In this month of “Do something different”, I had to receive a jolt from a friend before I considered the obvious. The town I call home.
There has never seemed to be enough – in terms of outlets for excellent beer – to justify a wander. Yes, there were one or two excellent places to drink, but….. Manchester is just so EASY. Like a comfort blanket.
Time to change. And be a little more adventurous. So, with my dear old buddy Col – and after a fab & fortifying chip butty at Olympus (great chippy near the Bolton Interchange) it was back to the station for the 125 bus up to Chorley Road.
About 6 minutes on the bus……
Bunbury’s (393 Chorley Old Rd, Bolton BL1 6AH)
I’ve said it before. This bar has no right to be here, selling the beers it does. But here it is, 2 years on. And Daryl and Sarah have cultivated a loyal and devoted following of locals and not so.
Did you notice that? That little yellow pump clip.
It’s not often I start at 4:30 on a 9% abv beer. But this was “Sweet Thing (Reprise)” from Five Towns x Rivington. One of my #ISBF5 collabs. I grab them where I can.
And it was bloody delicious. Fruity and creamy as a fruited Milkshake DIPA should be.
I had the Thirst Class too. And that Hoppy Go Lucky stood up well to the beast by its side. Nice and refreshing. Tasty. I expect nothing else from Thirst Class.
Bunbury’s. Small, but perfectly formed. Tables and standing area to the front and a small comfy room to the back.
It’s a local in the truest sense. Vibrant with conversation. Friendly. And with a simply astonishingly eclectic and excellent beer list.
Not to mention the small pack…. Nor the Cloudwater, Lervig & Rivington on the keg lines.
The regulars might not thank me for this, but – for me – this is one of Greater Manchester’s unmissable Micro Pubs.
I’ll be back. Frequently. But tonight, we were on a tight schedule..
So. Back on the (just about caught) 125 back into Bolton. Getting off at The Market Place and walking through up to All Saints Street.
A new one on me. And one that Colin in particular was keen to check out. Located just a few moments walk from the main shopping areas of the town, yet tucked away, it took a little finding.
But my is it pretty.
This is apparently an old Court House and having attended at Bolton Crown Court, this is much more decorous.
There are two or three separate drinking areas downstairs one of which has the appearance of a conservatory.
Keg only with 10 taps, 3 for Cider & Lager with the remaining choices being local and familiar featuring First Chop, Shindigger & Alphabet which – for the centre of Bolton – until recently would seem ambitious.
This bar is well laid out, very pretty and has an intimate feel. Hopefully, they’ll become a little more adventurous with the selection (given the number of ace breweries in Mcr making keg – and some even more local, as you’ll see later). But this was a fine start.
And a little history too…..
Note then, back across to The Market Place. And down the escalator….
Great Ale In The Vaults
A rare example in a retail environment of local involvement. And a welcome antidote to the chain mentality that normally pollutes such developments. Bravo to Anne & Steve Simms for kickstarting this bar.
It’s kind of a “cell” or vault surrounded by external seating. And it’s deservedly popular both with refreshing shoppers and people coming just for the bar, the friendly staff adding to it’s attractions.
And that Porter – Midtown by Beatnikz – was absolutely delicious. Rich without being cloying. Bitter and roasty. Everything a Porter should be.
There was an excellent Wishbone IPA on that bar too – and I think Wishbone are superb – but as good as that tasted, we only had time for one.
Again – having not been for a while – I forgot how good this place is. I’ll remember in future….
So. Onwards. Back out and left on Deansgate and right onto Bradshawgate then right onto Nelson Square – swerving the Spoons…
Northern Monkey Bar
Been here before. Wanted to see if I was still impressed.
I was. This is a belting place.
Northern Monkey have been brewing for a couple of years now and it was a brave, yet logical step, to have their own outlet and by locating on Nelson Square, they’ve placed themselves well.
Single roomed with a raised area away from the bar, the first thing that hits you on entry is all the shiny steel.
This is also the brewery.
There is a nice range on the bar with approx 50/50 split own beers and guests.
I saw Torrside. And was sold. Colin had their own Popcorn Stout. And was smitten. To be fair, it was bloody lovely on keg.
The Torrside was that rarity. A light mild. And was delicious too.
7 keg lines and 4 cask is a good split too and whilst it was fairly quiet, it was still early on a Friday evening.
This place will do fine. And it’s exactly what Bolton needed.
Moving on. I’d heard tell of a Chocolate Orange Imperial Stout…..
Back right onto Bradshawgate then left onto Bradford Street. Walk about 300 yards then turn right onto Castle Street. Here lies Bolton’s hidden gem…
Bolton Ukrainian Club
No pics of the bar. It would have felt intrusive.
This is a Social Club. It regularly hosts groups and functions. It’s also the location of Bolton CAMRA’s ace beer festival (more later). But it has a bar. With 3 local cask beers.
And Ukrainian Craft on draught and in bottle. And THAT is bloody good too.
But I came for this
Chocolate Orange Imperial Stout. By Blackedge Brewery. And it was utterly lush.
At 8.3% abv.
And £2.70 a pint. Yes. You read that right.
The delights of Social Clubs eh?
This is – like I said – a hidden gem. A bit of a walk, but worth every yard. With beers regularly from the likes of Brewsmith, Squawk, Rivington, Blackedge.
It’s friendly. Full of chatter. Never rammed, but warm and welcoming. It’s a great bar. And – whenever me & Colin come to Bolton, we always end up here.
And rightly so.
And – BTW – I had another pint of that Stout. Well, you have to don’t you?
And – whilst I’m here – a small comment. Whilst I was out around Bolton on Friday, l learned that Bolton CAMRA have cancelled this year’s Beer Festival.
Whatever the Whys & Wherefores, this is seriously bad news.
I’m not a fan of big beer events, but I’ve always loved this event. I even helped to brew the beer of the Festival last year.
Whatever the reasons, I hope we see it back in 2020.
We’re halfway through Tryanuary. So get out there.
Do something different. Break your habits. Try a new bar, pub, beer. Go out there and support them. In January, of all months, they need it.
Next up, some old Manchester pubs. In a #Tryanuary twist.