Pub Curmudgeon knows Cheshire much better than me, but I’m always struck by how many towns of similar size there are, Chester apart.

They’re a mixed bunch as well, with towns a few miles apart providing sometimes startling contrasts. Folk in “Craft Central” Crewe often deny the existence of neighbouring Nantwich, a town surviving on ancient pubs while they wait for a Wetherspoons.

Likewise, Middlewich comes as a surprise when you’ve left Knutsford via Peover to avoid the inevitable M6 South delays.  As normal, we followed a hearse into the town.

My low opinion of Middlewich is based on a grim (and tiny) High Street, and poor beer in its only two previous Beer Guide entries.

On a glorious day, again missing the downpours, it redeemed itself.

Butcher-to-Balti, Middlewich
St Michaels,Middlewich

It’s not quite Pleck ‘s Brown Lion or Wolves’ Posada, but I was impressed by the brown tiling on the Balti place (thanks to Michael Harris and Pub Sign Man for their research).  The parish church was very lovely too, with great views of a delivery of Holts, sadly Smooth I think, to the King’s Arms.

Nice watching other folk negotiate those

But it was the riverside walk (the Croco !) and the string of locks that impressed, even if the thought of a canal holiday terrifies me. (Mrs RM would be sure to fall in). Some nervous looking folk were receiving highly complex instructions on negotiating the first lock that they seemed certain to ignore.

With ducks, informal gardens and brown water, it was a gorgeous slice of nature that even made the canal side pubs I’d rated badly before look inviting.

The White Bear was the clear star though, and a worthy new Beer Guide entry for the town.

This is the premier site in town, but I recall it looking very sorry for itself a few years ago.  The refurbishment since then has turned it into a smart but unpretentious pub with a lot of individual touches, though the use of logs may not appeal to all pub traditionalists.

Poyntonesque touches

At 11am the main business was clearly coffee and premium lagers. The presentation of real ales was excellent though, with an unusually concise description of the beers next to the clips.  A good range of localish beers too, with the Big Tree decent enough for a beer first out of the pump (NBSS 3).  Mrs RM was still recovering from the beer tasting.

The rest of Wheelock Street showed little sign of gentrification, though remaining a mecca for fans of takeaways in gorgeous buildings.

Would have made a good Spoons


  1. Cheshire is a bit of an unknown county to me so that was good food for thought (beer for thought?).

    Crewe wasn’t crafty when I drank a pint of Old Tom and got a round of applause from the locals (Boxing Day 2005), oh how things change.

    Log displays in pubs. Pet hate of mine. They may as well put are sign up saying ‘we are bollocks’. It’s like Cask Marque. Perhaps. But not Doom Bar & Sky Sports, that is a mark of quality obviously.


    1. Dont YOU start wilfully misunderstanding my humour or I’ll have to pack in the blog. I have a reader in Crewe (which I like) who may be sensitive, though I doubt it. Hops is craft. I remember that Robinsons pub in the shopping centre. Agree on Caskque Marwuee and logs, but anything that gets 70 year old women off the coffee onto pints of Reckless is good eh ?


    2. The useful info about Cheshire is that there loads of Clubs. Best to give them 3 weeks advance notice in writing so they can lay on appropriate welcome/ales/old blokes for you.


  2. Funny place, Middlewich – never seems to quite make it to being a proper town. Winsford is similarly weird if you’ve ever done the GBG-listed Spoons there. Apart from the north-east section, Cheshire is nowhere near as posh as it’s often made out to be.

    Some has been demolished now, but the A533 from Middlewich to Sandbach alongside the canal used to be an incredible scene of industrial grot.


    1. Very good point, you’d have to visit a fair few times to distinguish Middlewich from Winsford,though that has a more modern centre. Contrast with Sandbach something else. Industrial grot is OK with me !


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