News from pubs across the branch area.

While the forthcoming reopening of The Orange Tree is great news, elsewhere in Altrincham things aren't so good with no fewer than three pubs closing in recent months.

First to go was The Victoria on Stamford Street - primarily a restaurant in recent years but one that maintained a handpump on the bar and served a decent enough pint of Old Speckled Hen - it has been up for sale since February but remained open until June since when it has appeared closed. Now change of use application has been submitted by "Small Corporate Financial Planning".

The Victoria was followed by The Conservative Working Men's Club on Greenwood Street (not to be confused with the Conservative Club just on the other side of the market hall) which is closed and marked for sale.

Finally, the King George on Moss Lane near Altrincham FC took to twitter on 10th July to announce "Deeply sorry we have had to close but it was inevitable. Thanks to all #regulars #staff and real folk at #jwlees. I hope we stay in touch"

There was surprise in the twittersphere and beyond at closing time on July 5th when cryptic posts from Manchester's Odder Bar on both twitter & Facebook announced #EndOfAnEra.

As the dust settled over the next day or two, it became apparent that the seemingly popular Oxford Road Bar & club had been sold and closed with just one day's notice leaving a number of event promoters looking for other venues.

Trafford & Hulme CAMRA had been aware that the bar had been on the market for a number of months but the sudden closure came as a surprise. A planning application published shortly after the closure suggested that premises are set to become a Costa Coffee. Some staff have been relocated to the other bars in the Odd Group - Manchester's Odd & The Blue Pig and Chorlton's Oddest.

Altrincham's The Orange Tree has had a pretty torrid time over the last couple of years with several different licensees come and go. Things may be looking up for the Enterprise Inn's owned pub on Old Market Place with the news that the new team behind the pub is to be led by Chris Clish, the man behind the revitalisation of Chorlton's The Beech Inn.

Chris took over the Beech Inn just over four years ago after it had been closed for several months and many had feared it was lost for good. Applying his many years' experience and a simple formula of serving good beer in a safe & friendly atmosphere, Chris has returned the Beech Inn to what it was famous for - a thriving community focussed pub, picking up a CAMRA Pub Of The Season award along the way, a return to The Good Beer Guide and going on to be Trafford & Hulme Branch's Community Pub Of The Year runner up for 2013.

Chris's partner in The Orange Tree will be Gabby Burns-Smith who has been managing The Beech on his behalf for the past two years. Chris and Gabby will concentrate on the Orange Tree while day to day running of The Beech Inn will transfer to the capable hands of Andy Hackland who moves across Chorlton from Oddest.

The Orange Tree is expected to reopen towards the end of August with the team vowing to undo some of the changes made by the recent merry-go-round of tenants which included a bizarre relocation of all the handpumps to the lower bar invisible from the entrance. Once back up and running, Enterprise are expected back the new team with a significant investment in a total refurbishment of the pub later in the year.

UPDATE 28th AUGUST

Prior to opening, plans for a major investment in the pub by owners Enterprise Inns were brought forward so that the planned refurbishment could take place before the pub re-opened. Although this delayed the planned mid-August opening, if all goes to plan, the pub should re-open in early September.

Strange Brew Sign (Small)Less than a week after closure of The Jackalope on Barlow Moor Road, Chorlton, the bar was reborn as Strange Brew.

At the helm of Strange Brew is David Williams, a beer fan with a history at various notable Manchester bars. Dave spent three years at Good Beer Guide listed Sandbar before moving over the road to Zecol's The Deaf Institute where he revitalised the beer range including introducing cask ale. He moved on from Deaf Institute having become frustrated with not having the freedom to expand his beery ambitions there. The journey took him to Chorlton where he spent a brief period at Dulcimer (itself establishing quite a reputation for craft beers) while looking for his own bar.

Strange Brew2 (Small)Strange Brew has maintained much the same layout as The Jackalope (not surprising given the rapid turnaround between the bars) but the bar counter has a more open feel with the pie warmer moved to the back bar and a new coffee machine introduced. The décor is now a welcoming cornflower blue in the front part with a more subdued dark purple in the rear. Opening Times was also pleased to see the Gents given a much needed makeover - they were not one of Jackalope's best points!

Dave has promised to maintain Jackalope's reputation both for it's beers and as a music venue with a number of gigs already booked in. When Opening Times called on a Monday evening, an Open Mic night was in full swing with an enthusiastic crowd both listening and participating in this regular event. There were four cask ales on the bar including Doc from First Chop Brewing Arm, Shindigger's new Black IPA, Under Current from Siren brewery and an excellent pale ale from Wale's Hopcraft Brewery called Santa Muerte. This range sets the scene for what to expect from the bar in future.

http://www.strangebrewbar.co.uk/

So what of The Jackalope's former team? As previously reported, Rob Loader how has his own specialist beer shop The Epicurean on Burton Road, West Didsbury. Their second Meet The Brewer event in conjucntion with neighbours Volta bar was held on 23rd June with Huddersfield's Summer Wine Brewery visiting. In a nice tie up, they also got teamed up with West Didsbury's own Reserve Wines to bring craft beer to the Summer Wine & Beer Festival held at Didsbury Rugby Club.

https://twitter.com/EpicureanThe

Meanwhile Lee Gorton is continuing The Jackalope's live music promotion with a series of roaming events, the first of which was a mini-festival held at Salford's First Chop Brewery. He is also continuing to host the weekly "Jackgammon" backgammon tournament which has relocated to the snug at The Beech Inn on Beech Road.

https://www.facebook.com/Thejackalopebar

Unfortunately, the Church Inn on Higher Cambridge Street in Hulme had a kitchen fire in early June.

Fortunately pub was open at time so the fire was put out before anyone was in danger.

Damage is mostly limited to kitchen (although redecoration has taken place due to smoke damage). The kitchen has been closed and is expected to reopen in mid to late July (subject to JW Lees sorting it out).

Since they can't serve food they're not opening Sundays at the moment.

Sip Club Events RoomThe Stretford Sip Club, hidden away above Trading Places on Barton Road in Stretford, is going from strength to strength as locals slowly discover this new gem in their midst.

The bar now has it's own events room which it launched with a sold out whiskey tasting evening. The room can seat around 20 people and as well as the Sip Club's own events is available to hire. More tasting evenings are planned for the future and the bar now also has regular live music nights on Tuesdays and held it's first Sunday quiz night at the end of June.

They are now also opening selected lunchtimes (11 - 3pm) serving coffee & cakes alongside it's full range of beers and wines. Initially lunchtime opening may be variable - call ahead if planning a visit.

The bar is open 5pm - 11pm Tuesday to Sunday.

Two cask ales are now regularly available at all times with the emphasis very much on local breweries. They also have bottles of cider from Manchester's very own Moss Cider Project.

http://thesipclub.co.uk/

https://www.facebook.com/thesipclub/

https://twitter.com/thesipclub