There’s only 3 types of pub, really. The traditional boozer (see: The Egerton), the bar with craft beer and food (see: Terrace), and the “Family Diner” (see: everywhere).
Today the family diner comes from Droylsden, or Audenshaw if you’re picky. This is the bit of east Manchester that City fans park at to catch the tram into the Etihad or Primark, as was the case here for Mrs RM and myself.
Droylsden is, of course, the town where BRAPA had the beer that smelt of wee this year, sparking an international (well, cross-Pennines) incident when he took the beer back.
No such drama for me, as I enter a branch of the most drama-free pub chain in the world. Yes, an Ember Inn.
Actually, I’d worked up a thirst walking the 3 miles from the Etihad to the Fairfield. I could have used my Metrolink Travelcard, but
a) I’m not a sardine, and
b) I was walking quicker than a tram sharing the A662 with cars, which rather seemed to defeat the purpose of the metro.
Plenty for lovers of Holt’s, and dead pubs, on the walk along Ashton New Road. Entertainment from a couple of Palace fans exiled to Richmond who felt it necessary to explain to me exactly where North Yorkshire was (“It’s between Leeds and Newcastle. You can’t miss it“).
You can’t miss the Fairfield Arms either; just look for the car park with taxed vehicles in it. The setting takes in some attractive canalside scenery, and a memorial to a long-forgotten sport.
Oddly, you always know when you’re about to visit a Wetherspoon. Not just the 8am (for coffee) opening times and the word “Abbot” in the beer list, but the local branch will always state what the building used to be before it was “Spooned”, as if devaluing the entry (“just a Spoons“).
In contrast, the entry wording for the Ember Inns that sprinkle the Guide with their lovely identikit décor often leaves you guessing as to who owns the pub, leaving the tell-tale tall sign to reveal the horror to the adventurous ticker, often after a lengthy walk though drab suburbs.
The Fairfield Arms is a stately looking building which you’re a bit surprised that Brunning & Price have missed, ’till you remember it’s in Droylsden.
“Eight handpulls” says WhatPub. This was the beer range on a Saturday night in September;
Suits me. The ultra-rare Wainwright had just gone off, making my beer choice easy.
Finding a suitable place to perch my half of Ember Pale was the highlight of my visit, weaving past overdressed folk in floral dresses who didn’t know how to sit down.
In the end I stood at the Champagne observation point,
There was lots to observe, in a mildly “Abigail’s Party” way, but clearly the main enjoyment came from the Christmas decorations (top). Counselling is available for folk distressed by having left their Christmas Day booking too late.
My Mum would love it. Simon will love it too. For different reasons.
“But what about the beer ?” I hear Pub Curmudgeon cry.
It was excellent, at least NBSS 3.5. The beer in Ember Inns is nearly always good, that’s why CAMRA branches have to put them in the Beer Guide, until I get the necessary resolution passed at AGM.