Wednesday, 13 March 2013

Cheshire Choice

Good evening,

     yesterday Wee Fatha was my guide as we took a follow up tour of the Cheshire, its pubs and breweries. We once again traversed a snow capped Snake pass (3 month after the last trip, perhaps confirming what a long cold winter we've had) but this time headed straight for Dunham Massey Brewery. More to come on that visit, but it was an enjoyable stop off.

We drove on through the lanes, stopping briefly in Lymm at the Dam for our lunch then into Warrington. The pharmaceutical, rugby and brewing capital of Cheshire is a first visit for me and I had two places I wanted to visit - the Lower Angel on Buttermarket, and the Tavern, on Church Street.

The first was relatively easy to find as we parked at the bottom of Buttermarket. The Lower Angel is an attractive looking Walkers livery boasting boozer with a traditional partition bar, and a door on each side. And the doors boast exceptional Walkers of Warrington leaded glass windows, matching the beautiful maroon tiling and leaded windows.. Inside is a bar running the length of most of the room on the left, and a strange stanchion or frame on the bar which I have only previously seen in the Kings Arms, Bloom Street Salford - like a king of single booth, but with no sides. Probably best you go and see for yourself! Although there are some pics coming on Flickr...

Beers wise there were two from the on site Tipsy Angel Brewery and a range of guests. WF had a half of Tipsy Angel Angel's Tipple, and I halves of their 200little angels and By The Horns bobby on the Wheat. Both were nice, the house beer perhaps best, and the 3 drinks came to £3.81. Great value.

All too soon we heading fr the tavern. Unfortunately, none of the 5 people we asked knew of either the Tavern or Church Street, one confusing it with Mersey Street (sigh) nut luckily a bobby on the street knew and we were soon walking to the pub, which we could see from the car park. The Tavern is  large pub slightly above the road with 8 beers on offer. The three beers tried were Hapax Ruby for WF, Cheshire Brewhouse DBA (the only "dark" beer, which was, erm, brown) and 4T's Return of the Citra Hop.

I may be mistaken but I swear this all came to £3.61. A very reasonable price for a trio of ales. Luckily I got to finish most of WF's as he was rationing himself. Shame.

We made a brief detour to the thoroughly nice folk at Tatton brewery next. Alas they only took cash - luckily me and WF between us managed to generate the £49.75 required for two crates in real cash - with about 38p to spare.

A quick trip to a post office was required, and heralded an encounter with a well to do yoot. Seeing I was leaving, he continued to push past into the shop. Granted I pushed past into the road, neither of us was right here, but he mardily plummed out the phrase "its always the person entering who has right of way". Having helpfully responded "thanks retard" its only when I got outside (and surmised he was likely in the sports car) that I thought about how nonsensical his claim was - how would you get off the bus using this rule? And why, leaving the shop presumably laden with shopping, would you hold open the door for someone free of such constraints to enter? Mentalist....

Anyhoo, I digress, Mobberley beckoned next and the Bulls Head was our destination. Not that WF was certain. He had it down as a completely different pub, in fact, all we knew was we weren't going to the Railway. Ten minutes following endless pretty lanes followed until WF finally admitted he had no idea where the Bulls Head was. As with all trips out, this was my cue to recall the conversation we had before we left "Is there anything else you want to check before I turn the computer off Dad?" "No, I've got all the info I need". Whatevs....

We found the pub after a phone call and got another trio - halves of Mobberley Wobbly, Woodlands Birthday, brewed for the pub, and Tatton Gold. All were in decent form, though the long sought out Mobberley beer was a little sweet, but it was nice sat near the fire listening to the chatter. The prices were the highest of the day - perhaps reflective of the area. Although the Bull's Head isn't the sort of pub I usually go for, it was an enjoyable visit.

Another memory fuddled search followed so WF could take an admittedly pleasing pic of Bowden Parish Church before we popped onto Goose Green (via an incongruous cobbled route) in Altrincham, to visit Costello's. I rarely get to try Dunham Massey beer on draught and here it was absolutely superb. The stout, which I now know is brewed with a modicum of porridge oats for body, was delectable, WF enjoyed half a Stamford Bitter and I also had their strong East India IPA. Brewed with British hops, just like brewer John likes. The stout was so excellent I also had to have another half.

Through the dark lanes next we ended up in the Harrington Arms at Gawsworth. Packed to the rafters, this pub seems to have changed slightly, if nothing else in its customer demographic, since my last visit about 7 years ago. A lot of tables were now set for food, and the ancient tables and fixtures were so brazenly rustic as to be almost too basic. I haven't been enough times to comment on what the first room on the left used to be like, but if any food inspired stage management had taken place it was still a glorious layout with a fantastic black and red tiled floor. Beers in here were halves of Robinsons 1892 for WF and a pint of Hoptimus for me, not a bad beer as well.

Hunger was setting in now so we opted to go to the pub of the two we wanted to visit in Macclesfield that did food. Despite knowing where Sunderland Street is, we must have driven past the Treacle Tap at least twice, but called them and managed to find them, and parked down a nearby cobbled street. To our huge relief they were serving food - so I had a steak and Red Willow ale pie, WF a chicken and mushroom. Both came with mash and mushy peas - the gloriously satisfying starchy food that lines a drinkers stomach.

There were 3 cask beers on, Buxton Rednik Stout and Spa (which was a replacement for something I forget), I had a pint of that, and WF a half of teh Red Willow Wreckless. In the end, because the friendly lass behind the bar asked us to move tables to accommodate a large party, I ended up with another half as recompense. Thank you very much! One other great quality that the Tap possesses is a great range of imported bottled beers - at sensible prices. Most between £3.20 and £4.50. One of the more inexpensive venues to carry the name Tap, it seems.

Our penultimate stop was a bit of a hunt but we eventually found the Wharf on Brooke Street. A fine free house sporting 5 handpumps and some interesting keg taps, I contrived to forget entirely what I had. All I know is one of the halves was dark. WF had a pint of the Wharf Best or similar of which landlord Chris was unwilling to divulge the makers identity - I like his explanation that he tells persistent query posters the answer is West Yorkshire brewery Goodall Brookes.....

Our final stop was a new one for WF and a long awaited return for me. The Old Hall at Whitehough was chosen ahead of the Roebuck in Chapel or the Cheshire Cheese at Hope, and didn't disappoint. I had halves of Happy Valley 5 rings and the excellent Ilkley Wit Marie, with WF on a small amount of a half of Hambleton Sweet Chariot. We sat at the bar supping our ales and talking to a couple about beers and BeerX. Contrary to your natural expectations, they were able to run away. Eventually.

So, another great day out in the Cheshire, featuring a good mix of pubs and some great local Cheshire beers. In the next couple of months we expect to be making a trip out to try the new Dunham Massey Brewing Co venture - a brewpub in Lymm called the Old Post Office. Watch this space for news.

Wee Beefy.  


  1. Yes, the original fabric of the Harrington Arms is unchanged, but some more rooms have been opened up at the back and the emphasis is much more on food. Indeed on one visit a group came into the room on the left and a young woman said she didn't want to sit there because it was a bit grotty. Commercial reality, I suppose.

    1. I remember thinking that it was very very busy for a freezing cold Tuesday. Virtually got the last seat in the whole pub. I'd much rather hear the tick of a clock, the crackle of the fire and the hub of conversation at the bar - but if it has to close so I could enjoy it that's too high a price. And despite its change of focus, its still a great place for a pint.

  2. Excellent news about the brew-pub in Lymm ... can't wait for that to open as it's not too far away .
    I also thought the Harrington Arms was focused on the food side , but the beer was good. I also had the vault to myself for a couple of hours... so I could here the crackle of the fire, and the ticking of the clock- it was rather nice.
    Never really noticed the bar in the Lower Angel before.

    1. My first visit to the Lower Angel and I'd like to go again. And I think we all agree that the Harrington Arms is still a cracking pub. Hoping to head out to the Fiddle 'ith Bag at Burtonwood next time. And Lymm, of course.

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