That’s supposed to rhyme, by the way.

Finally in Altrincham, and just to prove we do visit pubs that aren’t in the Beer Guide, we visited Sam Smiths’ Malt Shovels.

Malt Shovels.PNG

Mainly because it gave us an excuse to admire the Alty treasure that is the “Informed Solutions of Manchester” HQ.

Informed Solutions Inc

And the equally wonderful duo of the Orange Tree and Market Tavern.

Old Alty

Now the Malt Shovels isn’t in the Beer Guide, but then it just serves the one cask beer. As Paul Bailey notes here, family owned pubs with one or two hand pumps in the GBG are the rarity nowadays.

I’ll never criticise the local CAMRA volunteers who visit their pubs week in, week out, and pick them for the Guide on the basis of beer quality.

But if in Alty, you must come here.


If only to hear the sort of sweary banter you won’t hear in an any of the Beer Guide entries. I’d always assume the Shovels was a United stronghold, but there were more City fans discussing Bendy Mendy, David James and the derby.

As Mrs RM noted, a bit too loudly, “men moaning like middle-aged women about a pig’s bladder”.

Don’t get me wrong, an Alty Sam Smiths isn’t a Salford Sam Smiths,  But it’s still a bastion of male drinking.  And they still say “And yer own“.


I wonder what Mrs RM makes of Sam Smiths.

Like the Malt Shovels, many of them are gorgeous,

Proper fire
Proper central bar

the regulars and staff are polite and cheery, with a strict “No Swearing” policy,

You tell ’em Sir Humphrey

and the beer is cool (and cheap).

Classic Sams range

To be honest, the OBB had that slightly sour taste you sometimes get with Sam’s, and Mrs RM’s “India Ale” was, as always, the better beer. So maybe local CAMRA are spot-on.

Unlike micro pubs, here you can go and hide in a side room if you take offence at someone being rude about Jeremy Corbyn or whatever.  But Mrs RM was enjoying the (unrepeatable) conversations at the bar even more than I was.

Proof that Mrs RM and I are Pint People

Despite some concerns about his managerial style, I’m a great admirer of Humphrey’s pubs.

You won’t get finer entertainment for less than a fiver in Alty, that’s for certain.




  1. I was going to suggest that as an antidote to the Cheshire Tap. Pity they don’t have the India Ale in the Boar’s Head, or indeed any other Sam’s pub I regularly visit 😦 Is there any other 5% non-craft keg bitter around?


      1. Trooper is 4.7%, so getting close, but it is hard to think of any others apart from Abbot that are widely available in mainstream pubs. I don’t often go in Fullers or Hall & Woodhouse pubs, but I assume ESB and Tanglefoot are often seen.

        Contrast with premium lagers, where pretty much every pub has a 4.8 or 5 percenter.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. The across the board ban on Clubs meeting in their pubs I would suggest is going to further reduce the chances of Sam’s outlets getting in the guide in future. I would have thought that a lot of local member support for GBG entries is influenced by attending meetings in them.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Is it a ban on club meetings in general, or just on one particular club in one pub?

        Anyway, Sam’s are never going to find favour with Discoursites, due to:

        (a) Being too cheap
        (b) Not selling 15 different cask beers, and
        (c) Appealing to ordinary, down-to-earth people

        Liked by 1 person

  3. “Proper central bar”

    Yep, that’s a goodun.

    “But Mrs RM was enjoying the (unrepeatable) conversations at the bar even more than I was.”

    Hang on, I thought there was a no swearing policy?

    “You won’t get finer entertainment for less than a fiver in Alty, that’s for certain.”

    That’s 25% less than the cheapest I can find near me; and I’m still expected to tip at least another 10% on top of that.



      1. Oh I got the fact it was two pints (sigh). As I said, best I can do over here for one pint is roughly £3.40 (with the tax included), plus I’m expected to add at least another 10% in tip.

        The only saving grace is I can get a 7.5% Imperial Stout or a 5% bitter for the same price. 🙂



      2. “It was a eight quid for a half litre in Copenhagen (not the craft stuff).”

        Good point. Perhaps it’s for the best it’s not as cheap over here as I have few places I can get to without driving; and I wouldn’t want to wind up drinking more since it’s cheaper only to have to drive home afterwards! 🙂


        PS – Good to see prices haven’t changed much in Scandinavia. When I backpacked through there in ’81 I had to eat chicken or go vegan in order to have money for beer. (heh)

        Liked by 1 person

      1. Yep.

        Rule of thumb is 15% over here:

        And you had better declare those tips on your income tax:

        I know the VAT is higher over there (be it the UK or France where my brother lives) but I have to admit it’s nice to be able to go into a store, or pub and pay the price advertised.


        Liked by 1 person

    1. I think the no swearing policy is more honoured in the breach than the observance. Indeed I’d say that, after Winters, the Boar’s Head is the pub in central Stockport where you’re *most* likely to encounter a fusillade of effing and blinding.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. The southern part of the town is full of smart schools and big houses, would remind you of Lichfield/Whittington or Sutton Park. Northern part of town a fairly normal dormitory town for Manc. Proper football ground, of course !

      Liked by 1 person

  4. “The OBB had that slightly sour taste you sometimes get with Sam’s”, I’ve noticed that with the OBB at the Chandos, next to Trafalgar Square. I don’t find it unpleasant, and I don’t believe it’s a sign the beer is off, but it may have something to do with the wooden casks which Sam’s insist on.

    I’ve also noticed it before with the beer at U Fleků, in Prague, but not on my most recent visit (2015). Again, wooden vessels are used somewhere along the line (fermentation or maturation?).

    Liked by 1 person

      1. The SPBW website (‘History’) admits that the container makes “little or no difference to the taste of the beer”. It lists about 20 breweries that do use wood, but sometimes more for flavouring. Most are on a very small scale and I suspect that Smiths accounts for a majority of actual volume sold from the wood. I have to say that I’ve not really noticed any difference in taste that could be attributed to the container but the beer does seem to particularly suffer from slow turnover.

        Liked by 1 person

    1. I _think_ that the Sam’s yeast is derived from Whitbread B, which is notorious for its “tang” of lactic acid and is perhaps the most widely-used yeast among “trad” British breweries.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. It does seem a shame that pubs with just a couple real ales on the bar are becoming a rarity in the GBG. If “rows and rows of taps” becomes the norm, you lose a certain type of tradition, don’t you? I’d think ideally the guide would want to represent all the different types of pubs, including the old school ones that preserve this simpler approach.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s an interesting topic of debate, Mark. Personally I’m not bothered about tradition and representation in the GBG, I think branches should select on the basis of beer quality alone. Not many seem to agree with me. The problem, of course, is that many CAMRA members aren’t that bothered about trying the beer in places run by family brewers anymore so they can’t judge on quality (Stockport excluded !).

      Liked by 2 people

  6. Sorry I didn’t intend to mean that Smith’s in general suffers from low turnover but in an individual pub where it might, then it seems to go off faster that some other beers around. I’ve never seen an article on the technicalities of building potential shelf life into beer recipes but surely it must be a consideration?


  7. Thanks Ian, I didn’t think you did mean that, and even Sams do have a few pubs where cask is clearly the minority seller (though I think inconvenience a bigger factor in withdrawal of cask in London and Rochdale, where often keg. Interesting point about ingredients; how do stronger appears last longer Don’t know.


  8. I have done all pubs pictured.
    We went in a Samuel Smiths tied house yesterday at Lincoln,done it loads of times,Sam Smiths OBB on cask very nice and £3 for a pint and a half.

    Liked by 2 people

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