The local branches of the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) in Manchester, Stockport & the surrounding towns are pleased to announce details of Mild Magic 2013.
Mild Magic is the annual celebration of an endangered beer style, cask conditioned Mild which for 2013 will see over 100 pubs participating in a "pub passport scheme" - one of the largest such promotions in the country. These pubs have committed to stocking a cask conditioned Mild for the duration of the promotion with drinkers able to collect stickers when drinking Mild in these pubs. At the end of the promotion, completed sticker cards can be exchanged for prizes including free entry to Stockport Beer Festival and a range of exclusive Mild Magic clothing.
On a relatively mild Saturday in January 2013, the Trafford and Hulme branch had a long overdue trip to the far reaches of Flixton and back to Urmston, including a chance to visit some new clubs (to some) now sending out the real ale message. A Saturday afternoon social does not suit all but was hoped a more relaxed timescale offers a better appreciation of the rarely visited stretches of the branch and we were not disappointed with what we found.
The Church on the Flixton Road is the last pub before you head out to Carrington. Once a regular in the Good Beer Guide there have been changes of management in the recent past and some modernisation to the bar area, the standard however was good with a three beers on hand pump, this particular day we found Everards Tiger, Charles Wells Bombardier and a very reasonably priced seasonal guest Marston’s EPA on fine form. Food is an important part of the Church’s business, served most days with well over half the area of the bar dedicated but not exclusive to diners.
Onward now to the first of our club visits, only a ten minute walk from the Church back towards Urmston standing alone in its own spacious grounds is the Flixton Ex-Serviceman’s Club, a large social club of the old school with a good sized concert room downstairs and the bar and games rooms upstairs which has the main bar where we found the real ale and our welcoming hosts, Harry and Pauline and some members of the committee. Up now to the first floor, an unusual feature here a chair type stair lift for less able members, you then come upon a good sized lounge with snooker tables to the right and four hand pumps on the bar. The ales on offer today were Tetley Bitter and Dark Mild, the regular Robinsons Unicorn and a seasonal Tunnel Vision from the Box Steam Brewery, which quickly ran out and was immediately replaced by Hook Norton’s, Old Hooky.
What with the low annual subs fee, the massive beer garden and the floodlit bowling green all in all a great club to belong to.
The majority of our hostelries today were on the route of the 255 bus and two of us timed our exit to perfection and caught the next one to the Flixton Conservative Club but in truth it was only another ten minute walk. This club responded to our mail-out with a welcoming invite to sample their wares, not many of us had been here before with one notable exception - one of our number actually lived here, his dad was the steward!
We were greeted with a very cosy club, small intimate spaces and an ideal one for possible future meetings, the beer range consisted of four hand pumps, two from Theakstons (Lightfoot and Best) and two guests, Lancaster Red and Caledonian 80 Shilling. There is a large function room on the first floor and four full size snooker tables to the rear of the ground floor behind the bar.
Another short walk or hop on the bus took us to the outskirts of Urmston town centre and the local wetherspoons, the Tim Bobbin named after a poet born locally whose real name was John Collier. This is an impressive example of the chain, plenty of well kept ales from all over the country, the speciality of the brand, it consists of a large open space and overhead the ventilation system is exposed which gives it a somewhat futuristic utilitarian look, before the smoking ban it would have come into its own. I personally had the Thwaites Nutty Black and Blakemere Two Tone Special, a theme there.
Next a slight deviation from the publicised route - across the road and only a few yards on is Chadwicks which has a deceptively narrow front but carries on some distance inside, the bar on the right is about twenty yards long so on a busy night would have plenty room for serving what would no doubt be a lively crowd, importantly for us it had a couple of real ales I had the Westgate (aka Greene King) Fireside, not too exciting but bearing the flag none the less.
Our final halt was The Steamhouse, set in an old railway property on the still operating Manchester to Liverpool railway line, definitely flying the real ale flag and how, plenty of hand pumps in this long narrow building divided into multiple rooms.
One of the keg cider taps has an unusual feature to me anyway, with the flick of a switch the said liquid can be dispensed with or without ice.
Flixton and Urmston cover a large area and this social was only able to cover a fraction of the pubs. By the time you read this, the branch will have completed another trip to the northern part of the area.
While the concept of sitting in the pub with a notebook giving your beer or cider a points score might seem a little obsessive, in fact beer scoring is a vital tool of CAMRA's support for pubs selling traditional ale, cider and perry.
Branch members visiting pubs is CAMRA's front line and the beer and cider scoring system is the primary way of those members reporting back on the quality of the real ale they are drinking. The scores provided by members are used by the branch to determine which pubs are deserving of entry into the Good Beer Guide, which pubs are improving, which pubs may be in need of more support. Not all members can be actively involved in staffing beer festivals, writing newsletters etc, but all members who drink real ale, cider and perry can help the campaign by submitting scores on the pubs, bars & restaurants they visit.
Why you should score your beer
What is Beer AND CIDER Scoring?
Beer and cider scoring is just what it sounds like - giving a score on the quality real ale, cider or perry that you drink. Scores are recorded against the pub, not against the particular brewery and ale/cider.
Some members like to give a score for every ale or cider that they drink, others prefer to just submit one score for each visit to a pub, rating the overall quality of what they have drunk during that visit. Which method you use is your choice.
CAMRA has developed a national scoring system to help members determine what scores to give a beer / pub. The minimum score is 0.5 rising in increments of 0.5 to the maximum score of 5. A score of 0 is used to indicate that no real ale was available when you visited.
CAMRA's guidelines on scoring are as follows:
No cask-conditioned ale available.
Poor. Beer that is anything from barely drinkable to drinkable with considerable resentment.
Average. Competently kept, drinkable pint but doesn\\\'t inspire in any way, not worth moving to another pub but you drink the beer without really noticing.
Good. Good beer in good form. You may cancel plans to move to the next pub. You want to stay for another pint and may seek out the beer again.
Very Good. Excellent beer in excellent condition.
Perfect. Probably the best you are ever likely to find. A seasoned drinker will award this score very rarely.
Recording beer scores
The minimum requirement is to record your name, your CAMRA membership number, the date of your visit, the name & location of the pub and your score in the range 0-5. The national scheme does not usually accept scores for cider and perry but in Trafford & Hulme, we accept scores for traditional cider and perry. If you are scoring a cider or perry, please clearly enter "CIDER" in the comments field.
You may optionally record the name of the beer and what you paid for it. The latter information is used to assist CAMRA's annual price survey. If you are recording scores for other CAMRA members, remember to record their name & membership number.
It is up to you how you record your scores while in the pub - scraps of paper, notebooks, on a smart phone - whatever suits you.
You can download the branch's handy A5 scoring sheets with space for several pubs and/or beers and/or CAMRA members (PDF format):
Trafford & Hulme branch is keen that as many members as possible participate in the beer and cider scoring scheme. Therefore we offer a number of ways of entering your scores.
The preferred method is to enter your scores direct into CAMRA's National Beer Scoring System via the WhatPub.com online guide. You will need to login using your CAMRA membership number & CAMRA website password, search for the pub you are in and enter your scores in the box on the right hand side.
If you have a smart phone, you can enter your scores direct from the pub - the above address will redirect you to a mobile version of the site where you can find pubs near you using your phone\'s location services.
For a detailed guide to using WhatPub.com to enter scores, see this video .
Alternatively you can submit scores for pubs in the branch area direct to the branch\'s Beer Scoring Co-ordinator by e-mailing beerscores (at) thcamra.org.uk
You can send scans of your written score sheets/cards, enter them into a spreadsheet or text document or you can just type them in the body of an e-mail.
And finally, you can send scores by post. To obtain the postal address to send to, please e-mail beerscores (at) thcamra.org.uk