BEARTOWN GETS A JOULE

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Mrs RM is working up near Melrose at the moment.  This is her office;

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Mrs RM is doing her IT stuff here

Some exciting “Tales From the Borders” coming up, though I suspect stories of General Ledger Upgrades and Password approval protocols would be more exciting to you.

20 years ago Mrs RM was staying in Eaton, just outside Congleton, and drinking pints of Beartown Bearskinful on her expenses. Happy days.

Bar the odd Spoons “Festival of cheap novelty beers“, I never see Beartown on the bar these days, though their Congleton Tap is hopefully on the way back.

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Congleton

Congleton‘s only real problem is that it isn’t Leek. But it does have boutique B&B, opera, walks along disused rail lines, an oatcake shop and the Cloud (upper right on OS), which presumably is where the Government stores all my photos.

But it lacks classic curry houses, it lacks bargain B&B, and it lacks Bass.

If it’s not quite as black and white as Nantwich, it has its moments.

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Congleton Town Hall
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Black & White shop
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Black & White pub

The Olde White Lion looks particularly inviting, and is the only pub in the pedestrianised High Street I don’t remember going in, which says something about the vibrancy of the local pub scene.

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Sells Abbot, apparently

Plenty of shoppers on the pedestrianised and unpretentious main streets, though the average age is probably a decade above what you’d see in Macc.  More charity shops than coffee houses, unusually for Cheshire. 

Another year, another new entry in “Beartown“. And if you can’t have Bass, I reckon Joules is the next best thing.

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Prince of Wales, Congleton

The Prince of Wales is particularly gorgeous, though that’s pointless if a pub is empty or lacking atmosphere.

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It’s Joules you want.  And a sausage bap

The Prince had a really good mix of drinkers from 40-70 spread around the pub for the football results and domestic banter (something about a 12 bore), interspersed with attempts to identify the ’60s soundtrack.  Decent bar snack menu as well.

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Congleton youth fail to identify the Beatles track

(“It was “Mrs Robinson” !!!). They did no better with “It’s Getting Better“.  I despair of the youth of today and their musical knowledge.

Typical proper pub interiors in the classic Joules style.

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Bench seating

Though my notes say “busy interior” as well.  Perhaps a bit of overkill on the memorabilia.

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It is you know

I always go for the Pale, another cool NBSS 3.5 here as 2018 starts with some decent beer, defiantly sticking two fingers up to Dryanuary.

Would the hot streak continue into Oatcake land proper ?

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28 thoughts on “BEARTOWN GETS A JOULE

      1. “I’m surprised either of you have the energy 😉”

        (slow golf clap)

        Good Lord. Well done sir. It took me two reads to get that (blush). 🙂

        Cheers

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  1. Wow, one that I’ve actually been to before you. I was about the only customer when I visited, so hard to make a judgment.

    The Olde White Lion was leased to Titanic, but has now reverted to Marston’s after a succession of short-term managers apparently made a cock of it.

    Congleton feels a lot more like Leek than Knutsford.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. It is more Leek (Staffs borders) than it is Knutsford (or, heaven forbid, Wilmslow); but Leek is like a little theme park of classic pubs. Shame Titanic couldn’t make a go of it. Not quite pub crawl material yet, is it ?

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      1. The PoW is OK – the decor is a bit “fussy” for me (particularly towards ceiling height), the partitioning isn’t quite right and I’m not the biggest fan of Joule’s beer, but they’re nice people and it’s a massive improvement on its previous incarnation.

        Historically Congleton has always looked more to Stoke (qv the rare sighting of oatcakes in Cheshire) but in recent years as Stoke’s declined and transport links to Manchester have improved, it’s turning into the outer reaches of Manchester commuter belt. But beer-wise tastes are firmly influenced by Boddies and Robbies, it’s definitely pale country and I suspect that was part of the reason that Titanic didn’t quite work. You can still get their beers in the King’s Arms (not White Lion), if you need your Plum Porter fix. But the local pub estate is not very tied and it’s not bad for a town of 15,000 to support 5 breweries (if you count the rural hinterland) including SIBA and WBA winners.

        The White Lion is sort of the heart of the Congleton scene – a bit scruffy and boisterous but has late hours and owned by brewers so the cask is usually in decent nick. They started brewing as Manning and then effectively took over Beartown and its Tap.

        I’d argue that you can do a pretty decent crawl with Lawton St at the heart of it – start at the Beartown Tap (especially if you can get Wojtek on cask), Young Pretender, PoW, King’s Arms, White Lion and then if you get up to Mill St there’s the GBG Hops & Barley bottle shop/micro, Spoons, Bull’s Head (newly refurbed by Amber as a slightly nicer Spoons – normally Ambers don’t quite work for me but it’s OK) and the Mountbatten/3 Arrows down the end is very “local” but the beer’s alright.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Excellent defence of Congleton (not that it needs defending, it’s better than 90% of the South-east).

        Interesting perspective on preference for pale beers. That has logic, though I’ve never really understood why Manchester goes Pale and Stoke goes Amber.

        The Young Pretender and Hops& Barley served me decent beer on previous visit, but not quite pubs to the taste of the pub tripper I suspect.

        Fussy is a good word for the PoW, and Joules generally, though of course it’s a small crime.

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      3. You could probably work out something based on water profiles, but ultimately there’s an element of fashion and “I’ll have what he’s having”. But there’s no doubt that growing up with Boddies pubs leaves a taste for pale and growing up with Banks/M&B leaves a taste for dark, there’s a really sharp boundary. Apparently at the PoW opening event for local CAMRA branches, you could tell who was from North Staffs and who was from East Cheshire, by the colour of their beer. That line is blurring a bit as people’s tastes become more catholic, but I don’t think it’s widely appreciated quite how striking it is (qv having a porter on as the one beer in Newcastle).

        But the GBG is about beer, not pubs, right? 🙂 I’d agree that H&B doesn’t quite work as a room, but the beer’s great (and eg was the only place I’ve seen last year’s CBOB in the area, albeit only on Twitter…). I think the YP does kinda work, although I’ve got a real soft spot for its sister the Treacle Tap in Macc, which is inferior in every way – but isn’t. Both get the balance between cask and evilkeg about right, the vibe isn’t overtly craftwanker like you get closer to Manchester whilst still having good beer.

        I don’t think there’s many towns that could have claimed, as Congleton could between Hyde’s selling the Bull’s Head and Titanic giving up the King’s Arms to have the whole of the town centre as free houses or tied to independents. Talking of crawls, they get together in early July to have an “official” pub crawl weekend, where you can win prizes for ticking off pubs on a card. It’s a good time to visit as a) they make a bit of an effort on the beer front, b)have greater throughput and c) even the more “local” places like the clubs are expecting strangers through the door. More towns should do it, it’s a great way to get some buzz going and the pubs only chip in £60 each to cover some posters, staff T-shirts etc.

        Liked by 1 person

      4. Really interesting. And the point about lack of chains I well made. I hope the Beartwon Tap gets back in the Guide, if beer is good again.

        The Beer Guide is definitely about pubs, but if you were choosing a pub crawl for a group of retirees youmight very lump in the Marstons places rather than the bottle shops.

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      5. Of course – but to my mind suitability for a pub crawl should assume that the crawlers are a mixed group by age and gender (a family group of “lads & dads” or the random demographic of workmates), and I think that Congleton’s core pubs do a pretty good job of not being ghettos that exclude one group or other. Even H&G is more Belgian café bar than true Herne/Potteries micro, it’ll have a CAMRA CBOB on alongside evilkeg.

        I’ve not been in the Beartown Tap much since Manning got involved but before then it was a bit hit or miss – being Cheshire the locals all drank the session blonde (Kodiak) so 80% of sales were that, but the brewery are a) cask fans and b) obviously wanted a good selection available to show off the brewery so the (lovely) dark beers could be either spot on or a bit tired. The new regime seem to be a bit more realistic about that though, and are putting more in keg. If it wasn’t for CAMRA politics then the new Cheshire Brewhouse tap would have a decent shout, its hours are too long for a proper tap but there are bricks of yeast in the bottle fridge for that authentic brewery look! Doing some interesting things with heritage malts as well.

        [no affiliation with any of the above, other than buying beer in the town, and being vaguely acquainted with some of the organisers of the Beer Weekend]

        Liked by 1 person

  2. “which presumably is where the Government stores all my photos.”

    Darn it. I was going to say something along those lines. 🙂

    “Black & White shop”

    Did they have any minstrels for sale?

    “The Prince of Wales is particularly gorgeous, though that’s pointless if a pub is empty or lacking atmosphere.”

    I was going to remark that the same could said good looking dizzy blondes, but… 😉

    Cheers

    Liked by 2 people

  3. I had no idea Leek was such a great town for pubs; my friend’s wife is from Leek, I’ll have to mention this next time we chat. Do you have a personal favorite Leek pub? I can ask if they’ve been there.

    Had a good chuckle at the people failing to identify “Mrs Robinson” and “Getting Better”!

    That really is a lovely pub interior. Joule’s is yet another brand we can’t get over here. I’m convinced I’d love their beer though, based on how tasteful their logo is. 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  4. So this Prince of Wales is the Joule in the crown ?
    But Jaysus,rump steak for £7.50.
    I never seen a steak in an Irish pub or restaurant for under €20 – even at the height of the recession.

    Liked by 1 person

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