Header image

North Cheshire

Campaign for Real Ale

Branch Social Events

We try to host a number of different social activities each year, with at least one thing every month.
The following table shows the recurring events we organize or participate in, but please refer to the Branch Diary for exact dates of future events,

Brewery Visits

A visit to a local brewery. Nearly 30 breweries in Cheshire and immediate surrounds, we try to do a different one each year.
A visit to a national, regional or other major brewery. Trips have included Hydes, Robinsons, Lees, Thwaites, Black Sheep, Theakston and Marstons.

Pub Crawls

City Pub Crawls Some of our best pubs are to be found in our great cities. Each year we run a guided tour of the top pubs in a chosen city. Travel is usually by public transport. Past trips have included Manchester, Liverpool, Leeds, York, Preston, Lancaster, Huddersfield and Chester.
Heritage Pub Crawls Guided trips to some of the most fantastic unspoilt examples of unchanged heritage pubs. Travel is usually by public transport. Past trips have included Manchester, Liverpool, York, Eccles and Stockport.
Christmas Pub Crawl Something of a tradition now and a great opportunity to sample some of the wonderful winter beers on offer. Past trips have included Chester, Cologne & Dusseldorf, Amsterdam, Liverpool, Altrincham, Chorlton and Huddersfield.

Beer Festivals

Manchester Beer & Cider Festival Held in January each year at Manchester Central. We tend to visit as a group on Wednesday evening, CAMRA members night!
Great British Beer Festival Held in August each year in London at Olympia, we have staff who work every day at the festival and many more members who visit on at least one day. Travel is independently organised (it is possible to do this as a day-trip).
Cheshire Beer Festival Held in Chester in March each year.

Campaigning Socials

Community Pubs Month Much of the fun here is in visiting selected Community-focussed pubs in the branch area to choose our Community Pub of the Year. If you fancy joining a judging team just let us know.
Mild Month Hot on the heels on Community Pubs Month, we will turn our attention to an endangered beer style, Mild. Once in nearly every pub in the branch area, it is now sold in just a handful of them. You can be sure that we will have a social activity to celebrate Mild in May.
Cider Month Never has cider been more popular and more widely available. We even have a cider producer in the branch area. We'll be doing our bit for real cider and perry in October.
Beer Matched Dinner After the sell-out success of our inaugural event in 2011 at our Pub of the Year the Helter Skelter in Frodsham. We have repeated this event every year in March.
Local Beer Festivals Although not CAMRA run, there are always groups of people going to many of the local beer festivals, including Appleton Thorn Village Hall, Barnton CC, Grappenhall Community Centre, and Davenham CC.

Branch Area Socials

A short ‘Lymm Lollop’- Autumn 2019

A small group of local CAMRA members met up for our first guided walk on a lovely September afternoon. The meeting point was the Green Dragon, Heatley with the CAT 5 bus from Warrington conveniently dropping us just outside. Owned by Vintage Inns (so we of course took advantage of the CAMRA discount), the focus is on food complemented by up to three cask ales. As Black Sheep Best had just run out we opted for Doom Bar or Wainwrights and found both to be very acceptable. With a semi-rural location overlooking fields it’s pleasant place to wile away half an hour in the sunny beer garden.

Next we set off for a short stroll along the Trans-Pennine Trail to Lymm village, where we called first into Greene King’s recently-refurbished Golden Fleece, very much a locals’ pub with sports to the fore in the bar area and a lovely canalside beer garden. Five ales are on offer, normally four from Greene King’s stable and another from a local brewery. Lounging in the sun as the canal boats chugged by behind us it was an ideal day to appreciate a couple of ales and we tried both Old Speckled Hen and Bunji from local brewery Mobberley, agreeing both were on good form.

Crossing the road to the Bulls Head our choice was five beers including guest ales from Manchester brewery Hydes. Very much an unspoilt and cosy local pub where conversation is the norm and food does not feature. We noticed it was popular with dog owners: a stroke always sparks off friendly conversation. We tried both Moroccan Gold, the seasonal beer from the Hydes Beer Studio arm, and from further afield, Ossett Yorkshire Blonde, both of which were very good.

By the time we had dropped by the dinosaur’s footprint and walked a loop around Lymm Dam, where it was nice to see many families appreciating the scenic spot, in the continuing sun, we had worked up a thirst so Saddlers was the next port of call. Entrance was by the side door as strangely the front entrance is several feet off the ground. This small and cosy bar run by two brothers is both food and music free leaving the focus on old-fashioned conversation and banter. Two rotating ales, often from Big Bog and Mayflower breweries, complement the regular Lees Bitter. As well as Big Bog Hinkypunk we tried the curiously named ‘Pie PA’. No pork or pastry involved here, rather Mayflower brewery in Wigan being inextricably linked with pies, hence the name. Both beers were again perfectly good.

Shot through bridge

Our final port of call was just opposite at the Brewery Tap, home of Lymm Brewing. A modern bar in the former red-brick post office this offered the most extensive choice of the day with up to seven cask ales from Lymm Brewing and sister brewery Dunham Massey. Lymm Dark (Mild) is a regular and is always joined by at least one other dark beer such as a porter or stout. A few fans of darker ales amongst us found the Dunham Porter in good form and local pies the ideal accompaniment. We had been given advance notice of the arrival of once-yearly brewed Flixton Green Hop Blonde as this was the time of year when these local hops are available, and what excellent condition it was in too.

So, this was a fitting way to end our short tour of the Lymm area - two of us did however hang around and manage a quick look into the minute brewery under the Brewery Tap. Whilst we had by now run out of time and had by no means covered every real ale pub in the vicinity, we plan further walks over the coming months in this and other locations, hopefully attracting a wider range of walkers. Please check out our Facebook page or website for future activities.

Lymm Pubs Current and Past - May 2019

May is the time for the North Cheshire CAMRA branch AGM. You may wonder why members of the branch, and Committee members in particular, would want to spend their leisure time attending meetings. Well someone has to do it! The up side is that the AGM is normally the shortest meeting in the branch calendar and we can take the opportunity to choose an appealing local hostelry in which to hold the meeting.

So, this year we met at Saddlers, Lymm. The pub name originates from a previous owner of the premises – Mr, Druce, the Saddler. It has only been a pub for 20 years – a mere blink in terms of Lymm pub history – and was a wine bar for 4 years previously. Before that it was a Citizens Advice Bureau and Labour Exchange. This truly is a traditional pub – no music, electronic games machines or food – just a cosy atmosphere with real fires, newspapers and excellent local beers. The pub is independent of any pub companies so the licensees have a free choice on which beers they serve – local approval is a must! Two standard offerings come from Lees and Marstons and the guest beer normally heralds from either Mayflower (Wigan) or Big Bog (Speke).

The pub is on Bridgewater Street, just a stone’s throw away from the Bridgewater canal, Lymm Dam and various heritage walks. It is also next door to the Lymm Heritage Centre – well worth a visit. Take a look on Trip Advisor and Facebook and you will see that the pub features as a good stop off after a walk in summer or a comfortable bolt hole to shelter from the cold in winter.

Next, having sampled the comfort of one of Lymm’s traditional pubs we crossed the road to a rather more modern venue: The Brewery Tap opened in 2013 in the old post office building. The emphasis here is still on beer with no electronic games distractions although there is some background music and open mic events twice a month. This bar offers 7 beers on handpump from the micro-brewery in the basement of the pub and the sister brewery Dunham Massey, just a few miles away. Still a traditional pub where newspaper reading and pub games by the log burning stove are prevalent the ambiance could not be more different to Saddlers. We had arranged to meet the authors of “The pubs inns & alehouses of Lymm” (mentioned in the last issue of Out Inn Cheshire) and we were suitably entertained by the authors of said publication. Pub heritage is quite a fascinating topic and the book lists 35 outlets in the Lymm area, 4 of which have been pubs for some 250 years and continue to operate under the same name. Unbeknown to us the village used to have a maltings – a rare entity these days but still found at a handful of breweries and whisky distilleries.

Alcoholism has always showed its ugly head in society and the gin craze in the 19th century gave rise to the Beer Act of 1830 which made it easier to open beer only establishments (recognise the forerunner of the upsurge in micro-pubs nowadays?) which it was believed would encourage more modest drinking. The 1830 Act gave rise to a huge growth of pub

Lymm Area Survey November 2017

On a blustery late November Saturday afternoon a group of North Cheshire CAMRA members visited Lymm to gather a few beer scores for the local pubs.

Our first port of call was the Crown a large pub on the Warrington side of town with something for everyone, sports TV, meals and a range of ales from the J.W. Lees stable, where the unanimous beer of choice was Lees Plum Pudding. We congregated round the day's first roaring open fire. You can't beat it, can you? And other Winter/Christmas themed ales were to follow! Lymm centre has several traditional pubs with a pleasant cosy atmospheres and all with the benefit of WIFI. GBG 2018 listed Bulls Head,with up to 5 pumps available selling from the Hydes and Beer Studio ranges. Golden Fleece, a Greene King house which is more of a locals pub that also serves guest beers sometimes locally sourced, and Saddlers a smaller quiet free of tie house with up to 3 ales available where a great atmosphere was created in front of the fire when our ten CAMRA members arrived.

The highlight of the trip was the GBG 2018 listed Brewery Tap which can be relied on to serve a wide range from Dunham Massey and and its own Lymm Brewery beers in excellent form. We were pleased to hook-up with some Trafford & Hulme CAMRA members here - not having met them before the ice-breaker was noticing the clever and subtle design of their branch T-shirts. The group photo shows James, Graham, Dan & Andy enjoying the opportunity to taste the full selection by taking advantage of the third of a pint paddles available. The renowned Lymm Dam Strong Ale at 7.2% served here was generally considered to be the beer of the day, closely followed by the new Winter Ale, 5.5% Chirotherium.

We then took a short bus ride which stops right outside the door of the recently refurbished Star at Statham but it's an easy pleasant walk of under a mile heading west on The Trans Pennine Trail. 3 real ales are usually available the regular Wainwright, a Coach House Beer and a changing guest.

Back on the bus towards Warrington for our final stop at Thelwall. First stop was the GBG 2018 Little Manor which is part of The Brunning and Price group. A large pub with quality fixtures and an enticing menu where you won't be embarrassed if you take someone you want to impress. As with all chains a lot depends on the local management but it's good here and there is a real commitment to well kept real ale and there is at least six on offer from a variety of breweries but Phoenix and Coach House usually feature. Prices are a little on the high side but this is definitely a place that justifies it.

Our final stop of the day was 100 yards down the road at the Pickering Arms. The concentration here is on food but 3 real ales were available from the Punch list. The Black Sheep Best Bitter was in good condition and brought the day to a close.

Early Xmas present at Davenham - Davenham Cricket Club Meet the Brewer evening - November 2017

At the end of November more than thirty people attended an event organised by North Cheshire CAMRA in conjunction with Davenham Cricket Club; a “Meet the Brewer Night”. Stars of stage and screen for the evening where two gentlemen behind the Tipsy Angel Brewery - Aiden Grannell and John Robinson. Sadly John Wilkinson of 4T’s Brewery who facilitates the brewing could not be present.

John Robinson commenced with a short history of two now-defunct local breweries and the people behind them - Walkers of Warrington and Shaws of Leigh. John stressed that his input was but a snapshot due to time constraints and his wish to leave more time for us to try the beers on offer – more of that later! Although brief, it was a thoroughly fascinating trip though the history of these two breweries including information about key family members and brewery personnel, brewing developments, brewery and pub architecture, links to other breweries and what has been lost. Aiden then talked us through his role as the brewer, originally brewing at the Lower Angel in Warrington towncentre before going to work at 4T’S. His interest began when he discovered records from Walkers from 1865 until 1965 including recipes for various beers and meeting John with similar interests. He then went on to develop his skills at another brewery before starting himself. Initially a major difficulty was having to reduce measurements meant for a 24 quarter brewery into a half barrel plant which was used for brewing at the Lower Angel. Currently he is brewing on a 100 litre kit that John Wilkinson started out with at 4T’s.

On arrival we were presented with two halves of different styles of beer to sample. The first was Taipur and owes its origin from the Indian subcontinent. Tasty, well balanced, light golden beer with southern hemisphere hops – very refreshing and lingered long on the palate.

The second was GSP aka George Shaw’s Premium – this is a quality old fashioned bitter using English malt and hops, gives a mouthful of quality, taste and texture – so good that you knew when others were first tasting by the comments you heard; (“OMG!”). The second OMG moment came when trying a beer Falstaff (aka Angel’s Folly) a flagship beer of Walkers.This pre-1961 version is a full bodied dark coloured old ale, full of complexity which we could still taste arriving home 45 minutes later! All three beers were in excellent condition and a credit to the brewer and the cellar staff at the cricket club – if you get chance to try any of these beers do so. You will not be disappointed no matter what your preferred beer style is!

This event was repeated in Warrington end February 2018 at the Tavern where it also served as New Members Event. Once again a great evening was had by all!

Champion Beer of Cheshire Hat Trick for North Cheshire

An excellent outcome for breweries in the North Cheshire branch area in the 2017 Champion Beer of Cheshire competition. Coachhouse Premium Mild, 4Ts Stout and Lymm Brewery Lymm Damm Strong Ale were all category winners in the competition held at Cheshire Beer Festival in November. The awards were presented by the beer festival Beer Manager, Joe Wright, and the achievement was celebrated with samples of the award winning beers and a buffet at the Tavern, Warrington. Thanks to the Tavern for hosting the event and congratulations to the brewers at the 3 breweries.

North Cheshire CAMRA 2017 Beer Matched Dinner - Helter Skelter, Frodsham

It is hard to believe this event has been going for 7 years now and remains a popular event in the North Cheshire CAMRA calendar. Slightly later this year than the usual March date it was held on 1st April. The event continues to be supported by both North Cheshire and Halton branches, not only because of the excellence of the beer and food but Frodsham is the most accessible location in the branch area in particular by public transport. Once again Nick Broome excelled with his menu and beer matching (there is, of course, wine matched options for those not wanting to drink beer). Our appetites were whetted on arrival with a beer of our choice from the extensive range at the bar. We then embarked on the 3 course meal. First up was King Prawns and Crayfish in a Scented Cream Sauce with crusty bread accompanied by Bad Seed, Electric Hard Wired (5.1%). The main course was one of Nick’s signature dishes – Supreme of Chicken on a Moroccan Stew and a pint of the strongest beer on offer that evening, Blackjack BIPAS (6.8%). For the chocoholics a scrumptious dessert of Chocolate Brownie with Salted Caramel Sauce & Vanilla Ice Cream, or for the less sweet toothed a plate of cheese and biscuits, followed with Wild Beer, Millionaire (4.7%) to wash it down. It was good to sample such a diverse set of beers from relatively newly established breweries from all over the country: Bad Seed brewery, established in 2013 is based in Malton, North Yorkshire. All of their beers are unfined and unfiltered, their Electric Hard Wired being a German wheat beer style beer loaded with hops and flavours of mandarin and zesty grapefruit. Blackjack brewery, established in 2012, is a Manchester based brewery and their BIPAS is an IPA fermented with a blend of Belgian and Saison yeasts, hopped with Rakau, Citra, Palisade and Centennial. Wild Beer brewery, established in 2012, is based in Evercreech, Somerset and a project is currently underway to build a crowdfunded new brewery. Their Millionaire beer is a chocolate and salted caramel milk stout. The selection of beers just goes to show how exciting the beer scene is these days. We were pleased to welcome regular attendees as well as some new faces. A very sociable event! The Helter Skelter is an excellent venue for the event. However, if you have any suggestions for an alternative venue please email: moc.liamg@cesrebmemcn:otliam. Venues need to be accessible by public transport with a restaurant of sufficient size to accommodate up to 40 people and with the capacity to serve a different, suitably matched beer (or wine) with each course. We hope you are now sufficiently enthused to come and join us next year.