I’d wanted to combine my trip to Stockport with some proper walking in the Dark Peak, but urgent teenage haircuts limited me to a night at the local CAMRA Branch meeting and some meandering in Hyde. Both were worth the journey.
I stayed at the Heaton Chapel, an Innkeepers Lodge with attached Toby Carvery. Before the increase in Premier Inns and Travelodges of the last decade I used the Lodges regularly; this one is clean and cheap but the continental breakfast isn’t the glorious affair it was. Hopefully Stockport will be getting some new options for adventurous beer tourists soon.
One of Stockport CAMRA’s major campaigning successes was to promote the introduction of real ale in places like the Heaton Chapel. It may only offer Brakspear, an odd change from Thwaites, but a decent low-ABV beer to go with your carvery.
The walk along Wellington Road North isn’t a Stockport highlight, though Heaton Hops across the road from the hotel is still to be visited, and missing out on their Cloudwater Double IPA was a disappointment.
There’s a few attractive residential houses on the way to the Hope though.
I’ve been to The Hope on a fleeting visit before for a quick half, but last night gave me a chance to enjoy it during the fevered atmosphere of the Good Beer Guide selection meeting.
It’s a beautiful pub, inside and out, with a classic two-room layout offering space for both a packed CAMRA meeting, and several dozen drinkers equally furthering the cause of pubs in the next room.
As it was on my previous visit, the Hope is spectacularly busy for a suburban pub with no hot food on a week night. Undoubtedly keen pricing (under £3) helps, but it was the sense of comfort that really stood out.
I can’t say much about the meeting itself, except that it was again exceptionally chaired and kept to time by John Clarke. There was some excellent debate, and the commitment to helping ensure good beer is served to locals and visitors to the area shone through.
It’s clear that, as with central Manchester, there is a lot happening on the pub and beer scene, and a large part of the Branch’s work is making sure pubs get visited so that the effort being put in by licensees and brewers gets recognised.
By the end of business, I’d tried three of the Hope’s own Fool Hardy beers and the Brass Castle. My NBSS scores varied considerably, reflecting as much my own preferences as the inherent quality of the beer. There were certainly no problems with lack of turnover here.
A terrific pub, and just as well it was too late to add the delights of the Magnet and Railway a few yards away. A shame that Curry Express couldn’t maintain the standard.