The Road to Wigan Beer – The Allgates Brewery Beer Festival/Pub Crawl 2014

The Festival started on the 17th April 2014, it runs till the 27th April 2014.

If you can’t catch it, because of some geographical reason being the only fit excuse, then it will come around again (hopefully) in October.

This is the festival’s 1 year anniversary, but as it appears to be a bi-annual event the idea of an anniversary is rather moot.

I first went when it first started, last April, but then I only took in 3 of the pubs on the tour.

I then took in all 7 pubs last October, which I did a week after the bus and decided to rely on public transport – you can read about those exploits by clicking on this whole, entire sentence.

This year I decided to get on the bus. It was a shame that the Jolly Nailor of Atherton (pronounced a-THER-tun, not ath-er-ton) decided not to take part this time around, but that didn’t stop me going and still managing to do all 7 pubs – plus some additional ropey ones in Wigan town centre.

Now if you want a proper review, with photos and proper descriptions of the beer then go to this link for ‘Beers Manchester’ and his review of exactly the same day, and actually, more or less the same drinks.

Just a quick one at The Anvil and it was the 4.3% Bourbon Milk Stout by Sonnet 43 Brew House. I worry about drinking my type of drink first, everything will always be judged by it. What a gloriously sweet and full stout.

Then it was off to catch Old Wigan Bus. In any decade I don’t know where orange and brown was every considered a good colour scheme. Still, it brought back days of yore when sherbet was my drug of choice, but given that sugar is the new dietary evil I suppose alcohol deserves the break for a while.

Off to Crooke Hall Inn. I noted that some people chose to eat here. I’d eaten at Crooke Hall last year and it was a monster of a lamb shank that really set the day off to a good start. But with so many of Allgates Brewery pubs doing food, I thought it only fair to ‘save myself’ and to eat a meal at a place I hadn’t tried yet…more on that later.

Crooke Hall is built on the canal, it was typical that what was a sunny and calm day most of the time chose our visit to this pub to actually become over cast and a bit windy.

I got a fair few halves down my in this place – trying as many of the 11 pumps that were on offer than were new to me.

Anarchy Brew Co was first with the Blonde Star. A 4/1% IPA that went down very quickly and was a good balance to the other pale ale I had…

…the Pacific Pale Ale (4.5%) by ShinDigger Brewing Co. This was a massively popular drink.

Getting off a bus with a load of beer drinkers you can be guaranteed 2 things – a good laugh and a ready-made queue (either for the toilet or the bar). Upon entering Crooke Hall, it turned out that every one had gone for the Pacific Pale.

I had had it before at The Love Beer Festival in Chorlton, for free – on keg.

Getting it on cask was a no brainer and obviously you get all the full fruity flavours when it is served at a more reasonable temperature. Now I just have to find the West Coast Pale Ale – which is also on at the festival, just a question of keeping an eye out for when it comes on.

An Elderflower Blonde (4.0%) by Saltaire Brewery was very refreshing. Having never had Elderflowers, I can now say I have, the taste and the smell were wonderful, a good sensory assault.

Next up were Pictish Brewing with the 4.0% Lubelski. Pictish had it all to play for. They’ve set themselves up for a fall because every beer I’ve had from them is wonderful. Maybe it’s the Rochdale water, most probably its the talent of the brewers (I hear they swapped brewers recently, but I’ve not noticed any drop off). The over-riding thing I get from Pictish is the smoothness of their drinks. They can be any variation of hops, malts, water, barley; but in the end they always go down very well and the Lubelski was no exception.

Finally came the Risky Blond (4.4%) from the people of Fool Hardy Brewery. Another well-balanced, quickly drunk pale ale.

Back on to the bus for the big journey to The Union Arms.

This was a challenge for the bladder. With every twist and turn of the well-known roads, with every revolution of the wheels on the bus going round and round, I got that bit more on edge.

Off the bus and into the toilet I went – leading a veritable troupe of punters behind me.

Couple of ‘off-programme’ brews were had in here. Elland Brewery had 4 on the programme but Beyond The Pale (4.2%) was not one of them. Still, not to worry as this was as drinkable session pale as you can want.

Also consumed was OSB – Old School Brewery and their Detention (4.2%) and a welcome session bitter after so many pales.

Because of the set-up of the bar in The Union, a central bar with rooms around it, you have to rely on colourful card signs, sometimes in lieu of pump clips, to let you know what is on the other casks. And after another quick toilet break (seal well and truly broken) I noticed that a Black Jack Beers brew had gone on the bar. Black Jack, in my estimations, are very much like Pictish, in that they have not let me down yet with any of their beers. New Deck (4.2%) which I insist on calling New Jack (a confusion between the brewer and the psychotic ECW wrestler) was again no different, another pale ale and another easily quaffable brew.

Some took the opportunity to eat here. I have many times and I was waiting to the next pub, in Leigh, The White Lion.

The bus arrived at about 3.50pm, food service ended at 4.00pm – bit of a blind panic came over me, ordering beer and begging for some food. Both came through.

Food at The White Lion, Leigh
Food at The White Lion, Leigh

Check that lot out. £5.50 each – or 2 for £10. No I didn’t have both. But I did mix and match between the all day breakfast and the Steak Pie. Look at the size of that pie. Big chunks of meat and rich gravy. The breakfast was huge too and then you’ve got a massive boat of additional gravy. Nice one Harry.

This would have been perfect alone but then I got what were probably my two favourite beers of the evening.

Atom Beers Pale Ale (4.5%) are another very new brewery, great website that appeals to my scientist persuasion. Yep it’s another pale ale, but it was a goodie, lots of hops, smooth and clean.

But then came the daddy of the day. Off-programme it maybe, but having a Chili Plum Porter (6.1%) on cask it like a red rag to a bull with me and this The Waen Brewery was the absolute dogs bollocks. Smooth, full-bodied, big gulps were taken of this, then the tingle of the chili came in the after-taste. A stonker.

On to the bus and off to Hindley to visit The Hare and Hounds.

I sat in the corner and let my food digest while I was brought, well I was told it was a Session by Allgates themselves, but I have no idea about the details other than it was a reddish ale and it was nice.

Back on to the bus and off to Haigh Village to visit The Victoria.

This time it was the Ostara (3.6%) by Allgates and the Five Towns Brewery with their Day At The Races (3.9%). Both pale ales and both drunk with gusto that belied just how long a day it was, so that is testament to how good those beers are.

There was hot-pot on offer, but I declined, still full from the meal(s) at the White Lion.

All that was left to do was get back on the bus and return to The Anvil.

It was at this point that my evening got rather odd. We then visited a few other bars in Wigan. Yes, bars – not pubs (to be discussed later).

Then it was back on the train and to get off at Atherton to make our way to The Jolly Nailor to complete all 7 of the Allgates pubs.

Do I know what I drank there?

No, they had 5 cask pumps and a rock band on and it was getting close to midnight.

I still went over the road to The Pendle Witch for another beer I can’t remember.

Then I went home – again I can’t remember how.

A long, long day. I’m keeping my eyes on the twitter feeds of all the pubs, to see if anything comes up that really interests me.

Thanks to all the pubs and staff and the bus driver for an excellent day out.

Same time in October?

Obviously.

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