked brilliantly. And I was served by the Chair of T&H CAMRA in person, which can’t be bad (hi Beverley!).
19 down, 5 to go. A peculiarity of my mild trawl to date is that I’ve been to quite a few Hyde’s pubs and only one Robinson’s. That’s going to change tomorrow, when I tick off the final five in Stockport. Watch this space.