The road or track to Rochdale as the case may be took us on a fine sunny day to the birthplace of the co-operative movement, although some of us went by train and one traveller took the tram we arrived at the same time this wasn’t planned it was pure coincidence.
First meet up was the Regal Moon the wetherspoons slap bang in the middle of town a quick snack and a dazzling array of heavyweight beers, Black Bee and Wobbly Bob both from Phoenix, award winning 1872 Porter from Elland and the standards Windermere Pale and Greene King IPA.
Outside the Spoons and facing directly opposite is the Wellington formerly a club now re-opened as a bar/restaurant, on first entering you are greeted with a very up market interior part Georgian sitting room and grand dining hall in miniature, however the beer on offer was a well-balanced mixture. A rare sight anywhere is to see a bitter, blond and dark beer making up the three hand-pumps on the bar namely Donkey Stone Bray, Phoenix Arizona and Serious Moonlight. Chatting to the owner he says some people do stick their heads through the door and are intimidated by the fancy interior, no need to worry there was some fine beer to be had in pleasant and decorative surroundings.
Up through the shopping centre past the recently exposed River Roch to the famous Baum a former national Pub of the Year. We sat in the conservatory at the back enjoying the late summer sunshine with our 7 Brothers Peach , Blackjack poker face and another Serious Brewing Moonlight. Not many people around in the afternoon so easy to see the interior of the bar which is full of traditional knick knacks , the pub is in the heritage area which includes the Rochdale Pioneers Museum next door to the pub.
A short trip back down alongside the ring road and through the cenotaph gardens, sitting opposite the magnificent Victorian Gothic Town hall is the Medicine Tap which is in the former general post office a concept familiar to the T&H branch but this one is on a much grander scale to our own Barking Dog in Urmston. A café/bar/restaurant which opens at 9am and serves beer around midday, there is plenty of the stuff on offer, two banks of 5 handpumps at opposite ends of the bar selling the same thing actually so five beers; Torrside Pale, Reedley Hallows Pendleside, Welsh Pride from Conwy and a Rammy Craft being among them. In the middle of the bar is an impressive keg row mounted on one of those brass tube arches or elongated ‘n’s, there’s probably a proper name for them which escapes me at the moment.
Now another treat the regional POTY The Flying Horse Hotel, busy in the early evening Serious Brewing was once again evident and Pictish this time Brewers Gold. Ben, the landlord got wind we were from T&H branch and after a chat invited us on a tour of the cellar and very impressive it was covering the footprint of the building and is typical of a large cellar had a bewildering tangle of pipes and coolers alongside the many kegs and casks. This was our last port of call and I think we had definitely seen the best of Rochdale, a Friday social is on the cards for the rest of the branch.