As I was a-wandering (3-4 of 4)

So then I went to this other pub and had a different beer, which was also very nice…

The plan to visit really quite large numbers of pubs in Stockport, and on the Fallowfield/Didsbury trail, didn’t work out; in the end I just made it to the 25-pub mark. Having done 17 pubs in the town centre and Chorlton, I’ve only got eight more to mention. I may as well run through them now.

In Rusholme, the Ford Madox Brown (JDW) was serving Peerless Full Whack. The brewery describe this simply as a strong ale (it’s 6%), but I’m using my discretion and putting it down as an old ale. I liked.

Down the road in Withington, the Victoria had another 6%er in the shape of Hyde’s Beer Studio Crystal Chestnut. A darkish and surprisingly aromatic winter beer; again, this ticks enough of the boxes to go down as an old ale. Up the road, my plan to make an early-lunchtime visit to the Friendship was foiled by the place refusing to open, or at least taking its time over it; an unusual sight of a  Christmas weekend. The Great Central (JDW) was open, unsurprisingly, and supplied me with… White Horse Rudolph the Red Nosed White Horse (4.8%). Which was fine.

A trip to Stockport, also on a weekend over Christmas, took me first of all to Robinson’s Visitors’ Centre… which was shut (and yes, I had checked the times). H’mph. Ho forth to the Cocked Hat, which was… odd. It struck me as one of those pubs which would be written up as warm, friendly and welcoming, but only by its regulars. Put it this way, there were five or six punters stood in front of the bar, and every one of them looked round as I came in. The last time that happened to me the punters were speaking Welsh. As for the beer, there were five or six hand pumps, but it was actually quite hard to see all the pump clips, what with the discussion group parked in front of the bar – or to read what they said when I did get a look, thanks to the low light… the whole thing just wasn’t very comfortable, basically. I ended up with some kind of stout. Had a half. Supped up and got out. I think somebody wanted my table.

The Arden Arms didn’t disappoint, with a half of Old Tom from a pin on the bar; a bit listless and lacking in condition, but still a great beer. The pub was rather full, on the down side; I ended up standing in a corner of one of the side rooms. The landlord, wont to hail anyone standing at the bar to check whether they want to dine, was taking an even more proactive approach and encouraging drinkers to budge up on the benches to let more people sit down. I stayed stood.

At the Railway (Portwood) I bumped into a fellow CAMRA member, who advised me to get along to the Stockport branch’s 40th anniversary dinner, an idea I’d been toying with despite it not being my branch. (It turned out not to be a great idea, but I blame lack of preparation on my part more than anything.) Anyway, Rossendale Pitch Porter was on, and was as good as ever.

It is a truth universally acknowledged that a man with a half of Old Tom inside him fancies few things more than another half of Old Tom. This was provided by the Swan with Two Necks – in excellent condition and sparkled. “Very nice indeed” would be an understatement.

If anyone’s keeping count they’ll have realised that we’re now up to 24. Pub 25 was… The Olde Woolpack, a pub I’d never made it to before. I’m as sorry as anyone that it’s had to close, but I’m not sure I’m surprised – it’s a bit of a trek from anywhere else, in a town (and in a part of town) that’s not short of good drinking opportunities. Anyway, I skirted the industrial estate, crossed the roundabout with the motorway signs and made it to the beckoning lights of the Woolpack, to find that they had absolutely nothing on that would qualify: no old ale, no stout or porter, nothing over 4.5% (while the only ‘seasonal’ was something called Christmas Slapper, which somehow didn’t appeal). They were, however, very big on polypin cider, so I had one of those – something from Gwynt y Ddraig FWIW.


These areas Total
Old ale / Barley wine 4 6
Porter / stout 2 12
Others (4.5% and over) 1 4
Others (non-qualifying) 0 2
Cider 1 1

Only six old ales and ‘winter warmers’, out of 25 pubs – and three of those were Old Tom. Rather a lot of draught stouts and porters. (Looking on the bright side, hey – rather a lot of draught stouts and porters!)

How do these figures compare with last year, I hear absolutely nobody ask? Here’s how:

2013 2012
Old ale / Barley wine 6 4
Porter / stout 12 9
Others (4.5% and over) 4 9
Others (non-qualifying) 3 4

So it looks as if things are getting better; the WWW may be helping to encourage pubs to put more stouts and winter ales on. And it’s always good to have an excuse to visit pubs slightly further afield; I just wish I hadn’t had a cold to slow me down for so much of the WWW period. So many pubs, so little time. Ah well – roll on Mild Magic!



  1. pubcurmudgeon
    Posted 23 January, 2014 at 2:56 pm | Permalink | Reply

    The Cocked Hat does seem ideally designed for a crowd of barflies to hang around in the corner by the bar and obstruct anyone else who wants to get served. Maybe that subject even deserves a blogpost…

    The Woolpack did close once three and a bit years ago but then reopened under the stewardship of the Quinn family.

  2. Posted 23 January, 2014 at 11:20 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Generally, in all the pubs I’m a regular in, I sit at the bar. I always feel that as a lone drinker, there’s not much sense in me clogging up a table intended for four or six.

    • Phil
      Posted 24 January, 2014 at 9:07 am | Permalink | Reply

      That’s very self-deprecating of you! I take the view that I’m buying a bit of comfort as well as the beer. Lone drinkers generally don’t stay as long as groups, I wouldn’t have thought, so it’s not that great an imposition.

      Bench seating is good for fitting in a variety of people & groups. Also long, refectory-style tables, although they never quite seem to catch on – just a bit too ‘communal’.

  3. pubcurmudgeon
    Posted 24 January, 2014 at 9:13 am | Permalink | Reply

    Blogpost now done here.

    Agreed about the flexibility of bench seating. The problem with refectory tables is that they make it difficult for those in the middle to get up to go to the bog or bar.

  4. Cookie
    Posted 24 January, 2014 at 9:16 am | Permalink | Reply

    A night out in Stockport and you didn’t get glassed. A success by anyone’s standards!

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