NOVEMBER STOCKTAKE

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NOVEMBER REVIEW

57 new Beer Guide pubs in November, in 24 different counties, a geographic high.  Some very consistent beer quality in month, with one notable exception. More importantly, it was a month I had some decent beer in that London for a change. Plenty of evidence that CAMRA branches get GBG selection right most of the time.

There may be more craft taps in ordinary bars these days, but I rarely see it being bought. For all my reservations about micro-pubs, they continue to be the places I really do see beer “selling like hot cakes“.

 

NEW PUB OF THE MONTH – SHIP ISIS, SUNDERLAND

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This chap was the star of the month. Chatty, enthusiastic and informative about Sunderland; a great advocate for Sunderland as well as Head of Steam/Camerons. That Almasty stout was pretty special, and the upstairs rooms are Vaux heaven.

Heaton Hops wasn’t far behind, with similarly great service, and Stockport CAMRA  really should find a way to get it listed under its heading in the Beer Guide.

 

BEER OF THE MONTH – BATHAMS BITTER @BLACK HORSE, BRIDGNORTH

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If ever there was an example of the difference between great beer and great pubs, this was it.  The Black Horse may well be a Work-in-Progress, but presently it’s as uncomfortable a pub as I’ve been in.  The Bathams was nectar, so all is not lost.

 

DISCOVERIES OF THE MONTH

Barcelona are beatable.

Northampton  (top) is the new real ale boom town.

As you get older, you can have too much choice.

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Wigan has the best pies, and some of our great micro-pubs.

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December is a virtual write-off, with our pubs full of amateur pubgoers shamelessly keeping our pubs going with their Prosecco and Peroni orders. I shall be saving myself for a trip to Stockport on 1 January.

Before then there’s a trip to Poland which may curtail blogging over Christmas.  The 17th is a significant date for Mrs RM, marking 23 years since she last agreed with me. We will be in Osnabruck, a German town with no notable features at all, unless you can advise me otherwise.

And finally, I still require an identification of this piece of street art from Gateshead;

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46 thoughts on “NOVEMBER STOCKTAKE

  1. Have the Poles annexed Osnabruck? Good luck there, it has some nice architecture, and a couple of years ago seemed to have a fairly vibrant live music scene, but the beer was not exactly interesting; the Rampendahl is your best bet,

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  2. “Stockport CAMRA really should find a way to get it listed under its heading in the Beer Guide.”

    Eh? It is listed under Heaton Chapel, which is where it is.

    All the various suburbs of Stockport are listed separately from the town centre.

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    1. Knew that would stir you !

      In the Beer Guide Heaton Hops is listed under Heaton Chapel, while the Magnet, Hope and Edgeley pubs are firmly listed under Stockport. Casual reader would assume Heaton Chapel is outside Stockport, Heaton Norris within. Obviously as a local you know your Stockport Borough. This is an example of the labelling anomalies in GBG that change each year.

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      1. One year we experimented with the likes of “Stockport: Edgeley” and “Stockport: Portwood”, but it just looked daft. Broadly speaking, I’d say that “Stockport” encompasses anywhere that is easily walkable from the town centre. Anywhere further out gets its own entry. And I mean easily walkable by normal people, not by you :p

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      1. And you said you didn’t buy Christmas gifts. Mrs RM is going to love her Canasafe iNNovAir 82105 Particulate Respirator Valved. I know my family likes them as stocking stuffers.

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  3. Do you ever worry that by sticking to GBG pubs, you’re missing out on all the genuinely good pubs in the country? It would be a shame to spend so much time and money dragging round the country only to miss all the decent pubs.

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    1. Apart from the fact I don’t worry about anything, yes do py. I’m clearly missing out on quite a lot. But the only way to make sure you don’t miss out on a great pub is to visit all 60,000 +, which would kill you. I don’t know of any other credible listing of places with good beer other than the GBG.

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      1. Surely the challenge, as with any such thing, is to do the full list of anything. It could be all the National Inventory pubs, all Holts’ pubs, all pubs called the White Hart or whatever.

        If it just becomes “do as many good pubs as possible” it becomes pointless. And I’d say that, in general, while the GBG does have its duds, there is a pretty strong overlap between GBG pubs and good pubs.

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      2. Having looked at some of the GBG entries for towns and cities I know well, I wouldn’t be so confident Peter. GBG entries are more defined by the vagaries of local politics than any kind of reliable notion of quality.

        I understand the nerdy nature of the compulsive ticker, but personally I’d rather go in the good pubs, or failing that, a random selection – it gives you a far better understanding of the British pub scene.

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      3. I’ll be your friend in England Dave, and I recommend the Hungry Horse in Wythenshawe. It’s the best pub in Manchester; chilled largers,unlimited chips and lots of blokes called Dave. All you need.

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  4. On a related subject, at the present time a lot of the new GBG entries seem to be either micropubs or dining pubs, so you get a somewhat unrepresentative selection of what any area has to offer and miss out on the delights of the regular stalwarts.

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    1. That’s very true. The stalwarts have been there for some time now; I’ll always revisit at least one old favourite when visiting the new pubs in a town. Micropubs can be very similar in style.

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  5. Or actually not much good at all. Over the past few weeks I’ve been to three recent openings. Two, in Stockport and Hartshill, were disappointing. The most recent, Weller’s in NuL, (Weal Ales first) was pretty good and would be a good pre emotive for those of a ticking disposition; for me it’s certainly much better than one of the town’s Guide stalwarts.

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    1. I must have been lucky with those stalwarts Malcom (this years entries anyway) as all very good. Agree they’re not all great, but very had to tell what they’ll be like. Some of the Kent ones are just small pubs with lager drinking locals, so ale not flowing (not that there’s anything wrong with lager-led pubs).

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  6. Petersgate Tap. I waited five minutes for someone to emerge from the office to serve me. Two of the 3 beers were from Hawkshead, the decor was cold and there was music which was both intrusive and inappropriate.
    Martin, on my only visit to the Castel Mona in NuL, there were 4 or 5 customers ( it’s a small pub ) , one of whom could not complete a sentence without swearing. As I get older my tolerance from random swearing has fallen and, despite a decent pint, I didn’t see why I should stay in a pub which was happy to indulge what I felt was unacceptable behaviour.

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    1. I tried to visit the Petersgate Tap for the first time last Wednesday, but it was closed. Fair enough, if they don’t want my custom…

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  7. 57 pubs puts me to shame, a top effort and great the quality was high – love Isis (the pub).

    As for ticking off GBG pubs, I’d say my favourite things about it are ticking stuff off a list (well, book), planning the logistics and going to weird and wonderful towns n villages I wouldn’t dream of otherwise and writing about it. If pub and pint are great, it’s something of a bonus. If they are terrible, I enjoy it almost as much!

    Enjoy Poland and Prosecco.

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    1. Exactly my thoughts regarding the GBG Simon. If I was just interested in great pubs and beer I’d spend all my time in the Maypole in Cambridge working through their rotating 16 beers.

      Planning is the best bit, I’m planning tomorrow’s South London trip now (Summerstown 9am !) and I’ll still forget to check WhatPub !

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    2. I find the serendipity of going in unfamiliar pubs and not knowing what you will find just adds to the fun.

      Cookie criticises the local CAMRA Staggers for having to go in the duff pubs as well as the good ones, but to me that’s a key part of the experience. And if you never go anywhere you might be surprised, you live a very dull and unadventurous life.

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      1. The thought of only going to the usual pub crawl places in Manchester or Black Country you see in CAMRA newsletters horrifying. Nuneaton and Mansfield really are as good as I wrote.

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      2. I would have thought that a good branch would always do what the Stockport branch does. How can you know what to put in the GBG if you don’t visit a wide variety of pubs? You can’t assume they don’t change. Is it unusual for a branch to do a wide variety of pubs as the Stockport branch does? I for one love reading the write ups of the Staggers.

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      3. Cheers Martin. We are fortunate in having a relatively compact branch area where there are no really “hard to get to” pubs, but I’d be confident in saying no good pub in terms of beer and/or atmosphere would pass under our radar.

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