One of the things that has been put on hold for the past few months have been my trips out to check on the ever changing transport scene and the even more quickly changing beer scene, but Thursday opened up a window of opportunity after the Christmas excesses, so it was up and away. I had three places I wanted to visit but the easiest was Manchester. So fully equipped it was off and out across the border.
Manchester has been the subject of one of my pub crawls before on 'A Swift One' so regular readers will have a rough idea of where I would be heading. And being a creature of habit, I started with a 'Spoons breakfast at the 'Paramount' and a half of some odious Christmas beer I erroneously thought was new to me. My next stop was to be the 'New Oxford' in Salford.
I had not been to the 'Oxford' since earlier in the year, and, although it has long been one of my favourite pubs, I was a little concerned after hearing other drinkers reports of the pub. My first shock was that the pub was open around 1145 am, it does not usually open till midday. That was a welcome sight since Manchester had kept up to its reputation and the rain was starting to fall fairly steadily. My second shock will become apparent shortly.
I was greeted like a long lost son by Jean the barmaid, who promptly thrust a piece of paper in my hand and said 'You'll be needing this, they are all available' . A quick glance around the pub revealed many fellow tickers..I had accidentally fallen across my final beer festival of the year.
I was totally unprepared for this. So it was a case of ticking 'on the hoof'. It did not take long for my system to kick in though. A couple of beers off the bar from a new brewery seemed the way to start, and I was pleasantly impressed by my choices, one light and one dark, from Manchester's newest brewery, 'Privateer'. Time to check on the list for what else was available. A quick glance revealed even more new breweries, none of which I encountered, or even heard of before. So it was time to fill in the chit, and wait for my namesake, the irrepressable Mr Flynn, to produce the goods from the cellar.
Soon I was sampling 'Welly 3' a 4.2% offering from Healeys in Ulverston. A little hazy and may be best called a work in progress. Better were Talke o' the Hill 'Citrade' and 'Alesager', the former with a good hit from the citra hops, and Deeply Vale 'Still Walking' which also impressed.
My next selection included another beer from Privateer, and Deeply Vale; 'Saturn Ale' from Townhouse brewery who I particularly rate, and confusingly a Rat Brewery beer which I had not seen in Huddersfield. All were good, and despite being taken straight from the cask, were well conditioned.
As they say, time and buses wait for no man, so reluctantly I had to say goodbye to the 'Oxford', my fellow tickers, the craic, and the rest of the beer list, and make my way back into Manchester whilst I was still able to reasonably function. A great way to end the year, and better so, for being totally unexpected.