My next trip out – to Stockport – was overshadowed by how it ended, with a bleeding forehead and an incipient black eye. A rash decision to run for a bus, across an unsuspectedly muddy patch of grass, led to me becoming rather suddenly and intimately acquainted with the pavement. (There was no blacking-out, confusion or lost time – if anything I was rather more alert after the accident than I had been before – so I’m not concerned that I did myself any serious damage. I’ve got a hell of a shiner, though.) On the off chance that anyone in the group of people who helped me afterwards reads this, many thanks – you made a nasty experience much more manageable.
Stockport, anyway… Going round the pubs of Stockport wasn’t a nasty experience, but it was a bit disappointing. At the Swan with Two Necks, the first thing I saw when I went in was the Old Tom pump clip. I duly ordered a half, to be told it was off. “And that one [Trooper] is off as well, and the cider.” I didn’t bother asking why the pump clips weren’t turned round. I settled for a half of 1892 Dark, which it was good to renew my acquaintance with – a really nice, lightish dark mild. Not actually a qualifying beer, but I wasn’t going to leave the pub without asking for a sticker. The drought continued at the Calvert’s Court (JDW): they had plenty of beers on, but every one of them seemed to be a pale bitter. Reduced to asking for the darkest thing they had on, I had a half of Cheshire Brew Brothers Kings Tower Tawny (and breathe). Which was fine – and qualified on strength grounds – but wasn’t very dark at all. (Also, no stickers.)
This wasn’t how I’d seen my trip to Stockport developing at all. Fortunately the revamped Bakers Vaults – which, unlike any of the other pubs I went in on the day, was humming – had Old Tom on, in all its sparkled glory. It really is a mighty beer. Revived and encouraged, I headed for the Cocked Hat. The only other time I’ve been in there – round about this time last year – I picked up a bit of a League of Gentlemen vibe: it seemed like a friendly and welcoming pub as long as you were already there. This time the regulars were less obtrusive, but I got into an argument with the woman serving – at least, she pulled me a pint instead of a half, then flatly denied that I’d ordered a half. Also, no stickers (apparently they’d run out). The half, as it goes, was of Millstone IPA; there wasn’t anything that qualified on style, with the dubious exception of the Cheshire Brewers… Cheshire Brother Brewers… the beer with the long name I’d had at Spoons’. I felt, again, that I was in ‘sup up and move on’ territory.
I moved on to the Arden Arms for my second half of Old Tom, this time on gravity. As such it was a bit slack and gravyish, but it was thoroughly enjoyable for all that. Plus it’s a nice pub; perhaps not one to seek out, but a good place to just sit and occupy a corner. As is my final stop of the day, the Railway in Portwood, where I had a Jaipur of all things – they had the usual outstanding selection of beers on, but not one of them was both dark and strong. (The Dunham Chocolate Cherry Mild was very nice, but that’s for another month.)
I make that Old Tom 2, Rest of the World nil. More precisely:
Old ale: 5 + 2 = 7
Not quite old ale: 6
No qualifying beers: 3 + 4 = 7
And the pubs:
Pubs I go to anyway: 7
Once-a-year pubs: 8 + 4 = 12
PIROTGIMO: 7 + 2 = 9