23 March 2018
Out Inn Cheshire

The Out Inn CHESHIRE magazine is now available in your local pub or online. Issue 75 was published August 2017

Good Beer Guide

Britain's original number-one, independent guide to good beer and good pubs. Reserve your copy now at CAMRA Shop

GBG 2012 Cover

Our Branch..

Besides Macclesfield, our branch includes Congleton, Holmes Chapel, Knutsford, Wilmslow and surrounding areas. Postcodes covered are CW12, CW4, WA16, SK9, SK10 & SK11 (in Cheshire).

Chairman's blog: Merry Christmas Dec 2013

Drinking beer is cool

It’s a while since I wrote a piece for the web site and a lot has happened in the branch. We still see more pubs closing than we’d all like but this is being countered by bars & pubs opening or re-launching. This concept of bar versus pub is worthy of a bit more consideration. It appears to be traditional pubs that are under threat and the new venues are typically called bars but this isn’t a black & white rule. Pubs (or public houses to give them their full name) are definitely a British institution and the word “Pub” isn’t found very often outside of the UK. Maybe those opening new bars are trying to distance themselves them from doom & gloom in the pub sector as the pubco model continues to struggle. Maybe they are trying to appeal to a more youthful market and in many cases succeeding. It’s very encouraging to look around a bar or beer festival to see a wide age range of both genders. CAMRA recently carried out a survey of younger members and one of the underlying themes is that beer drinking is now seen as “cool”. This is a great achievement and is due to everyone working together: CAMRA fighting for real ale, the breweries taking up the baton to produce tasty high quality beers and the licensees for creating exciting, interesting and appealing places to drink.

Preservation society?

CAMRA itself faces a bit of a challenge though as it’s not just real ale that’s seen as cool. High quality keg beers are now cropping up – Redwillow in Macclesfield been the most recent example with 20 keg pumps but just a handful of cask. These are nothing like the awful beers that caused the founders to start CAMRA back in the 1970s. At the time, cask beers were obviously a much tastier product plus they were often produced by smaller breweries and not the big five. In addition, we’ve all but lost the fight on bottle-conditioned beers (which some say CAMRA actually invented) with most, if not all, of our local Cheshire breweries switching to non-BCA beer primarily for quality reasons. It seems a little trite for an organisation that came into existence to fight for loss of choice and quality to insist that the only way to enjoy real ale is bottle-conditioned which often has poor quality and because it’s not as popular, reduces choice. It also means we can’t support initiatives like Redwillow’s Tilting Ale which is now available on Virgin Trains. I know which I’d prefer to drink if the choice was Tilting Ale or Carling…

CAMRA needs to decide if it’s a preservation society or a progressive consumer organisation. That’s going to be an interesting on-going debate! We certainly need more younger members actively involved in the campaign.

Pub news

Anyway back to some of that good news from the branch. Macclesfield continues to grow as a great beer drinking destination. The Redwillow bar already mentioned, Mash Guru taking over the old Mexican restaurant on Back Wall Gate, the whole Castle Quarter re-inventing itself with trendy wine bars, Brewtique bottle shop and Salt Bar offering Swedish food. Also in this area is the Castle where we presented Bill Ramage a new CAMRA heritage plaque - a lovely unspoilt pub to compliment the more modern bars. One can’t mention the Castle Quarter without also mentioning Brewtique, a new bottle shop opened officially by yours truly in October and run by Chris Stairmond of Wharf fame. Definitely on the Christmas shopping list and the staff are more than willing to offer advice on the huge range of bottles. This segue ways me neatly into congratulating Chris & the team for winning Cheshire Pub of the Year. So a busy year in Macclesfield.

Not quite our branch but still in Cheshire, Bollington Brewery have opened their 3rd pub in Poynton with the re-opening of the Cask Tavern on Park Lane which has been welcomed by local residents as they struggled a little for real ale venues but now have the Kingfisher, Poynton Legion (and Worth Brewery), Cask Tavern as well as the well-established Farmers Arms and recent free house, the Bulls Head in Higher Poynton.

Congleton has stabilised a little after a rash of closures with the recent welcome news that the Antelope has been taken over by the Cock In Treacle company.


Congratulations also go to Happy Valley (Bollington), Redwillow (Macclesfield) and Merlins (Arclid) for winning 1st, 2nd and 3rd places in the Championship Beer of Cheshire competition with Blackout Rum Porter, Directionless and The Wizard. The awards are provisionally booked for lunchtime on 7th December at the Poachers in Bollington. Space doesn’t permit mentioning the stream of awards that the other Cheshire breweries continue to win.


Finally CAMRA has launched WhatPub.com and you’ll hopefully see posters and beer mats spreading throughout the branch. This is an initiative very close to my heart so please use it. It works well on smartphones and is a great way to submit beer scores whilst you are drinking the beer. Beer scores form the heart of the Good Beer Guide selection (latest edition in all good book stores) but we need more especially as we’ve had our allocation reduced by nearly 25%. Also, if you spot anything that’s out of date, please submit an update. If the entry needs totally updating, email pubsofficer@eastcheshirecamra.org.uk and ask for a survey form.

All that's left for me to say now is to wish everyone a very Merry Christmas and a happy, healthy and prosperous New Year for 2014.

Cheers, Rob

Branch aims

At the AGM last December, our regional director (Ian Gardner) informed us that the national executive were asking every branch to thinks of three specific aims for the year. This is a great idea as it focuses the mind on campaigning which is often a very difficult beastie for branches to handle. Our three aims for 2012 are:

  1. Form a team to produce a pub guide leaflet for Macclesfield town centre
  2. Re-launch the branch website 
  3. Promote greater use of public transport in the area through publicity

I'm pleased to report that the leaflet is well under way (thanks to Tony, Pete, Dave H & George) with initial positive support from central Macclesfield pubs. This branch website was also re-launched earlier this year thanks to our new webmaster, Dave Pearce, so that aim can be ticked off. The third, publicity for public transport, is not so well progressed and we'd like some ideas how to achieve this.

Rob Nicholson, June 2012

April showers

As we appear to be heading into another month of unsettled and wet weather, one advantage of drinking real ale is that it can be done indoors in one of the many excellent pubs we have in the branch. But drinking on a lovely summer evening is something we all look forward to.

For the branch, the first few months of the year are hive of activity with the following all happening:

  1. Good beer guide selection
  2. Pub of the Year voting and presentation - well done to the Egerton Arms in Chelford
  3. Community pubs month
  4. Preparation for and involvement in the Macclesfield Beer Festival in May

I've also, somehow, got onto the team running the first beer festival in Bollington in late July. Part of the Bollington Festival fund raising process for 2014. There won't be a big CAMRA presence at this festival but several CAMRA members will be helping out.

Whilst there are still too many pubs closing, we're blessed in the area with some good news stories and general increase in "good pubs serving good real ale": The Wharf & The Macc in Macclesfield; Young Pretender & Lord Mountbatten in Congleton; Egerton Arms in Chelford and Alderley Sports & Social Club. The Cotton Tree in Bollington is undergoing a refurb and it looks much improved. This, on top of the well established and well run pubs gives us hope. There are rumours of a new bar opening in Alderley Edge, selling real ale which is, aside from the social club, a bit of a real ale desert.

CAMRA struggles to come to terms with the pressure to embrace what has been called "Craft beer" and trying to categorise it is probably doomed to failure. Let's just accept that we simply like good beer in a good pub and not get negative about the small scale  resurrection of keg. Whilst we don't have to actively campaign for it, neither should we criticise it or be negative about it. We, as a campaign, should remember that we are a campaign FOR something and not against something. After all, variety is the spice of life.

Nationally, our favoured drink is under threat from both the government with the beer escalator as well as a slightly uneasy increased pressure from the anti-alcohol lobby. Whilst we can't do much at branch level, CAMRA centrally has a big role to play. Please sign the e-petition at the bottom of the page.

My "other job" is writing www.camrahops.com and I'm pleased to report that all the London branches are coming on board this year. That adds a lot of pubs into the system and will give a great push to the national CAMRA online guide www.whatpub.com which will be launched soon. Quite where that leaves the GBG in a few years time is something CAMRA needs to debate...

Look forward to meeting some of you at the Macclesfield beer festival or at any of the socials.

Cheers, Rob
April 2012

PS. And PLEASE submit more beer scores into HOPS at www.camrahops.com

Monsal trail walk

A great day was had by all those who went on the 12km walk arrange by Dave Atkins from Litton in Derbyshire, to Little Longstone, up (definitely up!) and over Longstone Moor to Wardlow Mires and then back to Litton. This route took in the stunning scenery of the white peak in the beautiful Peak District. Along the way, we visited three great pubs:

  1. Packhorse, Little Longstone - a lovely quaint pub serving great food as we sat near the roaring fire looking at slightly unexpected but most welcome sunny weather
  2. Three Stags Head, Wardlow Mires - a step back in time to this well known and treasured gem serving Black Lurcher from Abbeydale, a very dangerous beer when you plan to use your legs afterwards, which we did...  (note: only open Fri evening & Sat & Sun all day)
  3. Red Lion, Litton - a popular food orientated pub (esp. so on a Saturday) for a pint

The group then took an unplanned detour via Buxton to Nats Kitchen (by car I hasten to add!) which at first glance seems like a very nice restaurant and not the kind of place you'd find four excellent real ales. Ideal venue to a meal with beer. There should be more of these around.

It was agreed that we should try and arrange more of these walks as we really are lucky in our branch to be so close to such lovely countryside and pubs. Of course, the weather has to be as kind as it was today.

Rob Nicholson, March 2012

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