skip nav  

BITE user comments - lwalker101

Comments by lwalker101

First Chop, Ramsbottom

I note from the recent publication of the 2015 pub guide that the above premise is still listed? Under the terms of the Camra real ale guide this property should have been removed?

This premise closed on the 20th July (business declared bankrupt) No notification to the regulars or staff, the latter of whom all lost their jobs and many left unpaid. A few days later a noticed appeared in the window "closed for refurbishment"?

The premise has now re-opened (Sept 2nd) as the "Ramsbottom Tap" under new management although still owned by the same person.

Having been a patron since it opened I find the whole closure & re-opening process disgraceful. It is fairly obviously that this was a deliberate and devious act on part of the owner to write off creditors, staff & debt's and start again under a different name.

Having re-visited the bar (on opening night) I can confirm the following:

No major changes to the premises what so ever, the toilets are the same (hand driers still don't work) The decor likewise. The coffee machine behind the bar has been removed and several pressure taps installed to replace it (5 real ales still remain on tap on the bar) The downstairs bar has been removed to accommodate more seating. The food menu has been removed completely (no food is served) A large hype in the beer prices!

Personally it's a poor and minimal re-refurbishment which in my mind just highlights the owners business philosophy.

I for one will be boycotting this bar, the owners has no scruples or morals and his actions are deplorable.

14 Sep 2015 06:06

The Ferry Inn, Uig

The Ferry Inn is located on the outskirts of Uig near to the post office on the main road to Portree.

A small local bar attached to the end of a larger restaurant. At the time of my visits a selection of 3 real ales were available, together with coffee/teas & locally made cakes Strangely none of the beers available were Scottish?

The bar itself is a small single "L" shaped room, with just 5 sets of tables & chairs. It's laid out a bit like a cafe & does lack a little atmosphere, but I'm assured by the barman that at times it can get crammed. I noticed an acoustic guitar on the wall, which I'm told is available for those who like a sing a long.

The gentlemen serving was very pleasant indeed with no "tops ups" being required & other than one tap nearing the end of the barrel, the beers on offer were in good condition.

The gent's toilets are outside and a little sparse & cold, but they serve a purpose & were clean so no complaints.

To summarise, having tried all the other pubs in the Northern half of the Island this is without doubt the best for conditioned real ale. OK, it's small, but it's cosy, with pleasant & friendly staff. It's worth the trip.

Les Walker (Beer & Pub Critic)
BeerNorthWestUK - Twitter

26 Oct 2012 11:05

Barristers, Leyland

Listed in the CAMRA 2012 real ale guide I visited this pub for the first time last Saturday (23/6/12) from the outside my first impressions were good, upon entry however I was greeted by a noisy group of lads stood around the bar.

Now that said, they let me through & I was served promptly by a pleasant land lady who had no hesitation in offering me a taste of the 4 cask beers on offer. (St Austell, Wells & Youngs, Lytham & Moorhouses) a half of each was taken and all were found to be in excellent condition, so no complaints here.

The pub itself is quite large inside and is of open plan design, I'm guessing it gets busy at times as in places it's looking a little tatty around the edges. I noticed some seating and carpets were showing signs of heavy wear too.

I managed to find myself a quiet alcove away from the bar and sat besides an old gentleman at the front window, sadly after only a few minutes the noise from the lads at the bar became a major source of irritation. Nothing was directed at me of course & it was all good humoured, but the general volume and language was at times extreme.
So much for a quite pint & a read!

Sadly this ultimately expedited my departure, so In conclusion, It wouldn't be fair to judge this pub on this single visit alone as I probably hit it on a bad day, but I will be back.

Stereotypically however, it does appear to be an "old style" working man's boozer. Good beers, pleasant staff, but with an over exuberant client�le!

I will rate this pub fully on my return visit.

LW (BeerNorthWestUK) - Twitter

29 Jun 2012 12:20

The Brew House, Altrincham

I very much echo the sentiments of the previous post.

A former terraced shop it is a little short on space, with just a small seating area downstairs and a further dining room upstairs. The general d�cor however, with it's timber flooring, table & chairs give it it's own unique character.

Yes, it is one of Altrincham's more expensive bars, but the beers are from what I would class as "premier micro breweries" and to me they are worth paying that little bit extra for.
Personally, I would like to see more than two "cask" on tap, but in view of the bars small size that's probably impracticable.
In addition to real ale they offer a great selection of European & American beers, these are both on tap and in bottles.

As I so often find in the smaller type bars, the toilets are usually their Achilles
heal. This is not this case here, it was bright & clean.

As for client�le, it is difficult to gauge, as on my previous two visit's (Sat lunchtimes) it's been the older end to middle age bracket, although at nigh time I would imagine it attracts a more sophisticated crowd as it is quite trendy

Mat the owner/barman was very helpful and his knowledge of beers was excellent.

Overall, this is a great little bar, OK, a little pricey perhaps, but you get what you pay for. It's worth a visit. Recommended.

LW (BeerNorthWestUK) - Twitter

29 Jun 2012 10:30

The Unicorn, Altrincham

I have been to The Unicorn on several occasions in the past and as far as Wetherspoons go, this is probably just a touch above average, it's clean, the beers are OK, and the food fairly consistent. Although I do have an issue over the "chicken wings" description? Sparrow wings might be a better one.

The place itself is getting a little tatty around the edges these days and could do with some TLC, as some vandal damage was evident to a few chairs & table tops. A minority I'm sure, but sadly reflects that at times the less desirable amongst us does occasionally frequent here. This isn't unique to "Spoons" of course, but having never been here at night, it might be something to be aware of.

Anyway, no problems on the day of my visit (Lunchtime Tues 12/6/12) or on previous occasions, with most of the customers during the afternoon being of a more mature nature.

The beers on offer (as I so often find here) tend to be the multi-national generic types, rather than local micro's, with the likes of Abbott, Youngs, Ruddles dominating the bar, although on the day in question they did had a very nice Moorhouses on tap.

Sadly, I think the above might be a lack of imagination from the manager, when it comes to ordering beer, he/she is basically taking the easy option. Personally, I would like them to support local brewers (as many "spoons" do) and as such would expect to see a wider choice from the regions micro's, after all, the North West has some of the best brews in the Country.
If further evidence was needed, the "CAMRA" corner was pathetic, just a few beer pump clips, no leaflets or any promotional literature, frankly it was embarrassing and once again shows a complete lack of interest on the part of the management.

Considering the tired looking upstairs decor, the toilets were surprisingly clean, bright & almost free of vandalism, a credit to be fair.

OK to summarise, compared with a good Wetherspoons (ie.Northwich) it has a long way to go, but the staff were pleasant enough and it was clean, so aside from the generic beer range, It just about gets my vote, if not for beer, the coffee is always good.

This place has got real potential, it just needs a committed manager. .

LW, Pub/Beer critic (BeerNorthWestUK) - Twitter

13 Jun 2012 14:46

The Old Market Tavern, Altrincham

Altrincham, my home town, I have visited this pub a few times now and aside from it's sheer size and impersonal feel, it is indeed a great "real ale" boozer.

Both the beers & food are the cheapest in town (by a country mile!) and on my visit beers on offer were from Phoenix, George Wright, Timothy Taylors, Facers, Coach House to mention just a few, so no complaints here with the range or the quality of ale's on offer.

There are usually 10-12 ales on tap at any one time, so it's hard to find one that doesn't fit the bill. For the price, the food is nothing short of remarkable, OK, it's not the Ritz, but it's good wholesome pub food, plenty of it & excellent quality.

The client�le in the afternoons seem to be of an older age bracket, although on band nights, Thurs, Friday & Sat I imagine younger/middle age crowd come in?

Aside from it's size, the weakest point for me were the toilets, which could do with a make over, that said, they were clean and fit for purpose.

Overall? A paradox of pub really, catering for two types of client�le, one half set up for the regular band nights, the other, a more traditional style room for socialising. If it's a real ale you're looking for, you won't find a better pub in Altrincham, but If you like a quiet pint, then visit lunchtime/tea time.
John the owner is a friendly guy and a very knowledgeable cellar man too, OK, it may be a little imposing & impersonal, but for real ale & food, it gets my vote every time.

L.W. Pub & Beer critic (BeerNorthWestUK) - Twitter

13 Jun 2012 07:12

Fifteens of Swinley, Wigan

I'have been to this pub on four occasion now, Saturday (9th June 12) being my most recent.
Less quirky than the town centre "15's", it is more traditional in it's layout. It is basically one large L shaped room which has been individualised in to separate seating areas by the furniture and decor.
On my first visit a couple of years ago I found the beers to be OK, but always generic (multi nationals) on my last two visits however things have improved, with local micro beers now starting to appear.
The pub itself is bright & clean and for those that know me, the toilets were likewise.
The client�le on my visits (Sat PM) seem to be of the middle to older generation, although on match days (rugby or football) it can get very busy with a younger crowd. (the pub has a number of TV's)
OK, the negatives:
On my previous visit it was one of those of the latter, because of the noise I asked the bar maid to turn the volume up a touch on the TV, she duly obliged only to have the landlady come over and turn it back down again. This was not only embarrassing to the girl in question, but the manor in which it was done was rude. At the time, I just put it down to her having a bad day & so let it go.
On my last visit, it was just me & two other customers & the land lady, I stood at the bar for at least a minute while she was working something out on her laptop. She eventually came over and pleasantly asked what I wanted, my pint was quickly poured, money taken, then she hurried back to her laptop. (obviously something important) I waited a minute to let my beer settle to find it was well short (25mm) so I walked down the bar & politely asked her would she mind topping it up? To which I received an indignant look, she took my glass, went to the tap, gave the hand pump the briefest of pulls and that was it? She offered it back to me at virtually the same level?
At this point I knew I was wasting my time. Sadly, the beer was good, but the attitude of this women was my cue to drink up & go. Before I did though, I couldn't help but notice the importance of her laptop....Facebook!! I couldn't believe it, but that pretty much sums up everything, when a social media site takes priority of customers, it's time to leave.
Nice pub, good beer, friendly people, but the land lady needs a wake up call!

12 Jun 2012 08:58

The Boulevard, Wigan

Located on Wallgate, just 100 mtrs from Wigan Wallgate Station this single door basement bar is easily missed.
It consists of one long room and despite it's lack of natural light is actually quite bright. The seating is fairly sparse and is mainly around the central columns and side walls. I would imagine at peak times it is not the most comfortable bar, although there is one leather 3 piece suite which is good if you're lucky enough to grab it. The d�cor is very night club style (dark) so I suspect comfort was never a design feature.
There are a variety of gaming machines & pool table at the far end of the bar, there is also a jukebox. The client�le seems to be of the younger end but there were a couple of older real ale drinkers too (inc' me).
On the beer front, I have no complaints. They usually have at least one Allgates on tap (brewery just across the road) and often a Prospect too (also from Wigan) yesterday was no exception, with others from George Wright, Bank Top & Lytham. The Allgates was in beautiful condition.
The staff (young girls) were friendly enough and never having to ask for a top up always get's my vote.
OK, now to the bars Achilles heel, the toilets. They appeared to be clean, but they are definitely not an agenda item when it comes to scheduled maintenance. It's fairly obvious to me that the owners never use them.

In summary, short on comforts, character & decent toilets , but good on beer.

LW - Pub/Beer critic
BeerNorthWestUK - Twitter

4 Dec 2011 12:34

Bar Fringe, Manchester

Pretty much everything that could written about this place has been.

Personally I'm a fan, but I can understand why some would dislike it. It's quirky, cramped, noisy & pretty much always busy, but surely that has got to tell you something?
From a critics stand point, I agree it has it's negatives. To little space and a lack of seating means that at busy times it's standing room only, the toilets too are sad, but actually on my visit they were clean. Unfortunately, however you try, white sealant/filler does not go with dated poreclian. Frankly they look a lot worse than they are, but I'd have to agree with the earlier comment.
But that for me is about it? Regarding the staff, I've never encountered a problem (other than getting served), but I am familiar with the landlady in question so I can understand some of the negative comments. Lets just say she can be vocal. In her defence she takes no prisoners and tolerates rowdy behaviour with equal measure. Her brash approach & colourful language can be off putting I know, but she does have a softer side.
Beer? Four or five constantly changing casks on tap (usually micro's), there's also a good selection of continental and fruit beers on tap too. If it's beer you like you won't be disappointed here.
To summarise, short on comforts, big on atmosphere, great for beer..despite it's negatives, it's still one of my favourite Manchester bars.

Les Walker - Beer/Pub Critic
(BeerNorthWestUK - Twitter)

27 Nov 2011 16:16

The Star Inn, Glossop

A pub I've visited on many occasions over the years and l echo the previous gentleman's comments. This is a nice pub in a convenient location (right opposite railway station) and if real ale is your thing you are rarely disappointed here.

Beer? Usually four on tap (plus one real cider) and the range varies, although I've noticed over the last few visits that Black Sheep bitter seems to be a regular these days? Other offerings yesterday (26/11) were from Castle Rock~Elsie Mo, Lancaster~Amber & the best of the lot, Pictish~Columbus which was beautiful.

The interior here is somewhat traditional, but it's warm & comfortable and generates it's own unique character. Based on one long sloping room (main bar) it has a cosy snug bar at the bottom end (here you'll find the gaming machines) On my visit the client�le were mostly "real ale" based which tended to put them in the middle to older age bracket. As on previous visits I am happy to report that the place was spotlessly clean and that goes for the toilet too.
The young lady serving was also very pleasant and gave me a full glass every time, so no complaints here either.

Overall, a good pub, friendly locals & excellent beer, not much more you can say really....Recommended! Oh, just one small gripe? The beer �2.80 and upwards it's not an all day venue.

Les Walker (BeerNorthWestUK - twitter)

27 Nov 2011 14:53

First Chop, Ramsbottom

I read the earlier comments with interest and can advise the gentleman that as far as I am aware all of the issues he raised were fixed some time ago.
The First Chop is now well established as a real ale venue and quite deservedly has made it in to the CAMRA real ale guide. It is also a featured pub on the East Lancashire Railway's "rail ale trail".
Since my last report a number of minor alterations have taken place to the downstairs internal layout (to improve seating) and to both the resident beers (now Vedett) and menu (updated).
The food here has a good reputation and is all locally sourced, special offers at lunchtime & Tues-Thurs evening make it even better value too.
Despite the increased competition from the local brewery tap just around the corner and "The Major" (a short walk away) the bar manages to hold it's own with a regular client base.
Thursday night the downstairs bar features entertainment with some notable artists on show, and from this coming Sunday evening (5pm onwards) it opens up for a free band talent jam.
Beers? Usually four real ales on tap, with a real cider and a specialist keg from Thornbridge too, the latter's expensive, but well worth a try. The resident bitter (FCB -First Chop Bitter) is provided by "Outstanding" of Bury & is unique to them. Other regulars are from Elland, Saltaire, Pheonix, Allgates, Northern to name but a few. Prices? Yes, they do seem a little more expensive for the casual visitor, but ask for a card, if you purchase 5 pints you get your 6th one free!
Unfortunately the cards are date sensitive* so must be used within 7 days.
* CAMRA members cards last indefinitely.
As previously mentioned, the place is small and can get busy at times, this is usually Thurs-Sat evenings, at most other times you should have no trouble finding a seat.
Toilets? OK, nothing special, but I've always found them to be clean.

In a nut shell, a nice little bar, pleasant staff, good food, great beers and a friendly atmosphere..Recommended.

LW, BeerNorthWest UK

25 Nov 2011 17:28

Becketts Bank, Leeds

A short walk from Leeds railway station, I visited this Wetherpoons a couple of Saturdays ago and was quietly impressed.

This is a large single room pub, with an equally large upstairs section which overlooks the main bar.

The d�cor & seating is as you would expect from Spoons, mixed, modern and comfortable and is typical for the brand.

On the day of my visit the pub was fairly busy, the bulk of the client�le being of couples in the younger to middle age group.

I found the staff to be very friendly & helpful and I didn't have to ask for a "top up" once, which for me is always a bonus.

The food? I chose they spicy noodles with chicken, it was surprisingly good, served promptly (considering it was busy), was hot and represented good value for money.

The beers? No complaints what so ever here, a good range of 8 real ales on tap, with local examples from Saltaire & Elland to classic multi nationals like Marstons "Old Empire"

Negatives? None really, the only minus in an otherwise good visit were the toilets. They were clean but as I so often find in Wetherspoons subject to some vandalism which sadly at that time remained un-repaired. This is not unique to them however, but alas I fear a sad reflection on today's society?

24 Nov 2011 08:46

The Kings Arms, Salford

Quite a bit has written about this pub already so it's difficult to add much, but from a first impressions stand point I'll have a go:

Firstly, despite the demise of so many local pub, this place is somehow managing to buck the trend? (and has done for some years by all accounts) For the life of me I don't know how, because as pubs go, aside from the real ale it hasn't got much else going for it..or has it?

This huge old pub has an upstairs function room and two rooms downstairs, the main bar/room itself is large, but I couldn't help but think it must be a cold place in winter as the ceilings are 10ft high! On the day of my visit, the rest of the pub appeared to be out of use as there was evidence of work on going, painting? The front snug is a comfy little room with a brighter, fresher appearance and is popular with a local knitting club of all things?
They also hold mid week music nights (Wed/Thurs) and regular live events are held upstairs in the function room.
At the rear/side of the pub is also a small, but really quirky beer garden which I can imagine generates a good atmosphere on warm dry evenings.

The beers on offer were sadly limited to just two (from Bazens & Northern) as the other pumps were off. I must have caught it on a bad day as early reports indicate there are often five on tap.

I can concur with an earlier comment in that the owner/landlord seems a little confused as to the client�le he's trying to attract here. Despite the economic climate, the pub continues to hang in there, but how I don't know, the lack of investment is clear for all to see. From my stand point, beer is the common denominator, but that alone is not enough to save any pub. I hope I'm wrong, but personally, unless a great deal of money is spent, I think "The Kings" long term prospects are very gloomy indeed.

Finally...the toilets! The less said about these the better, grubby, tatty, graffiti strewn, no locks on the door, toilet seat falling off...quite frankly disgusting. One saving grace, someone had at least tried to freshen the place up with bleach. I can't help but think a hand grenade might have been the better option!

In a nut shell...A pub lacking identity & direction. Money & investment is the key, but seems unlikely. To me, it's future looks pretty bleak. OK, good beers, but not a place I'd take my Mrs.

Les Walker
Pub/Beer Critic
(BeerNorthWestUK) - Twitter

27 Jul 2011 12:44

The Cask Bar, Castlefield

An atmospheric little bar, positioned on a corner of Liverpool Road, near to Deansgate and a two minute walk from MOSI.

Consisting of one main room (with an outside patio area at the back) it's "tardis" like. On first arrival it seems nothing special & it's rather quirky interior is pretty basic with traditional pub tables & chairs adjacent the entrance, leading into a much more relaxed & comfy section at the rear (leather suites)
A lot of the walls are adorned with beer adverts/posters but strangely this helps to give it it's on unique character. As someone already mentioned, it is reminiscent of a pub you'd expect to find in the Northern quarter.

On my visit, the place was clean, but I have to say looking a bit tired. In my opinion it's in need of a "make over" OK, nothing drastic that would diminish it's character, but more a general titivating.

Jukebox? Yes they have one, personally I'm not a big fan, but apparently this is supposed to be one of the best in Manchester? For me, as long as it doesn't kill the conversation I can live with it and to be fair, it didn't.

I'm told it can get packed here at night, so unless you like crowds it's probably a good idea to avoid it at peak times. Luckily Saturday afternoons are fine, so if you enjoy a quiet relaxed pint this is a good time to visit.

The real ale on offer was limited to just two, Facers~Clwyd Gold & Northern~Nine Tenths Below. Both were in great condition however, with the latter going on to win my "beer of the day"
Note: They also have a good selection of both cask & bottled German/Belgium beers, so if this is your forte you won't be disappointed!

The gentleman who served me was knowledgeable, friendly & courteous with not a short measure in site, so no problems on that score.

Alas, the toilets are most pubs/bars Achilles heal and this was no exception. Situated downstairs in the basement they are tiny. How they've managed to squeeze a full size urinal adjacent the only toilet is beyond me, so having to share a space on it must be an intimate affair to say the least. In the bars defence, they were at least clean & fresh smelling, but they are tatty & graffiti strewn. It's obvious they're doing their best within the confines of the building, but for me, this is the bar weak point.

To summarise, this is a great little bar, OK, limited in terms of the number of "real ales" available, but in a good spot, quirky, comfortable and full of character, just a shame about the loo's. Still worth a visit though.

Les Walker
Pub/Beer Critic
(BeerNorthWestUK) - Twitter

27 Jul 2011 08:39

The Taps, Lytham St Annes

In real ale terms "the Taps", a CAMRA 2009 award winner, is a gem, usually at least eight on offer & more often than not, ten.

The pub itself is fairly basic and a little sparse. It has an "open plan" design (with timber floors) with most of it's seating confined to the front & side walls, there are also a few stools scattered about. You will also find a few extra tables & chairs in the outside yard area (covered) at the back of the pub. But be warned though, I have been here on numerous occasions and it can get very busy, especially on sunny weekends, so finding one of those precious seats can often be difficult, so be prepared to stand.

Despite the congestion at the bar & obvious stress for the three lads serving, they were cheerful & courteous enough, although I did have to ask for a "top up" on two occasions, but I put this down to the pure volume of customers.

The beers on offer where, house bitter & mild from Titanic, Green King IPA, Kelham Island~Pale Rider, Hopback~Summer Lightning, Lytham~IPA & Gold, Moorhouses~Blond Witch, Phoenix~Arizona and as always, I found their condition spot on.

Food? There is a small & reasonably priced menu & whilst I didn't try any on this occasion, what I saw looked really good & I hear tell that the home made "soup of the day" @ only �2.95 inc' fresh roll is excellent.

The toilets are OK, but probably it's weakest point. Fairly basic, but on my visit were clean and fresh smelling which is all one asks I suppose.

The client�le on the day was pretty mixed, but is generally popular with couples & groups. I've never seen any children in here which is a refreshing change. But it's a serious real ale venue too so is obviously popular with the more mature amongst us too (like me)

In a nut shell, this is a cracking little pub, OK, it can get very busy so time your visit. If you do manage to get a seat you're half way there. For the real ale drinkers amongst us, this is a must.

Les Walker
Pub/Beer Critic
(BeerNorthWestUK) - Twitter

18 Jul 2011 09:48

The Castle Hotel, Manchester

Situated at the top end of Oldham Street, this is one of Manchester's little gems. OK, it's a Robinsons house, so if you're not a fan (like me) it's easy to give it a miss, but it's worth a try.

This long narrow 3 room boozer centre's on its front room bar, immediately behind that is a small snug type room and further down the corridor behind that is a bigger function room (with small stage) The d�cor is a little esoteric but tasteful & given it's former look is much improved.

As already mentioned, the beers are all Robinsons and I'm not a big fan, even less so @�3 a pint. That said, the Old Tom, Dizzy Blonde & Double Hop were all in good condition.

The young girl serving was pleasant enough but was pre-occupied talking to friends at first. She also spilt my drinks and didn't offer to fill them up, but she did apologise, so I guess that's OK??

I haven't been in since last year so I was somewhat surprised & disappointed to see how tatty it was beginning to look? Flaking paintwork, grubby tables & a general lack of cleanliness throughout.

The latter was further compounded by the toilets. These on my last visit were immaculate, but on this visit (25/6/11) I found the toilet roll holder smashed off, graffiti all over the door & a leaking urinal (with a full mop bucket underneath) OK, it's not the end of the world & I do appreciate this is difficult area for management to control, but it's hardly a good advert & surely some kind of inspection & maintenance regime needs to be implemented.

The client�le? This appears to have changed from those early pre-refurbishment days, on my visit (Sat PM) it was largely young student types with no sign of the old stalwarts that used to occupy the front room?

To summarise, if you're touring the Northern Quarter, this is worth a visit, even just for the Old Tom. I just hope the drop in standards I noticed is just a blip and not a trend of things to come.

Les Walker
Pub/Beer Critic
(BeerNorthWestUK) - Twitter


27 Jun 2011 21:49

Micro Bar, Manchester

It's difficult to write much about this bar as it's so small it's almost insignificant.

The bar itself is situated in the indoor market section of Manchester's Arndale Centre, yes, it's restricted to their opening times too, but that said, if you're passing it's usually worth a visit as they often have a decent locally sourced ale or two on tap.

Unfortunately the seating area is very limited & restricted to half a dozen bar stools with a few additional seats on the window bar opposite, but this also serves the adjacent "take aways" so finding a seat at lunchtime is just pot luck.
On the day of my visit I did manage to get a one and on offer were; Darkstar~Hophead, Boggart~Rum Porter & Blue Moon Rising, Worsthorne~Some like it blonde, not a bad selection considering the size of the place & all in good condition too.

Contrary to an earlier report, I found the young lady serving very helpful, pleasant and happy to give out tasters, so no complaints here.

Food - n/a

Toilets - n/a - Available in the Arndale Centre

Offsales - There is a small shelved area at the back of the bar which is stocked with a good selection of bottled beers, but as someone commented earlier, they are on the expensive side.

Overall, it's nothing special, it's a basic watering hole & you pretty much get what it says on the tin, a micro bar! If you're passing, it's worth a visit as the beers are often good, but as for anything else...there isn't anything.

Les Walker
Pub/Beer critic
(BeerNorthWestUK) - Twitter

26 Jun 2011 18:36

The Swan With Two Nicks, Little Bollington

A beautiful pub in a lovely peaceful location, but can get very busy. Situated in Little Bollington (near Altrincham) close to Dunham Park and just a few short yards from the River Bolin it's in the perfect spot.

This pub has seen major extensions over recent years with the food/restaurant side of things now seemingly it's main focus.
It consists of a small but cozy front room, with a rear bar that stretches right back to incorporate the restaurant area. Outside is a huge decking area which is lovely on sunny days. The front bar is dimly lit, but has lots of character (and a real fire in winter), the back room less so. Refreshingly, there is a complete lack of games machines & TV's in this pub which makes it ideal, if like me, you enjoy conversation or pint in peace & quiet.

On the evening of my visit (23/6/11) there were 6 beers on tap, T'Taylors~Landlord, Wells~Bombardier, Dunham Massey~IPA, Dark Mild & Big Tree, Coach House~Swan with Two Nicks, a good mix and all were in good condition.

I found the bar staff exceptionally pleasant & helpful, with full measures being served on every occasion.

As for the food, I didn't participate so I can't comment, but I've read the mixed comments prior to writing this. All I can say is, it did look & smell good.

The client�le seems to be pretty mixed, but with a leaning towards the better off amongst us. It's also very popular with walkers & mountain bikers on sunny days and weekends.

The Achilles heel for most pubs are the toilets, no such trouble here, they too were spotless.

In a nut shell, this is a lovely old country pub, which is hard to fault, but for me there was one major set back however, the price of the beer. Hey, I don't mind paying a little over the top, but at over �3 a pint, the prices here are expensive.

24 Jun 2011 21:13

Top Lock, Heapey

This is a nice little pub & was voted CAMRA's pub of the season, which is understandable with the excellent beer choice on offer. These vary widely with local offerings being popular, on the evening of my visit I found; Hawkshead, Coniston, Bank Top & Moorhouses to mention a few. You can also find Wheat & Fruit beers on tap here too, but be warned, this is not the cheapest of pubs.

Situated on the outskirts of Wheelton village, this single room establishment as the name suggests is nicely sat on the "Top Lock" at the side of the canal. There are several east facing table/benches outside & on a warm summer evenings it really is delightful spot. The trouble is, a lot of other people think that way too so it often gets packed in the evening and at weekends so get there early. There is also some seating in the courtyard at the rear of the pub, but this is often shaded & unless you enjoy sitting amongst numerous empty beer barrels I wouldn't bother.

Since my last visit (a while a go) the toilets have had a much needed but limited face lift . The pub itself is looking very tired these days and is really in need of refurbishment, although in the present financial climate I can't see it happening.

The staff, although young, were all pleasant enough & no tops ups were needed so no faults there.

The food choice on offer could be described as good, wholesome, but pretty basic, apart from the curries which I can concur with an earlier comment, are very good. This is no doubt is partly due to it's Asian connection.
Bizarrely, the pub also runs an ice cream parlour from a side door at the end of the bar & on sunny days this proves very popular.

The pub also hosts an "annual beer festival" too, but personally it's not for me, having been once I wont go back. I felt exploitation was the name of the game, a charge to get in & once you've been captured, he charges above average prices for the beer. So unless the format has changed, beware.
If music is your thing, there is usually a live artist on most Thursday evenings which I'm told are usually pretty good too.

I've found the client�le is pretty mixed here, with walkers & dog owners frequent throughout the day. In the evenings however, the front of the bar is dominated by the locals and I have to agree with earlier comments, this somewhat cliquey & often vocal group can be very irritating as they seem totally oblivious to anyone else who is trying to get served.

OK, a warning, due to its location a lot of walkers/dog owners use the pub as a starting/finishing point. The landlord has obviously had issues with cars parking in the pub car park. So in a spirit of goodwill he has now kindly introduced wheel clamping and if he sees you (even outside pub opening times) he will challenge you. Unless you're actually drinking in the pub, park here at your own risk.

To summarise, a nice pub in a great location, if ale is your thing, you won't be disappointed, but if your looking for friendly locals, atmosphere, comfortable interiors, character, intimacy, look elsewhere.

Pub/Beer critic
(BeerNorthWestUK) - Twitty

24 Jun 2011 09:12

The Malt 'n' Hops, Chorley

Re: Last comment from Smokie50: "The problem, I'm afraid, is trying to compete with the much cheaper real ales at the Henry Tate (Wetherspoons) not far away. The real ales at the Malt & Hops are better (in my opinion)...BUT...sadly, this little 'local' just can't compete on price, and ultimately, Joe Public will always go where its cheaper, regardless of quality"

Wetherspoons...Please see my comments on ""The Tate"
To draw an analogy, I guess they're like the "Tescos" of the pub world? Sadly not unlike them, they can devastate local competition too. In fairness, in some areas "Spoons" can bring a breath of fresh air, but in others, and Chorley just happens to be one of them, I have to agree with you.

Lets hope the Malt & Hops can weather the storm as it would be a sad to lose such a great little community pub. I can also concur that I too have always found the beers to be of better quality here.

22 Jun 2011 13:15

The Royal Oak, Wigan

Not much else one can say about this place that hasn't already been said. At the time of my visit (17/6/11) the pub was undergoing an external "face lift" and the front of the building was totally adorned by scaffolding.

Despite the obvious external limitations, internally you can always rely on the Oak to serve up some interesting beers, locally sourced offerings in particular being prevalent. On tap were; Blakemere~Navajo, Weetwood~Cheshire Cat, Deuchars~IPA, Prospect~Silver Talley and another local who's name escapes me? The quality of all the beers was as good as it gets and the temperature spot on, they are more than happy to provide you with a taster too, so don't be shy to ask.

The pub itself is open plan, which is separated by participations in to three main areas. The interior is a little dull & on the drab side, but seating is mixed & comfortable with a number of strategically placed leather sofas, so it is possible to stretch out & relax.

This pub has always been quiet on my visits (usually Sat afternoons) The client�le by enlarge being "the real drinker" type, but I understand it can get very busy & noisy in the evenings and in particular on band nights, so time your visit accordingly.

The weak point for me are the toilets (Gents) It's like going back 30 years, they are very basic & look tatty, with holes in and no locks on the doors and one small sink with an almost useless hand dryer. It's a shame really, as for me it reflects badly on an otherwise good all round working boozer.

My overall opinion? It's well worth a visit, the ales have always been in good condition & the selection is usually excellent. A nice Saturday afternoon venue where you can relax in solace and enjoy. It's just a shame about the loo's.

Pub/Beer critic
(BeerNorthWestUK) - twitter

20 Jun 2011 15:44

Moon Under Water, Wigan

It's a Spoons, so what you see you very often get, they rarely excel, but they're pretty consistent, good reasonably priced food and usually the cheapest beers in town & the Moon Under The Water is no exception.

This is a large pub, with the front area reserved mainly for food and the side bar being more for standing & gambling (lots of bandits). The main lounge seating / alcoves are at the back. The general d�cor is a few years old now and beginning to look pretty tatty in places. I feel a make over is well over due, as the carpets in the main bar look particular grubby.

I have been here a number of times and contrary to earlier reports I read, the beer choice has often been quite good, however, I have to agree & concede that both the choice & quality can vary in consistency & it's something they really need to work on. As with most "Spoons" these days locally sourced ales (although not exclusive) do tend to dominate . On my visits, George Wright, Allgates, Coach House, Moorhouses & Phoenix in particular are regulars.

Be warned though, at peak times this is a busy pub and on more than one occasion I've walked in only to walk straight out again. The staff work hard here, but all too often there's never enough on duty to cope with demand.
One other piece of advice too, unless you like plastic cups, bouncers on the door, rowdy behaviour and an age to get served....avoid this place on match day afternoons!

On my visits the client�le is typically "Spoons" a good all round mix, with no one gender or age dominating. However, they all seem to attract those amongst us who don't know when they've had enough. It's not unique to "Spoons" of course, but they do seem to attract more than their fair share. Luckily, when you have money & a choice, the door is always open.

The upstairs toilets are relatively small for the size of the place and whilst some vandalism was evident, It was nice to see they were clean.

To summarise, this is a typically average "Spoons", but if you're passing it might just be worth a quick look. OK, inconsistency seems to be it's major failing, but you never know, you might just hit lucky. On a good day it's well worth a sample.

Pub/Beer critic
(BeerNorthWestUK) - Twitter

19 Jun 2011 18:28

Little Fifteen, Wigan

Owned by a small but growing pub chain, Number Fifteen is a breath of fresh air. Uniquely different and esoteric in their designs, they all have a similar theme, a multitude of seating arrangements, from stools to luxury sofas, scatter cushions, alcoves and quirky fixtures & fittings. Wigan's entry in to the market is a cracker of a pub and is very tasteful, with an "up market " feel about it. The general d�cor & cleanliness was faultless.

It consists of a large main room, with various raised alcoves which continues to the rear of the pub with another large room with more traditional seating.
There are a number of Large TV's positioned at key points throughout the bar, but these are not intrusive. On some (not all) live sports are shown on match/event days.

On the day of my visit the client�le was pretty mixed, from families to the younger crowd, but it also seemed popular with the older amongst us too.

The staff although young, were very friendly and courteous and surprisingly, I didn't have to ask for a "top up" once, obviously well trained!

Real Ale...OK, here's the double edged sword, sadly this is limited to usually two. These often vary from generics, to locally sourced brews. On tap yesterday were; Allgates~Simco & Prospect~Ore-Some, both of which we're quality & in excellent condition. In fact the Allgates~Simco won my "beer of the day"

Last but not least are the toilets. No complaints here either, you could eat off the floor (not that I recommend it!) Spotless, fresh & clean!

In summary, this is my type of pub, somewhere you can find a quiet alcove, a comfy seat and good beer. Currently the best pub in Wigan, just a shame they don't have more real ales on, alas you cant always have everything.
If the local brews are on tap, this is well worth a visit. Recommended.

Les Walker
Pub/Beer critic
(BeerNorthWestUK) - Twitter

19 Jun 2011 14:51

Anvil, Wigan

A regular pub on my Wigan real ale trail, it's hard to better. Consists of one main room running the length of the pub, but is partitioned in to 3 separate areas. The quietest being at the farthest end (nearer the toilets) There is also a large tabled courtyard at the back which is great on sunny days, although this can get busy too as it is favoured by smokers.

This is always a very busy & noisy pub, even in the closed soccer/rugby seasons. TV's adorn the front & centre rooms where sports of the day usually feature, (horse racing @other times) The client�le is mixed, but seems to be predominately male. I've never had a problem here, but beer, sport & testosterone is never a good mix, for that reason, I always visit early and leave by late afternoon.

The beer range as always is good here, hence it's CAMRA rating, on the day of my visit on tap were; Hydes~Original Bitter, Titanic~Iceburg, Allgates~One hop Citra & All Black, Buxton~Buxton Blonde, Laurence Olivier~Dear Boy Bitter, you can also find Belgian Kriek & Wheat Beers on draught.

Despite the congestion in the bar on the day, the staff managed to keep cool & were friendly & efficient.

As is so often the case, the toilets are the Achilles heel for most pubs, sadly on this occasion the same was true here. Overall they were clean, it just so happens that some kind person had urinated all over toilet seat & floor! Just unfortunate timing on my part, but something management need to keep an eye on.

To summarise, If you're a "real ale" fan, you won't be disappointed here. OK, it gets busy & noisy at weekends (especially Saturday) but it has it's own unique character & is well worth a visit.

Les Walker
Pub/Beer critic
(BeerNorthWestUK) - Twitter

19 Jun 2011 08:19

Penny Black, Northwich

I call in to this pub on a regular basis, it is one of, if not the best Wetherspoons I've visited. The beers on tap invariably include an award winner from somewhere or another & always include ales from locally sourced micros.
On tap yesterday (10/6/11) were; George Wrigth~Pipe Dream, Howard Town~Dark Peak, Moorhouses~Pendle Witches Brew, Courage~Directors, Tetleys~Cask Bitter, Highgate~Hanky Panky, Thornbridge~Sequoia, Hawkshead~Cumbrian Five Hop.

Sadly on this occasion, my visit was marred by one teenage couple who despite an obviously distressed child, continued to drink whilst their child screamed on! When everyone within earshot had moved to the other end of the pub they eventually took the hint & left (40 minutes later!) I could comment further, but for the sake of none confrontational neutrality I will decline.

Needless to say, pubs are no place for young infants, but sadly the "Spoons" marketing people wouldn't agree with me.
Unfortunately I see this as their single biggest problem and one that repeats itself time & time again. OK, It's basically boils down to individuals & their consideration for others or lack of it. But I think it's about time Wetherspoons took a firm line with this & other noisy behaviour & ask people to leave!
Here endeth my whinge!

Still a great pub, well managed with good staff....Recommended.

Pub / Beer Critic
(NorthWestBeerUK) - Twitter

10 Jun 2011 11:00

The Good Samaritan, Ramsbottom

Latest New...

I called in today 10/6/11 & spoke to the new tenants/owners, I am reliably informed that the pub will re-open next Thursday 16th June! The pub has been acquired by a London based pub company with a view to securing the premise free of tie. I'm told that "real ale" will feature, although on first soundings a little generic, with Wells~Bombardier & Black Sheep mentioned?
There doesn't seem to be any change in the pubs interior at this stage and no evidence to suggest it will be, so it looks likely that the pubs drab d�cor will remain the same. (Minimal investment? Suck it and see maybe?)
Anyway only time will tell, but good luck to the new owners, my fear is though, it's probably a little too late.

Les Walker
Pub / Beer Critic
(NorthWestBeerUK) - twitter

10 Jun 2011 10:09

The Good Samaritan, Ramsbottom

Breaking News.....

The "Good Sam" closed a few months ago and until recently was boarded up. Then on Monday (5th June) they came down & activity was evident within? As always in Ramsbottom rumours abound, but I understand that talks with the owners (Enterprise Inn's) are under way with interested parties* seeking to re-open this former real ale bastion? Undoubtedly this pub has potential, but in these difficult times, with pubs closing every day it's hard to envisage it's revival? Additionally, with a new brewery/bar opening in the village very soon, the limited opportunity that did exist, has now been lost.

* Bank Top Brewery, Bolton & a new concept pub chain?

Les Walker
Pub / Beer Critic
(NorthWestBeerUK) - twitter

10 Jun 2011 08:38

Sir Henry Tate, Chorley

A busy "Wetherpoons" in the centre of Chorley, with so many around these days it's often hard to distinguish one from another, as consistency is the Company name of the game.

This large purpose built two storey establishment has bars on each floor, the upstairs facility however is usually only staffed at busy times. Real ale is exclusively served at the large bar on the ground floor.

The range of beers on tap varies quite widely, but more often than not they are sourced locally. On tap on my visit (4/6/11) were; Phoenix~White Tornado, Coach House~Dick Turpin & Blueberry Classic Bitter, Thwaites~Wainwright, George Wright~Pure Blond & Blonde Moment, Ossett~Yorkshire Blonde, plus the usual generics.

Overall this is a pretty good "Spoons" but is so often spoilt by the inconsiderate types that seem to dominate this place with their foul mouths and drunken volumes. On the day of my visit (4/6/11) this was no exception, I managed to drink 2 pints before some teenage mothers & screaming kids got the better of me. It's obvious to me that ambience is not a desirable Wetherspoons attribute, so if like me, you like a quiet pint, be on your guard if you decide to visit here.

OK, it lacks character, but it has friendly staff, clean toilets, cheap food & cheap beer....What else can you say? It's a "Spoons" You get what you pay for, so don't expect anything else.

That all said, the beers were good, so it is worth a visit if you can find a quiet corner to hide in.

Les Walker
Pub / Beer critic
(BeerNorthWestUK) - Twitter

5 Jun 2011 22:27

The Malt 'n' Hops, Chorley

Situated on Friday Street, a couple of hundreds yards from Chorley Railway Station (Southbound platform) this pub has been a long standing shining light for "real ale" in Chorley.

This single room establishment has stepped alcoves on either side which gives the pub it's own unique character. Owned by Beartown Brewery, it offers a range of beers from their portfolio and usually includes at least one guest & often a lot more.(see below)

On the evening of my visit 4/6/11 beers on tap were; Beartown~Bearskinful, Peach Melbear & Kodiak Gold, Wells~IPA, Oakham~Citra, Leydon~Nanny Flyer, Cains~Triple Hop...Pretty impressive for a small pub!

The young lady serving was extremely pleasant and the client�le very friendly, the only sad thing, it was a Saturday & England were playing on the bar TV, apart from myself only three others were in? Has something happened here that I've missed? On previous occasions (at similar times) it has always been busy?

Whatever the reason, my opinion on this pub has changed little over recent years, whether it's luck I don't know, but as always (for me) both the choice of ales & quality is been excellent. The usual Achilles heal for most pubs are the toilets, no such problem here, they were spotless!

Yet another good pub for the town of Chorley & for the range of ales on tap, it is well worth a visit. Recommended!

Beer of the day - Oakham~Citra

Les Walker
Beer / Pub Critic
(BeerNorthWestUK) - Twitter

5 Jun 2011 21:32

Swan with Two Necks, Chorley

This free house is one of Chorley's gems & it's not a CAMRA pub of the season for nothing. At the front is a large enclosed patio area (with Umbrellas) which leads into the main bar itself. The pub was recently refurbished throughout & is tasteful, bright & comfortable. A previous upstairs bistro project has now made way for an exclusive wine bar, this is fabulous with lots of character & features an elevated patio area which on a sunny evenings is just wonderful. The downstairs bar (which leads of the main bar) doubles up as function room/night club on dedicated evenings.

Other surprisingly good news? The beer prices are extremely competitive & as good as the nearby Wetherspoons, but without the associated problems you often get there (loud, fowl mouthed people, with their equally loud kids!)

Overall this is a nice pub with lots of character & just far enough from the centre to deter the idiots.

OK, if I have one minor observation, I do get the impression it is trying to offer something for everyone & in these hard time I can understand the financial pressures to do this. But in my experience it really doesn't work, inevitably it leads to customer conflicts of interest & this in itself is enough to put some people off. That said, I hope I'm wrong, as this loveable maverick landlord (Nick) his wife (Denise) continue to work hard to maintain this establishments well earned & enviable reputation as one, if not the best pub in Chorley.

On the day of my visit (4/6/11), on tap where a Moorhouses~Pendle Witches Brew, Pride of Pendle, Blond Witch & Spring Fair & Bank Top~Flat Cap. Prospect~Silver Talley is due on.

Oh, one final note, often it's the toilets that betray a pubs true identity, none of it here though, they were spotless & a credit to the owners, well done!

My verdict? Well worth a visit, especially on a sunny day, it's just a few min's walk from the bus/train station. Recommended!

5 Jun 2011 08:25

The Trackside, Bury

Probably the best "real ale" establishment in Bury, always a good selection. On my visit (29/5/11 - 40's weekend) the pub was very busy! There is usually ample room on the station platform but rain had forced people inside. I agree with the earlier comments, this is a soulless place & the layout does nothing to help, a single room, narrow with old church pews. It does the job, but it lacks warmth & character. That all said, considering the crush the staff coped well under pressure & managed to keep there sense of humour. Food is pretty basic, but fast, OK and cheap enough if you need a quick snack. Beer of the day was the house bitter, "Piston Broke" produced locally by Outstanding of Bury, followed closely by "Mad Monk" a premium stout from Allgates of Wigan. All in all a good pub/bar...OK, cramped, noisy and impersonal, but the beers make it well worth a visit.
Pub/Beer critic
(BeerNorthWestUK) - Twitter

30 May 2011 07:56

The Robert Peel, Bury

I have visited the pub on several occasion and usually there's a pretty good selection of cask ales on tap. I called in yesterday afternoon (29/5/11) and found only two available? Although 5 hand pumps had clips on saying "coming soon"? What's all that about? I'm guessing no one could change a barrel? It was very busy, staff were over stretched & the beer selection was poor...but no excuse, come on "Spoons" you can do better then this, on this occasion, a big disappointment.
Pub/Beer critic
(NorthWestBeerUK) - Twitter

30 May 2011 07:26

Hare & Hounds, Ramsbottom

When it comes to real ale, there are few pubs nationwide that provide the drinker with such a varied choice. (10 on tap) Ales are usually sourced from micro breweries, with Yorkshire being a popular choice. It has won both a cask marque award & is also in the CAMRA 2011 real ale quide.

The pub is large with a central bar and an open plan interior, at the front is a sports section with a large TV, with the rear & left side consisting of mixed seating & dining & on the right a small pool table & the toilets. Outside it also has a rear patio table/bench area. The pub is clean & comfortable but impersonal & unwelcoming? It seems to lack character and I'm sure the number of gambling & games machines don't help with this.

The pub does enjoy it's regular patronage but its client�le base is a little transient, with sunny days & match days/nights (Sky TV) in particular attracting large numbers. Getting to the bar when football is on can be horrendous.

Further, on my visits I've noticed some Staff pre-occupied with their mobile phones or talking to each other rather than serving people. This is major irritation which is often compounded by them consistently serving short pints & asking for "top ups". Whilst not a major crime, it's important attention to detail (or lack of it) and it's something the manager needs to address or people will eventually vote with their feet & drink elsewhere.

Contrary to other reports, I found the choice of food quite reasonable, however the portion quality/size/prices were disappointing, there is definitely room for improvement here. In my opinion the menu needs updating, simplifying and the prices reducing, unlikely to happen though.

Aside from the latter negative gripes, overall this is a good pub (and worth a visit) located at the foot of Holcombe Hill on the outskirts of Ramsbottom, with a convenient bus stop outside the front door (474/474 Bury-Ramsbottom) there's no excuse.

Pub/Beer critic
(BeerNorthWestUK) - Twitter

22 May 2011 15:07

The Continental Pub, Preston

Without doubt the best pub in Preston & if not the North West. A bit of a trek, but the walk through Avenham Park makes it all worth while. (15mins from railway station)

Situated on the River Ribble & adjacent the railway viaduct it's peaceful location is ideal & far enough away from the City centre to deter the "Sat night loonies" That said, don't be fooled, this pub is very popular & gets packed at weekends.

Usually there are between 5 - 7 micro beers on tap, these vary widely, although beers from Pictish (Rochdale) & Marble (Manchester) feature regularly, the house brew (Continental) is excellent.

The pub is deceptively large & features a comfortable lounge bar, main bar, restaurant area, conservatory,a large outside patio, outside benches & grassed area. There is also a large rear function room which is home to the very popular annual beer festival. A good selection of food & beers are always available.

This is a great pub & well worth a visit, the only downside? There never seems to be enough staff at busy periods, the bar can get very crowed & trying to get served can be a nightmare. Recommended - But visit off peak!

Les Walker
Pub/Beer critic
(BeerNorthWestUK) - Twitter

22 May 2011 12:50

Thomas Drummond, Fleetwood

Generally, what you see is what you get with Wetherspoons, this is no exception. At the time of my visit (5pm Sat) it was very busy (as with most "spoons")and a drunk singing solo in the corner did nothing to promote the pub either.

That said, the staff were pleasant enough although a recently introduced "CAMRA" concessionary discount of 50p (to compete with the Strawberry Gardens) hadn't been transmitted to all of them.

The variety of beers on tap were personally a little disappointing, with too many dark or generic types for me. That said the only light ale on tap, a George Wright brew was very good.

Overall a good but typical "spoons", just the limited choice of beers & dodgy client�le that let it down for me.

Les Walker
Pub /Beer critic
(NorthWestBeerUK) - Twitter

22 May 2011 12:18

Penny Black, Northwich

As far as Wetherspoons go, this must rate very highly in their pub portfolio.

With "Spoons" all too often it is the managers who let the side down, but with this pub you have no such problem. He knows his ales & he trains his staff well, in fact, pretty exceptional for a "spoons" a good team effort all round.

The range of ales on tap here is wide & varied with no one brewery dominating, that said, there is usually a local "micro brew" on tap together with a regular supply of national award winners too. The pub often hold theme weekends too where specific breweries supply their whole range, recent events have seen George Wright & Hawkshead.

As with all "spoons" it get very busy & noisy at peak times and as always attracts the less desirable amongst us (nationwide "spoons" problem). Luckily the pub apply's a tolerant but firm policy on anti-social & to date I have never encountered a problem & I have been many times.

The pub was quite rightly given "CAMRA" pub status & is featured in their guide, this is reflected by the overall drinking experience, the selection, quality & consistency of the ales on tap. If you like real ale, you won't be disappointed here.

The only problem I can foresee? Can Wetherspoons hold on to their manager? If he leaves, the focus may go with him? Fingers crossed this doesn't happen, so until then enjoy. I recommended a visit.

Les Walker
Beer / Pub critic
(BeerNorhWestUK) - Twitter

22 May 2011 11:21

Strawberry Gardens, Fleetwood

On first viewing, this large imposing pub is a little intimidating & in past has suffered from a somewhat dubious reputation.

That said, it was recently taken over (April 2011) by the new owner/landord (Dave Shaw) and has been refurbished to a high standard. This establishment is now on the way up and is a must for the "real ale" drinker. With close links to the Fuzzy Duck brewery (Poulton) you will find the full range of their beer portfolio on tap here, including a range of guest beers from selected micro brewers nationwide. On the day of my visit 10 cask's ales were available and at peak times visitors can find up to 12!

The future of this pub now looks assured with plans for a new kitchen & restaurant area, together with upstairs function room & conference suite. There is even talk of the Fuzzy Duck brewery moving into the building too?

The pub plays host to the local folk club on Thursday evenings and a Sunday evening "jam" night is proving very popular.

The icing on the cake for drinkers? Well not only the choice available, but all card carrying CAMRA members are entitled to .50p discount off every pint. Wetherspoons eat you heart out!

22 May 2011 07:42

First Chop, Ramsbottom

The First Chop continues to grow from strengh to strength, a great little bar which continues to surprise with an ever expanding real ale selection. Richard (owner) has recently re-vamped & freshened the decour, with changes in seating arrangements, a new bar downstairs & with much needed improvements to the ladies & disabled toilets which were in a shabby state. (an important issue for lady visitors) Some supply issues have seen changes to resident pilsners, wheat & fruit beers, which are now being supplied by Outstanding Brewery (Bury) badged under the a "First Chop" label. These are excellent beers however, brewed to the very highest standards.
Regular guest ales are usually supplied by local breweries, including; Bank Top, Millstone, Elland, Allgates, Phoenix, Pictish, Osset, Thwaites & occasionally those from further away like Brew Dog.
Without doubt this bar has set the standards for real ale in Ramsbottom, proof of that is the recent arrival of a micro brewery (and bar soon) "The Oaks" real ale theme pub, The Good Samaritin's re-birth & the ever popular stallwart "The Major"

Hopefully the regeneration of a real ale in Ramsbottom will only serve to strengthen "The First Chops" position as the leading bar in the town. It's popularity is a much needed boost for a town that only a couple of years ago was a vitual real ale dessert.

23 Dec 2010 21:43

The Good Samaritan, Ramsbottom

At last life has returned to this small community pub, former temporary manager Ellis has now returned and taken over as the tennant. What a transformation, four real ales usually on tap & at weekends often five. Golden Pippin (Copper Dragon) is always on tap, with local guest beers usually from Millstone, Phoenix, Osset, Elland & Bank Top. The pub shows live sports events and has a quite back room for those who just like to relax. Whilst not in the 2011 Camra real guide, it can only be a matter of time before you see this beer oasis re-appear.

23 Dec 2010 21:13

First Chop, Ramsbottom

Further to my earlier review this year, please find below an update;
Plans in the near future are to have 5 real ales on tap, with the original requirement for Twaites to supply 2 of them having been removed. Richard, the owner, has a desire to source local breweries, so you will find no generic "national" beers here. Regular suppliers include; Millstone, Bank Top, Pheonix, Storm, Thornbridge, Elland, Pictish, Outstanding, Premier, Allgates to name a few.
Outstanding Brewery (Bury) supply the house German Style Wheat Beer "White" and their awarding winning "Pilsner", both of which are always available & are excellent, if not a little pricey.
A recent menu change too has proved very popular with the regulars & the introduction of "cards, crib & board games" is seen as an additional bonus to some who seek the bar at off peak times.
In these hard times it's refreshing to find a bar which is actually trying to buck the trends...If you enjoy a quiet hour, to read a paper, surf the web, or play a game of cards whilst at the same time enjoying a good pint, Tuesday, Wednesday & sometimes Thursday evenings are the times for you.
Having said all that, some minor negative feedback, the toilets could do with a make over and from a "beer drinkers" ctritcal standpoint, the cask ales are a little too cold, other than that, an excellent bar, well done.

27 Jun 2010 12:52

The Good Samaritan, Ramsbottom

This once great "working mans" pub lost its way when it closed in 2007. That said, it's now open again & is on it's way back. A change of heart by the present landord has seen big improvements recently in the beer varieties. Usually a minimum of 3 x cask ales can be found on tap ay any one time, but sometimes as many as 5! The introduction of bar snacks in Feb 2010 has helped improve trade even further. A small friendly local, featuring 3 rooms, main lounge, a pool room & small side room. The latter features a wide screen TV & live soccer/rugby matches are reguarly screened. The pub itself is a bit tired and in desperate need of a "make over" But who knows, if the pub continues to improve, the owners (Enterprise) might just get their hands in their pockets? Although I doubt it!

22 Feb 2010 16:35

First Chop, Ramsbottom

Small bar, but usually 4 x cask ales on (2 x Thwaites 2 x guests) good selection of european bottled beers, 2 x german lagers, wheat & strawberry beers both on tap too. Excellent Lancashire Tapas available (very popular). Can get very busy & noisy on Fri, Sat nights. Regular artist appearences, contact the First Chop directly for futher information.

22 Feb 2010 16:14

Back to lwalker101's profile