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21-07-2014, 13:27
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Last Friday, the local branch of CAMRA took its monthly “Stagger” around the prosperous urban village of Didsbury. This will be written up (not by me) in due course for the local magazine Opening Times, but there were a number of points of interest that I thought were worth mentioning.

While I have recently celebrated my 55th birthday, I was the youngest person amongst a party of nine.

We were allowed to have a drink in the private St Catherine’s Social Club, where Samuel Smith’s OBB was only £2 a pint. The club also had a couple of guest ales.

The Wetherspoon’s – the Milson Rhodes – was probably the busiest pub of the night. The cask beer range was dominated by Peerless following a “Meet the Brewer” night. The Crisp and Sweet Action Sixpoint cans (although not the stronger Bengali Tiger) had been reduced to £1.49 each.

The Stoker’s Arms is a new pub in the former premises of O’Neill’s. One of the party was refused admission by the door staff as contravening the dress code, although someone less likely to start a fight is hard to imagine. This underlines the point that door control is more about social selection than avoiding trouble. It’s a large, airy, open-plan place that would not be out of place in London. It had two cask beers – Doom Bar at £3.45 a pint and Pendle Witches’ Brew at an eye-watering £3.80. Also had a few “craft kegs” including Korev Lager and Brooklyn Summer Ale (http://brooklynbrewery.com/brooklyn-beers/seasonal-brews/brooklyn-summer-ale) at £2.30 a half (which one of us tried). The music was so loud it was hard to sustain a conversation.

In the nearby Slug & Lettuce, the music was even more deafeningly banging – and it was one of the less busy pubs. We were served half-pints in unlined, fluted 14oz glasses, which is technically illegal. And a generous overmeasure of indifferent Greene King IPA might not be so much of a good thing!

In the back room of the Station, I opened a window to provide a little ventilation, but was told by the licensee to close it again as it contravened the licence conditions.
There was some excellent beer, including Adnams Southwold Bitter and Thornbridge Kipling, in the Dog & Partridge, the final pub.

Although these events don’t appeal to everyone – presumably on the grounds that you might have to venture into the odd indifferent pub – I always enjoy them as they enable you to “see life” in a cross-section of pubs rather than just drinking your way along the bar in your favourite free house. And yuppie Didsbury takes me out of my comfort zone amongst the seedy grotholes of Stockport. The Didsbury pubs on average were also probably much busier than those in central Stockport would have been.
Edit: it’s worth pointing out that this “Stagger” only includes half the pubs in Didsbury, so some well-known favourites such as the Royal Oak and Fletcher Moss were not visited.

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