A trip into Greater Manchester this month to sample the delights of a multiple pub beer festival organised by Allgates Brewery and based around seven of their pubs in the Wigan and Leigh area.
The unavailability of cheaper advanced tickets meant a slightly later start to the journey. The 10.11am departure to Manchester was on time, but our fragmented rail system did not allow me to buy a Greater Manchester train/bus/tram Day Rover in either Sheffield or on board my train to Manchester, so a quick dash to the station ticket machines in Manchester was required, before the 11.15 Glasgow bound train via Wigan North Western station. Alighting at Wigan in overcast, cool and breezy conditions which lasted all day there was a short walk to the bus station for a regular Diamond Bus service to Crooke Village and the Crooke Hall Inn (CAMRA Good Beer Guide 2017 listed). Had it been nicer weather a pleasant time could have been had sat in their garden next to the Leeds-Liverpool Canal, but not today. Half of Swanney Running Beer was sampled which was a good none too hoppy start to the day. Back on another Diamond Bus to Wigan bus station and the adjacent Anvil (GBG 2017), a bustling city centre boozer. Only one festival beer on, North Riding Equanot, but pleasant and refreshing. Heading back to Wigan Wallgate station this time, a quick half of Butcombe Union (4.8%) was had in the Moon Under Water, a town centre Wetherspoons pub.
Having first walked straight passed Wallgate station as it was shrouded in plastic sheeting and scaffolding, a swift U-turn took me back to the station for the short ride to Hindley and the Hare & Hounds (GBG 2017). A small welcoming pub on the short walk into town, with a new landlord just getting himself organised. Allgates Pepper Lane Pale Ale (4.1% and £1.10 a half) was sampled here. Back on the train for another ride to Atherton. The station here is slightly out of the town centre but it didn’t take very long to reach the Jolly Nailor (GBG 2017) and a half of Serious Brewery Evergreen, a maltier 4.5% bitter. A bus ride then to Leigh town centre not far away and the White Lion (GBG 2017). The bus passes this pub on the left on the way in to town so it is easy to find. Another friendly boozer. Three halves were sampled here – Errant Comanche Porter, Doghouse (from Darwen) Ultra Pale Ale Cascade and Five Towns Day at the Races, which was appropriate as racing from Aintree was on the telly. Another Diamond Bus journey to Tyldesley and the Union Arms (GBG 2017). Allgates Dry Bones was sampled here, also £1.10 a half.
I had visited 6 of the 7 pubs on the festival list. Beer quality was very good throughout, all the pubs were comfortable and welcoming with prices ranging from £1.10 to £1.35 a half. From there it was time for a ride on the First Vantage service along the Guided Busway back in to Manchester. I alighted near to Manchester Town Hall and visited the Sawyers Arms (a Nicholson’s pub) for a very pleasant Black Wolf Florida Stout at £2.05 a half. Next up was the Gas Lamp which offered Drygate Seven Peaks, followed by the Waterhouse (a GBG 2017 listed Wetherspoons pub) for a fruity full bodied Bridgehouse Rum Porter at 6%.
Walking back towards Piccadilly I was tempted by the Grey Horse Inn, a very small bustling Hydes pub offering their Warrior Venture Ruby Red Ale (5%) and Yeaster Red (3.8%). A very pleasant end to the day. The Allgates pub festival runs for twelve days. None of the pubs had a separate stillage and the beers come on in rotation through their existing hand pumps, but I would revisit this festival again, but maybe not on its first advertised day of opening.