I very nearly finished posting about January travels before the highlights issue; just reports on a very messy day in Congleton and a pint of Guinness to come.
This is a tale about my penultimate Beer Guide tick in Cheshire (the last one is in Wrenbury and will be a doddle; they even have a space for my campervan).
Now, let me be clear. These brewery taps can open as long or as little as they like.
What Pub suggests even tighter hours on Saturday. And I’d never turned up in Congleton and found them closed.
No, my problem was those hours making it tough to make it across on football days, but Saturday found City with a holiday, letting the salt of the earth teams like Blackpool and Rotherham take the limelight.
I followed the Millers fans (above) to Stockport on the usual packed train from Sheff, then took an empty on past Macc to Congleton.
Last time here with Stafford Paul, just before Lockdown 1, the mile from the station to the town was a joy.
On Saturday the drizzle was so bad I feared I’d have to buy a new pair of trousers for the first time since 2009, but it stopped just as I reached the town park, and by the time I found the Tap at the end of the industrial estate I was dry.
Let’s be fair, brewery taps on industrial estates, even in Cheshire, are not the reason you join the Association of UK GBG Tickers. Not unless you’re one of those Untippd obsessives, who are a bit like the folk who go to football matches and count the crowd.
But inside, it’s all a bit pubby. Proper seating, Beer of the Festival awards, a barperson who’s cheery and chatty about Macclesfield Town and her lad and life in general.
The bar is decorated with packs of Hop Trumps and a scale model of the scaffolds that Congleton used to hang tickers who asked for tasters in the 1770s.
I’m joined by a “sort-of-regular”, popping in for a quick pint before watching his daughter (“a midfield disruptor”) play football. Again, we chat Congleton pubs and the best curry house and other real stuff, and I admire his beard, the best since Iron & Wine‘s frontman.
Their flagship DBA was crisp and tasty (NBSS 3.5), nothing like homebrew, but I’d have left after the one.
But then I saw my other drinker with the fish’n’chip biscuits. And I HAD to have some.
Which would have been fine, but I also HAD to have a half of their gorgeous 8.2% Porter as well.
“Well, you have to, don’t you ?” I said, to a general lack of agreement.
AND an offered taster of another weird one. Oh, dear, epic fail.
Luckily, I didn’t trip over Jack on the way out.
Or the greyhound on the longest lead in Cheshire. But it was a close thing.
Still, I had a plan. Stop in Macclesfield and watch their top-of-the-table clash with Skem, and avoid pubs.
It’s always best to have a plan. Blackpool Jane told me that.