The completion of the Greater Manchester GBG entries is always a high point in the pubbing year.
I know Duncan and Simon have been desperate to see what it looks like;
Of course, if you had to choose your last Manc pub you’d opt for a Brunning & Price on the Cheshire border to give you something to whine about, or a Proper Boozer in an unimproved town like Ashton-in-Makerfield, last year’s winner.
To be honest, Bolton isn’t looking a great deal smarter than Ashton these days, despite the wonderful job they’ve done in the Vaults.
But it’s a lively town in gorgeous countryside, and always manages to rustle up an interesting new Guide pub or two.
After last year’s dual attack from craft bar and micro, this year we get the Stonegate fun pub. Hurrah !
Not much fun at 7.45pm on Friday, mind, as 57 wall-mounted TVs show the Windies pummelling the English attack.
There’s little interest in Jason Holder’s double century amongst the youth of today, and at the bar the big issue is how to ring up the CAMRA discount on the till (I didn’t ask for it ! I’m not killing cask).
Perhaps because it seemed to end up costing about £1.93, the Bank Top was sublime, a straight NBSS 4.
I’d asked the cheery barman what was going fastest, and after he’d decoded the Fen language I was confidently told the Pavilion had last been pulled six minutes ago. I do like that level of detail.
Anyway, admire the lacings.
A rare playing of Penny Royal Tea too; the pub was nirvana (sorry).
Duncan had alerted me to the windows next door on the Three Crowns, and I stopped in the drizzle to admire them now.
But with twenty minutes till the train it was time for some preemptive craft in the pretty square housing the Spoons, and all sorts of rum goings on no doubt.
Yes, Bolton’s first real foray into the world of Evil Keg, and a bit of a cracker.
Even better, I know Duncan missed Northern Monkey that very morning.
A classy place, the sort of craft bar you’d expect in Colchester, and ticking over with couples sampling the taps.
Yes, flights, tasters, jam jars, home brew. I was in my element.
And yummy popcorn stout too ! It was mightily impressive (NBSS 4) but almost undrinkable in the time I had, though not in a bad way.
No, you trying drinking liquid popcorn juice before running for a train. Really.
Then I realised I hadn’t eaten since Stockport that morning.