I had dreamt of finally filling the Winter Warmer card this year, but that thought evaporated after my pavement encounter. But I didn’t want to leave it there, particularly when – on checking my personal WWW map – I realised that I’d ticked off all but four of the pubs inside the M60. A route was planned.
And so it was that I found my way to the Hind’s Head. Not the easiest pub to get to from Chorlton – I can’t see it being exactly handy from Stockport, for that matter – but needs must. Not for the first time on a WWW, I had a half of Hobgoblin and was pleasantly surprised; it’s not so much an old ale as an old-ale-style beer product, but kept well it’s really rather good.
I walked from there to the Nursery; well, somebody’s got to. My twenty minutes of urban orienteering – in the rain – were rewarded by absolutely zilch in the way of dark or wintry beers. I had a pint of Manchester’s Finest (or Hyde’s bitter to you and me) which isn’t really a qualifying beer – although at 4.5% I guess it just about qualifies on strength. I also had quite a nice lunch, although it was disturbed by a family on the other side of the room whose youngest child had just reached the Exorcist stage of endless hwagh! hwagh!ing. I never have this trouble in Spoons’.
Outside it was still raining, and it took longer than seemed entirely reasonable to get back to
civilisationthe main road. Once there I doubled back a bit to the Hope. Sadly not one of the panoply of their own (Fool Hardy) beers was dark, so I had a guest – Pin Up milk stout; it was fine. Then down the slope to the Magnet, a multi-ale free house which I think I’ve underrated a bit in the past, possibly thanks to its rather hotel lounge-ish decor. The Rat brewery’s Workhouse Rat (“Victorian smoked porter”) was excellent, and I couldn’t resist topping it off with a half of SWB Diablo IPA (6%, didn’t taste it).
And finally Esther, the Crown. It is, and remains, a lovely pub with a remarkable range of beer – as ever, they had umpty-tiddly-three beers on from almost as many breweries. But (you could tell there was a ‘but’ coming) it wasn’t quite hitting the spot for me. Perhaps it was because the breweries were just too small – with the exception of Pictish and Facer’s, I hadn’t heard of any of the breweries there. I had a Rockin’ Robin from Bluestone, which – despite the awful name – was a pretty serviceable ginger porter. I wasn’t really in the mood for collecting ticks, though, so I left it at that.
In terms of beer, what I suppose we can call the northern outskirts of Stockport are looking better than the centre. For the final summing-up, we’ve got:
Stout: 5 + 1 = 6
Porter: 3 + 2 = 5
Old ale: 7
Not quite old ale: 6 + 1 = 7
No qualifying beers: 7 + 1 = 8
And the pubs:
Pubs I go to anyway: 7
Once-a-year pubs: 12 + 3 = 15
PIROTGIMO: 9 + 2 = 11
Eighteen qualifiers, eight non-qualifiers and seven borderline cases – could be a lot worse. And eleven, count ’em, pubs I really ought to go in more often. Perhaps that should be another resolution, along with the session bitter.
Many thanks to the organisers of the Winter Warmer Wander 2014, and to all the pubs who got into the spirit of it – it’s been a lot of fun.