you know how it is readers. You mention to your unspolt pub and driving fanatic Father about a pub you hadn't visited in a while, and before you know it a 9 pub crawl is on the cards. That is what happened when I mentioned visiting the Royal Cottage to WF a month ago. Soon it was a fortnight ago on Saturday morning and at 09.30 we were off to pick up Matty and head into Staffordshire.
After what is always quite a lengthy trip - including a diversion as Eccleshall bridge was closed, we finally pulled into Peggs Lane and crossed the canal to the Anchor at High Offley. There was a group of 4 canal boaters from Aberdeen in already, one of whom may have been called George - hello man from Aberdeen on a canal boat whose name I am unsure of !
We might have had a pint for me and a half each for Matty and WF of the only beer, Wadworth 6X, although Matty did get another half after the boaters had left, and we shared a very hefty bag of pork scratchings. The landlady chatted to us for some time whilst we took some pics and soaked up the atmosphere, before WF bought Matty an Anchor hoodie to wear. An excellent start to the day's drinking.
Not far away is the Haberdashers at Knighton. Its perhaps ten years since I was last there and it hasn't changed a bit. There were three beers on so we had a half of each - WF only having a few sips of his. Rowton Moonshine Mild, Rowton Bitter and Salopian Oracle, which was my beer of choice. The Rowton beers were traditional West Midlands in style and the Oracle was in excellent nick and well hopped. Although this was only a short visit its a pub I'd like to go to again.
Pub 3 was the Star at Copmere End. From a range of three or four me and Matty had a pint of Bass each and WF tried some Titanic White Star. The pub has a lovely exterior but is more modern inside, where food is served. The Bass was well kept and the landlady did very kindly tell us how to get to the Titanic pub the Sun in Stafford, which was our next stop.
The Sun is near Tescos and features about 9 real ales and some kegs. I had a half of the guest from a brewery in Yorkshire (!) and Matty and WF had or tried halves of the Titanic Plum Porter and a new beer. I also bought a half of the Speyside wheat from the Speyside brewery - probably the beer of the day with wonderful speyside malt in the mix. The Sun is an old pub with multiple rooms and caters for families and drinkers alike.
From here we tried to find a quiet road to park on to have lunch before visiting the Green Man - I may incorrectly have this down as Willington, as there is definitely one there but it begins with W and is in Staffordshire! Joint best beer of the day here - Holdens Black Country Mild, a pint of for me and Olde Trip for Matty and mild for WF as well. Brilliantly kept beer in this spick and span pub.
Pub 6 was a new one to us all - the Bore Hole in Stone is the Lymestone Brewery Tap. First time I have ever been to a pub on an industrial estate, and what a fantastic boozer it is ! Quite tiny, we had to sit outside but it was warm and a nice place to enjoy our 5 different Lymestone Brewery beers, which all had names. I also purchased a chicken ham and bacon pork pie to snaffle at home.
Pub 7 was the Brushmakers at Oulton. Now with a new sign, the pub sells Thwaites beers and possibly a guest - I had a pint of Wainwright in here and it was a little disappointing, perhaps just near the end of the barrel. That aside, this is a proper drinkers pub which serves the locals with real ale and little else, and was rightly busy for a Saturday night. One of my favourite Staffordshire pubs.
Our penultimate venue was the Black Lion at Consall Forge. Down a lane, then a track, park up, cross the river, the canal and the railway track and you are there. There were a few beers on and we tried the Connaught Pale (or similar) and the Dark Ruby Mild from their own brewery. Tim Taylors Golden Best came on after so we had some of that as well, to wash down our large meals - the mixed grill even defeated Matty!
The final stop was Cliffs, the Royal Cottage on the A53. Just him and a regular there when we arrived, and I had my usual bottle of Old Speckled Hen whilst Matty had Guinness and WF a J2o. Its been a while since we saw Cliff and it was good to chat about Sheffield and much else at in the beautiful bar room near the fire. The regular left about 22.00 and we continued to chat with Cliff until we left about 22.50, and Cliff closed and locked the doors behind us. He had done his three hours.
So ended a fantastic crawl of mostly old and unspoilt pubs in Staffordshire, with the Holdens Black Country Mild and Speyside Wheat the best beers of the day by far. Well done to WF for planning much of the route and venues.