Early last week, I made arrangements to hand over a couple of bottles of good ale I had purloined from Yorkshire (Yorkshire Ales & Bierhuis) to a couple of good friends of mine (from WAY back), Mike & Jeff. Wetherspoons in Walkden seemed convenient, so we set a date for Wednesday evening.
However, the little devil on my shoulder (on this occasion, Colin) had an itch to scratch. He had spotted a Honey Porter that was on the bar at The Hare & Hounds. being a mere £1.60 return train journey from Walkden, I was only too glad to boot the beery conglomerate into the long grass. More Allgates for me!
Unfortunately, just before we set off, Mike tweeted that he had a ‘sick note’. We sent our commiserations and……carried on regardless, as he would have expected!
The bottles were V2 Schneider from Five Towns Brewing of Wakefield and Siberia from Ilkley Brewery. The V2, being for Mike was no longer needed, so we set off to the train station. Only problem was, I left the other bottle at home too! Doh!!!
15 minutes after boarding the train, we were entering the pub. 5 handpulls, all in use. 2 from Allgates (Ostara & Session – aka Napoleons Retreat), & 1 each from Castle Rock (Harvest Pale), Milestone (Honey Porter) & Abbeydale (Moonshine Pale). I’ve only been here once before, but REALLY enjoyed that brief visit! https://beersmanchester.wordpress.com/2013/03/30/allgates-the-road-to-wigan-beer-29032013/
I started with an Ostara by Allgates at 3.6% abv (not for the last time this week https://beersmanchester.wordpress.com/2013/06/09/the-birth-of-a-beer-allgates-brewery-08062013/ !), whilst Col hit the ground with a Castle Rock Harvest Palewhich he was more than happy with. I, however, was enraptured by the Ostara. Lovely and golden pale with a light “Burton snatch” to the aroma (that slight sulphur like aroma you get from beers from Burton – Pale Ales) along with a citrus hoppyness, It was a hoppy joy in the mouth balanced by a Rich Tea biscuity malt. Dry in the finish, hoppy and really refreshing. Whilst having this, Col noticed the Landlord (Nigel) who said hello and would have a chat later (which he duly did!)
Next up was another from Allgates, this time Session (aka Napoleons Retreat) at 3.9%. A mid brown / copper coloured beer, this is not normally my kind of play, but it was a really flavoursome ‘best’ bitter. Didn’t get much of an aroma. A slightly more bitter-sweet beer than the drier Ostara, with a dry nicely hopped finish. I can see why it sells well across the estate.
Had a nice chat with Nigel at this juncture. Really friendly bloke who learned his cellaring trade at the Edington Arms (next to the train station, 200 yards away). I can testify that he keeps a good pint from my two visits! We chatted about how he came to have the pub after the previous landlord (Greg) went to take over The Crooke Hall Inn (another Allgates house). We chatted about loads of stuff, but he had to “walk the dog” (no, really!) a patient little Staffordshire Bull Terrier was sat close with eyes only for Nigel!
Jeff now appeared and (for a craft keg man) really enjoyed the Ostara I got him.
(“What’s a Smoke Room, Dad?”)
I had another Ostara before I tucked into an Abbeydale Moonshine Pale. At 4.3% abv, this was golden and a slightly sweeter beer than the Ostara, more of a Blonde than a Pale Ale for me, akin to Thwaites Wainwrights. A nice enough beer and certainly in good nick, but I was expecting something hoppier.
Having apologised to Jeff for leaving his Siberia on my back room table (where it remains, in grave peril!), I tucked into a Milestone Honey Porter, the original reason for our visit! From Newark (quite close to where my OutLaws live!), this 4.7% abv beer was a very deep ruby, almost black, beer. With an Ovaltine like malty nose, there was lot of roasted flavour, slightly chocolatey with a touch of bitterness. This had been ‘on’ for 3 days or so and was in remarkably good condition.
Having a few minutes ’til the train, it would have been wrong not to have another Ostara, wouldn’t it? Is it TOO obvious to say it was my beer of the evening?
To summarise. This is the local that I wish was on MY doorstep. Warm friendly staff and landlord, two distinct spaces, a dartboard and a telly for sports fans (de rigueur these days!), it really is my idea of a local. And, with train fare at only £1.60 return, it may yet become it!
A quick dash up the hill and we were at the train station.
Thankfully skirting around the Wetherspoons, a walk up the hill and “Hi Honey, I’m home!”
On that note….’til next time!