Monthly Archives: April 2012

Mild Magic – day 2

Some notes on another brief crawl I did in support of Mild Magic 2012, Stockport and Manchester CAMRA’s annual effort to promote mild. (Here’s the map again.)

This one didn’t quite go to plan, owing partly to the weather and partly to my misreading the map. I initially planned it as a stroll from Fallowfield to Didsbury, taking in Withington and West Didsbury on the way. In fact that route would only be strollable if you set aside a couple of hours (not including pub stops), and even then you’d need good weather. I resorted to the bus at one end of the route and cut it short at the other.

I hadn’t been in the Friendship in Fallowfield since last year’s MM, when I was there on a medium-quiet weekday lunch. Returning at 4.00 on a Friday (the joys of part-time work) I found the place buzzing, verging on heaving; I had to look quite hard to find somewhere to sit. There was even a darts match in progress. Rather a nice big square pub, with a decent range of beers, some of them startlingly cheap (my half of Hyde’s 1863 cost 96p). On the down side, I’ve never really been able to see the point of 1863 – it strikes me as not so much a light mild, more a bland bitter – and this wasn’t even the best half of 1863 I’d ever had. I’d have liked to stay longer and try something else, but hey, things to do, boxes to tick.

After taking one look at Wilmslow Road I decided that walking to Withington was a thoroughly bad idea, and got the bus; it left from outside the Friendship and stopped opposite the Victoria. Hyde’s Owd Oak was a recognisable dark mild, which at least is an advance on the 1863. Otherwise the Vic seemed unchanged since my last visit, i.e. it’s a nice pub with a good range of beer.

I walked to my next stop, the Railway on Lapwing Lane (which wasn’t in last year’s MM). This is a Holt’s house and a classic street corner boozer, albeit with XFM playing on the PA. Holt’s Mild was very nice, as was the IPA (I make a point of having the IPA whenever I’m in a Holt’s pub). Holt’s Mild always strikes me as a proper, no-frills, low-strength dark mild, and this half was no exception.

It was raining pretty hard by the time I got out, and it would have been a long walk to Didsbury, so at this point I knocked it on the head and made for home.

Mild Magic – day 1

More about Mild Magic 2012, Stockport and Manchester CAMRA’s annual effort to promote mild. (Here’s the map I’ve put together for route-planning purposes, showing all 100 pubs and the 70 areas they’re in.)

I kicked off Mild Magic properly with a quick weekend ramble around the centre of town. At 11.30 a.m. the Waterhouse was already doing a good trade and offering a welcoming atmosphere; I wouldn’t go so far as to say it’s one of my favourite town centre pubs (I’d find it hard to say that of any pub with tables screwed to the floor) but it’s certainly somewhere I’m never sorry to go. Nothing was badged up as mild, so I had a half of Fallon’s Dark Prince. This is one of those “dark beers”, that isn’t quite sure whether it’s a strongish mild, a sweetish porter or a darkish old ale – and very pleasant it is too.

A brisk stroll, modulating over distance into a determined trudge, took me to Knott Bar, which is in an area of its own and understandably so. (Not sure why they called the area Manchester Deansgate, although I suppose Manchester The Very, Very Arse End Of Deansgate, You Know Atlas, You Know Deansgate Station, Well, Further Out Than There, Yes That Is Still Deansgate, I Wasn’t Sure Myself But I Checked And It Definitely Is wouldn’t have fitted on the stickers.) I’d never been here before but will do again. It’s a bare-boards, leather-armchairs, multiple-real-ale, heavy-rock, posh-burgers sort of joint; it seems calculated to appeal to the kind of person who used to go to biker pubs in search of a decent pint. No visible mild, again, and the barman didn’t have any constructive suggestions; I think the York Centurion’s Ghost (another “dark beer”) was probably the closest thing there, but since I had a free hand I went for something more interesting, Conwy Rampart. Mmm, Conwy. (I do love a good malty bitter, and that is a good malty bitter.)

A quick hike back up Deansgate took me to the Rising Sun, which I don’t think I’d been in since the last Tory government. (At which time none of the other four places I went to the same day was even in business.) It’s done well in my absence; it’s a nice, busy, accommodating town pub, without any of the blokiness of the Knott; decent beer range, affordable food. (A bit like the City used to be, really.) Moorhouse’s Black Cat was my first definite no-messing mild of the day.

Then to the Moon Under Water, my second Spoons of the day. It’s one of the more sepulchral Spoons, with natural light from the front entrance dwindling away in the gloom as you make the long trip to the bar. Nothing identifiable as mild here either, unless you counted a leftover from the recent festival, Smuttynose Murrican Mild. I like a good light mild, and this was… interesting. If you mixed a golden ale with cream soda you’d get something like this. Not something I’d rush to have again, but definitely interesting.

I ended up at the Arndale Micro Bar, where again there was no mild on (although I’ve since had Boggart’s Dark Mild there). That day I went for Empire Wild Boar, a very pleasant cask stout.

Five pubs, five areas, five stickers. There’s a shirt with my name on it.

Mild Magic – day 0

Mild Magic 2012, Stockport and Manchester CAMRA’s annual effort to promote mild, began just over a week ago. I’ve put together a map for route-planning purposes, showing all 100 pubs and the 70 areas they’re in.

I got off to a bit of a false start; I had a route planned out, starting at East Didsbury station, getting the train to Gatley and hitting Gatley, Cheadle and Cheadle North before finishing up back at Parrs Wood. It’s a good little route; I must do it some time. My problem was that I did it on Thursday 12th, and Mild Magic – although it was launched on the 10th – only officially started on the 13th.

As I was reminded when I got to the Horse and Farrier in Gatley: a big, multi-room, mock-Tudor Hyde’s pub. I had a half of 1863, which was in good nick and tasted pretty good; not the most exciting beer in the world (not the most exciting mild in the world if I’m honest), but a perfectly decent session beer. However, when I inquired about stickers, the landlord reminded me that MM hadn’t started yet. I could have pleaded and begged at this point but didn’t, partly because he then spent several minutes rummaging around in the vicinity of the till; this led me to the mistaken conclusion that he was going to be a gent about it and give me a sticker anyway. Then he found whatever it was he was looking for and went back to updating the Specials board. Hey ho.

The story had a happy ending of sorts, in that I headed back to Chorlton and consoled myself with a half of Red Willow Ageless DIPA at Pi. Mmm, Red Willow.