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.

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