Twice a year – around Easter and in October – for a period of 11 days, Allgates Brewery sources beers from some of the finest Micro Breweries in the UK (many of them new) and loads their estate of 7 pubs in the Wigan area with some fabulous guest beers.
And on the first Saturday of the “Festival”, for the last 3 years or so, they have laid on a bus, to take the foolish and the hardy, even the foolhardy, around all 7 pubs. A “Carry On Crawling” if you will! (Cue memes of Sid James & Kenneth Williams)
And – for myself & the Arch Nemesis – it is unmissable. No matter what else is going on. Like all of the Manchester Brewtaps that were on yesterday.
With the arguable exception of The Anvil (the Allgates “tap” in Wigan town centre), these are all thriving community pubs, each different from the others. All of them warm and welcoming.
Starting off with a swift beer in the aforementioned Anvil, we jumped on the bus and headed for the first stop in our own little “Carry On”. The Crooke Hall Inn.
(view of canal basin nr The Crooke Hall Inn)
I won’t bore you with detailed descriptions of beers. For one thing, I made no notes. The pubs speak for themselves, indeed, The Crooke Hall Inn is one of my all time favourite pubs and I regularly enjoy Sunday lunch there with my family.
Despite it being a near 45 minute drive from BM Towers.
(view of Leeds – Liverpool Canal from rear of Crooke Hall Inn)
It was in The Crooke that I had my favourite beer of the day “Beerhouse Pale” by Hopjacker Brewery of Dronfield, a really super sharp hoppy Pale Ale.
We then travelled on the bus between the 6 other pubs. To The Union Arms in Tyldesley, then The Jolly Nailor in Atherton, The White Lion in Leighton, Hare & Hounds in Hindley and finally to The Victoria in Haigh.
(Rear bar at The Union Arms, Tyldesley)
(A proper Dominoes table for crying out loud! Union Arms)
Now then, here’s the thing. Allgates spend a lot of time and effort sourcing these beers for this festival. But even outside of the festival, they stock some excellent guest beers alongside their own beers, at prices to make a Mancunian beer drinker weep.
(Crooke Hall Inn)
(Main Rm. Jolly Nailor, Atherton)
(Bar, Crooke Hall Inn)
(Vault at Victoria, Haigh – I got beat, BTW)
These are all proper local pubs that should be on any discerning beer drinkers lists. I know that getting out of that “Manchester bubble” is a frightening thought for many, but it really is worth it. Especially when you’ve got a bus laid on to take you around them all!
(White Lion, Leigh town centre)
And if this is starting to sound like an advertorial (like you would see on certain Manchester based websites), it isn’t. The only payment that I receive from Allgates for this, is that they continue to put on this bus.
And give me the 2 best days out. Every year.
(Hare & Hounds, Ladies Lane, Hindley)
On the beer front, my personal highlights all gave me food for thought for The Independent Salford Beer Festival (I’ll be sending “invites” in a little over a month), the highlights were….
None of which am I likely to get within that Manchester bubble.
For the more intrepid of travellers, most of these pubs can be each reached via a single journey, some on the same. (Anvil & Hare & Hounds – close to train stations – others via the bus) They do reward the journey.
The Festival is on until next Sunday. Each pub will (likely) have 3 or 4 of the beers on for that period – I’m keeping my eyes out for the Bexar County/Alphabet collab “Does A Bexar Shit In The Woods” a treacle & black pepper Porter. Bexar (pronounced “Bear”) can do no wrong in my eyes – apart from being in Peterborough!
I hope that I’ve given you enough here to understand why I went on this bus. You see, Manchester was brimming with excellent brewtaps over this weekend. Several people who fancied this stayed in Manchester to enjoy those. And I blame them not.
But they DID miss out.
7 classic local pubs.
A plethora of excellent new beers
Even more laughs
(pic : numberedart.com)
Even Sid James couldn’t have made me laugh more!
And, whatever else is going on, as long as this bus runs, myself and the Arch Nemesis will be on it. Unmissable for us.
The Festival continues until 3rd April.
So. In October, you know what to do…..