For many folk the end of May signals the start of the major beer festival season, with Cambridge and Stockport fests cruelly coming up in successive weeks.
They hold no interest to me. Mrs RM and I took the DeLorean to a short break in the pub capital of the UK to enjoy a stagger round one of Stockport’s less heralded suburbs. The lack of a programme and T-shirt for the Offerton crawl was a bitter disappointment.
This was also an opportunity for Mrs RM to update her Business Case for retirement to Stockport (hopefully with me) rather than Preston.
Stockport looked as lovely as ever, and we enjoyed a pizza and Squawk IPA in the Magnet, a pub that gets better on every visit. What really stood out was the range of customers the Magnet attracts, no longer just a specialist beer house. Every second customer had a (well-behaved) dog, and this is clearly a destination pub now. Great toilets too;
What I particularly like about Stockport & South Manchester CAMRA is the effort they put into visiting all the pubs in a wide catchment, rather than sticking to the same dozen or so favourites time after time. This is important for assessing ale quality for the Beer Guide, encouraging landlords to stock it, and of course drinking the stuff.
No doubt there will be a write-up of the stagger in Opening Times, the excellent Stockport CAMRA newsletter, so I’ll stick to an overview.
Offerton isn’t a distinctive suburb; everything of interest was in the pubs, but there was some very pleasant housing throughout.
Six contrasting pubs, all with very decent business on Friday night, much busier than say Arbury or Romsey Town in Cambridge. What stood out again was the wide age range of customers; without being the stereotypical community pub they were able to attract folk in their 20s as well as their 60s out of their living room, without a 2-for-1 food offer or flashy entertainment.
The Puss in Boots was the busiest of the night, a well modernised estate pub geared up for food trade but clearly thriving on drinkers trade, in the way that you won’t see in most of the south.
The Fingerpost is possibly closest to the old-fashioned multi-roomed Robbies pub that I fell in love with 20 years ago. These first two showed how much Robinsons have improved their estate in the last 20 years, whatever you think of improvement.
Our group of nine caused some irritation in the Emigration by all ordering individual halves, but that apart I thought the friendliness and quality of service throughout was exceptionally friendly, as of course was the company of our little band. Only one beer T-shirt to be seen (Thwaites, bizarrely).
Lots of chat about canals and the meaning of “humble pie”, and proper pub seating throughout. Friday night (possibly every night) in Stockport is party night, so Pub Curmudgeon was competing with the Pointer Sisters and Michael Jackson at times.
Pub of the night was the town centre Cocked Hat, where I finished the night on a high with Cross Bay’s Zenith, but to be honest I enjoyed the lot, warts and all. Mrs RM would have been happy to stay in the Magnet all night, so I clearly have work to do before she becomes a true Pub Woman. It was probably the persistent rain.
No Key Keg beers at all, by the way, and I’ll bet no-one in any of the pubs last night has a clue what those are anyway.