Thursday, 19 October 2017

A voice in the wilderness

As other bloggers set out across the country to tick off new entries in the 2018 Good Beer Guide, a look at the map indicates, yet again, a complete lack of entries for my area on the Stockport/South Manchester border, and rightly so given the absence of any decent pubs serving good beer here.

A look at earlier editions of the GBG, specifically the ones from 1983 and 1990, reveals that the same wilderness has existed for at least thirty-five years, and although some "beer deserts" are easily explicable - the one on the other side of town, in the part of North Manchester beyond the extension of the Northern Quarter into now trendy Ancoats and across into East Manchester, is the result of deindustrialisation in the 70's and 80's and the subsequent demolition, conversion to other uses or switch to keg-only dipense of wet-led boozers there and the closure of some of the breweries which once supplied them (notably Wilsons, which shut in the mid-80's, and Boddingtons whose iconic Strangeways Brewery tower came down a decade ago) - the one here is less so as similar outer suburbs around it are not equally bereft of decent pubs to drink in, whether newish micropubs or ones tied to local family brewers.

The nearest GBG pubs to me are all two to three miles away, which realistically means a shortish bus or train journey, and a specific reason to go there, maybe once a week, rather than casually dropping into them more regularly for a pint or two as I would if they were within half a mile or so.

The extremes on the spectrum of a drought to a surefeit of GBG entries are, I would guess, the central belt of Scotland, where lager-drinking largely took over from the 60's onwards (the whole country only takes up a slimmish section at the back of the GBG), and the Black Country, where you can easily visit half a dozen in an afternoon or evening, reflecting the tradition of brewpubs which never quite ended there as it did in other parts of England.

My immediate drinking options are an estate pub and members' only social club, both keg-only, and dining pubs with zero atmosphere and variable, to say the least, beer quality, so my best bet for anywhere half-decent to drink locally in the near future is probably if someone converts one of the several empty shop units hereabouts into a micropub.


  1. The Griffin at Heald Green has been in the GBG in the past, although it's hard to see it going back in in its current incarnation. And you can enjoy a range of Greene King ales in the Flying Horse ;-)

  2. I've mentioned many times that cask beer is unknown in the less well off parts of Wirral. Large swathes of Birkenhead, Rock Ferry, Eastham, Woodchurch, Upton/Moreton/Leasowe (a Wetherspoon only). Probably well over 100,000 population with barely a hsndpump.

    1. I did ask the question last year on my blog whether people were particularly bothered that so many working-class boozers no longer had cask beer, and the general conclusion was "not really". Sadly, real ale has largely now become a middle-class taste.