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Canals and Real ale


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I have just placed a deposit on our first ever NB.  It’s not what I set out to purchase but to me it’s truly class.  By the time the weather turns for the better I should be fit enough health wise to go cruising.

having been practically teetotal for the 4 years since my stroke and subsequent cancer issues this year I have decided to get off the wagon and try some real ale in the canal side pubs.  I have even purchased the 2018 camra good beer guide!

The boat is currently moored in the south but we intend to do some extended cruising and I am seeking info from those in the know as to which canals have the best drinking pubs?

The boat won’t fit the L&L canal and I don’t fancy doing the Rochdale at this time.  Hopefully we will wonder far and wide but was hoping for some heads up so I can prioritise the most fruitful canals.

many thanks - Martin 

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I don't think real ale will be better, or more available on any particular canal, but there are certainly decent individual boozers and areas that contain a few to choose from. 

  Down south in Berkhamstead, there is the Rising Sun adjacent to a lock. Long Itchington on the Stockton flight has several decent pubs either on or a short walk from the towpath. 

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There are surprisingly few really good real pubs on the cut, and they are still closing all the time or turning into family eateries. Let us know your cruising plans and I am sure that people here will suggest a few.

In addition to the Rising Sun at Berko, I would add a few "specials".....

Ma Pardoes Netherton, just outside Birmingham

Great Western, Wolverhampton

The Swan, Stone

The Holy Inadequate, Stoke on Trent

Black Lion Consall Forge (its got a Steam Railway)

Liverpool!!!!!

.............Dave

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Ma Pardoes is a great pub, but not canalside. About a 1/2 mile uphill walk from the CPA.

Anyway, the Plough, Huddlesford on the Coventry does a consistently excellent T T Landlord.

Edited to say that Ma Pardoe’s “official” name is the Old Swan IIRC.

Edited by nicknorman
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You will find real ale in the majority of canal side pubs these days. Anywhere you go will have good pubs. Surprisingly many of the good pubs we have tried this year are not in the Camra guide so dont be put off if there arent any camra pubs listed on a canal you are going to sail down. When you know your route, ask on here for advice - because there are some not so good pubs around (poor food, poor service etc) - I wont mention the one in Braunston near the junction.

Some canals are camra pub hot zones. I think the Ashby Canal has 3 canalside pubs listed (well one of them was a bit of a walk - the Dog and ......something strange - and that was an eating pub with good beer). Our favorites this year mirror BWM's above, Long Itchington - has 5 (or is it 6?) pubs. The camara listed one is very good but the Two Boats is our favorite and usually lots of places to park moor. The Cape in Warwick is very good (but then Warwick has 3 or 4 great pubs - the old post office? or something like that!). Great beer also at the Olive Bush but 20 mins walk uphill from Bridge 101 on the GU between Braunston and Napton (but downhill on the way back).

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18 minutes ago, nicknorman said:

Ma Pardoes is a great pub, but not canalside. About a 1/2 mile uphill walk from the CPA.

Anyway, the Plough, Huddlesford on the Coventry does a consistently excellent T T Landlord.

Edited to say that Ma Pardoe’s “official” name is the Old Swan IIRC.

In fact most of the pubs that I mention are a very short walk, but ten minutes maximum.

Good Canalside pubs are rare. So...... where you can get a decent pint and look at your boat at the same time....

The Flapper in Birmingham (currently threatened with demolition, and not everybodies cup of tea).

Crooke Hall just outside Wigan

Cape of Good Hope, Warwick

Admiral Nelson at Braunston.

The new Canal House in Gas street is worth a look but not on a weekend evening, and its expensive craft beer rather than real ale.

Cafe Bar and Distillery in central Brum both also worth a look. Distillery to sit outside in the summer, cafe bar beer a bit variable.

There are more but these are ones that I have actually been in and liked.

...............Dave

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2 hours ago, Dartagnan said:

I have just placed a deposit on our first ever NB.

Well done! What a memorable Christmas present to yourselves (or each other).

I was going to say that our member Mac Of Cygnet specialises in this topic, but I see that he has already joined in and posted some very helpful links. His annual, carefully assessed and graded, compendium of his waterside beer experiences is fascinating reading and is bound to make you very thirsty very quickly.

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1 hour ago, Dr Bob said:

dont be put off if there arent any camra pubs listed on a canal you are going to sail down

Absolutely right. In areas that have plentiful real ale, local CAMRA members choose the best all-rounders to give a variety of ales, but they have to leave out an awful lot of good 'uns.

Having said that, my local has been in the GBG since the year dot.

 

1 hour ago, Cheshire cat said:

Be aware that going to the pub is dangerous. The only time I have fallen in the canal so far was after a lunchtime session in The Rising Sun at Scholar Green. 

Another excellent hostelry, our boat's local.

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Just one point that will probably raise some hackles.  As softy southener I like my beer warm and flat which is fine until you got to the top of the Oxford where you will find the first pub (can't remember the name) where they fit one of those Devil's devices known as a 'sparkler'. I hate the horrible things but most pubs will take it off if you ask although there is one in Kidsgrove where the git who owns the pub refused saying 'I don't want people to think I serve flat beer'  fine then, I didn't buy any of his and went up the cut and found a pub who would.  It amazing here in Somerset and its surrounds, if you mention sparklers all you get is bemused looks of incomprehension but if you're 'oop north' then if you ask for it to be taken off you get the same confused look.

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Northern beer is brewed to be served through a sparkler.

Southern beer is brewed "slaipe" (as my Barnsley-born grandad used to say: I once bought him a pint of something half-decent such as Greene King Abbot, and he said he didn't know whether to sup it or pickle onions in it)).

Some northern beers are acceptable without a head, a very few southern beers are good with one.

Just rejoice that developing a palate for beer is a lifetime's work. :cheers:

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6 minutes ago, Machpoint005 said:

Northern beer is brewed to be served through a sparkler.

Southern beer is brewed "slaipe" (as my Barnsley-born grandad used to say: I once bought him a pint of something half-decent such as Greene King Abbot, and he said he didn't know whether to sup it or pickle onions in it)).

Some northern beers are acceptable without a head, a very few southern beers are good with one.

Just rejoice that developing a palate for beer is a lifetime's work. :cheers:

Disagree with most apart from "Just rejoice that developing a palate for beer is a lifetime's work. :cheers:"  which is soooooo true.

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1 hour ago, Machpoint005 said:

Northern beer is brewed to be served through a sparkler.

Southern beer is brewed "slaipe" (as my Barnsley-born grandad used to say: I once bought him a pint of something half-decent such as Greene King Abbot, and he said he didn't know whether to sup it or pickle onions in it)).

Some northern beers are acceptable without a head, a very few southern beers are good with one.

Just rejoice that developing a palate for beer is a lifetime's work. :cheers:

Proper beer is brewed to be drawn straight out of a wooden barrel by opening a tap and into a jug, it doesn't need CO2, cooler or fancy nozzles 

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6 hours ago, ditchcrawler said:

Proper beer is brewed to be drawn straight out of a wooden barrel by opening a tap and into a jug, it doesn't need CO2, cooler or fancy nozzles 

 

Agreed, but does such a beer actually exist, and where can one buy it?

Even the pubs and ale festivals with beer served straight from the barrel set up directly behind the bar, the barrels are always aluminium.

I'm not sure I've ever had a pint drawn from a wooden barrel, but I'd like to!

Edited by Mike the Boilerman
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15 minutes ago, Mike the Boilerman said:

 

Agreed, but does such a beer actually exist, and where can one buy it?

Even the pubs and ale festivals with beer served straight from the barrel set up directly behind the bar, the barrels are always aluminium.

I'm not sure I've ever had a pint drawn from a wooden barrel, but I'd like to!

Stainless steel rather than aluminium I think. Not convinced about the wood thing. I can imagine that the weak brews of 100+ years ago tasted rather too much of tree.

JP

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35 minutes ago, Captain Pegg said:

 I can imagine that the weak brews of 100+ years ago tasted rather too much of tree.

JP

But were they? I remember the landlord of a Harvey's pub in Sussex, as I sampled a pint of their quite robust Porter, telling me "That was Grandfather's mild". Though I do not have stats to back up this assertion (and certainly not at this early hour of Christmas morning) I'd say that reduction in strength of beers is a modern trend, suggesting that they used to be stronger than they are now. I think Old Speckled Hen and Ruddles County are both less strong than they were, say, ten years ago.

Edit: I had a look around the internet. Information is not easy to come by (for me, at least). But it appears that County has gone down from 4.7% to 4.3%, Hen from about 5.2% to 4.5%, and I also found a mention of Stella Artois' strength being reduced from 5% to 4.8%. To confuse maatters further, some beers are different strengths depending on whether you but them on draught, in cans or in bottles. Hobgoblin is 5.2% in bottle and 4.5% in a can and in a cask. I assume that the higher figure is the original strength.

Edited by Athy
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14 minutes ago, Athy said:

But were they? I remember the landlord of a Harvey's pub in Sussex, as I sampled a pint of their quite robust Porter, telling me "That was Grandfather's mild". Though I do not have stats to back up this assertion (and certainly not at this early hour of Christmas morning) I'd say that reduction in strength of beers is a modern trend, suggesting that they used to be stronger than they are now. I think Old Speckled Hen and Ruddles County are both less strong than they were, say, ten years ago.

I believe back when treated water wasn't piped in to homes and beer was a staple drink the casks were wooden and the brews were weaker. I think substantially weaker as well. Hence I stated 100+ years not 10+ years.

To take your examples Ruddles County is an entirely different beer than it used to be and cynically uses the same name; Old Speckled Hen sells more based on marketing than flavour. There is certainly a trend to less flavour with larger brewers and that generally means lower alcohol. Conversely I suspect in the specialist market there are a vastly greater number of stronger brews available than ever before.

JP

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10 minutes ago, Captain Pegg said:

I believe back when treated water wasn't piped in to homes and beer was a staple drink the casks were wooden and the brews were weaker. I think substantially weaker as well. Hence I stated 100+ years not 10+ years.

To take your examples Ruddles County is an entirely different beer than it used to be and cynically uses the same name; Old Speckled Hen sells more based on marketing than flavour. There is certainly a trend to less flavour with larger brewers and that generally means lower alcohol. Conversely I suspect in the specialist market there are a vastly greater number of stronger brews available than ever before.

JP

Yes, I think you could be right. I think the "Grandfather's mild" reference, said to me about 1990, takes us back 100 years.

I have heard the expression "small beer" which, figuratively, means something of little importance. But I wonder if this was the beer for daily drinking which you allude to? In other words, brewers would make a weak beer for drinking at home throughout the day, and stronger ones which would be consumed in pubs. The French used to make "petit vin" which, I guess, served a similar purpose.

After a series of take-overs, Ruddles County is now brewed by Greene King and certainly the recipe has changed: it is a less bitter bitter than it used to be (and speaking of marketing, I have noticed less frequent use of the term "bitter". Marston's Pedigree, for example, now proclaims itself top be an "amber ale".

There is certainly a proliferation of strong beers; I suspect that there may not be more strong brews but that they are more widely available - such as Old Crafty Hen which weighs in at a head-thumping 6.5%. I have not sampled it, nor am I likely to.

All this talk of beer is making me thirsty, not a good sign at 7.58 a.m. However I shan't have too long to wait as this is one of the two days of the year (my birthday is the other) when I have a pint at lunchtime.

Cheers!

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52 minutes ago, Athy said:

Yes, I think you could be right. I think the "Grandfather's mild" reference, said to me about 1990, takes us back 100 years.

I have heard the expression "small beer" which, figuratively, means something of little importance. But I wonder if this was the beer for daily drinking which you allude to? In other words, brewers would make a weak beer for drinking at home throughout the day, and stronger ones which would be consumed in pubs. The French used to make "petit vin" which, I guess, served a similar purpose.

After a series of take-overs, Ruddles County is now brewed by Greene King and certainly the recipe has changed: it is a less bitter bitter than it used to be (and speaking of marketing, I have noticed less frequent use of the term "bitter". Marston's Pedigree, for example, now proclaims itself top be an "amber ale".

There is certainly a proliferation of strong beers; I suspect that there may not be more strong brews but that they are more widely available - such as Old Crafty Hen which weighs in at a head-thumping 6.5%. I have not sampled it, nor am I likely to.

All this talk of beer is making me thirsty, not a good sign at 7.58 a.m. However I shan't have too long to wait as this is one of the two days of the year (my birthday is the other) when I have a pint at lunchtime.

Cheers!

I have started early, champagne for breakfast.

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