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).

Rose & Crown Winter Pub of the Season & Walk

Join us for the presentation of Winter Pub of the Season award to the Rose & Crown, Allgreave at 1pm on Saturday 6th February. The Rose & Crown has recently been sold by Robinsons and is now a freehouse run by Ian, Luda & Freya.

This social event consists of two parts - the presentation and walk in association with Bollington Real Ale Ramblers & friends. You can either just come along to the lunchtime session or join us in the 9.5 mile walk.

We will be entirely at the mercy of the weather with the biggest problem being snow preventing the bus getting to the Cat & Fiddle. Therefore, please keep up in touch either via the CAMRA Yahoo group or Facebook in the week before plus check on the day.

Rose and Crown website on WhatPub 

Please email social@eastcheshirecamra.org.uk if you are planning to come along so we can advise the Rose & Crown of numbers.

The walk

9.5 miles starting at the Cat & Fiddle, via the Rose & Crown and finishing at the St.Dunstan in Langley. Transport either under your own steam or via bus. Perfectly okay to just do the first 4.2 mile stage or second 5.2 mile stage assuming you can arrange your own transport to/from the Rose & Crown. The first stage is mainly downhill but the second stage is via Shutlingsloe with ~250m of climb. This is a winter walk so please come prepared with sturdy walking boots, warm clothing, torches & waterproofs. We may have to re-consider if there is a lot of snow around as that doesn't half slow you down. It will be dark for the last hour of the walk.

The agenda

  • 09:30 Chadwicks, Bollington (bus to Macclesfield)
  • 10:15 Macclesfield Bus Station (bus to Cat & Fiddle)
  • 10:30 Walk starts from Cat & Fiddle
  • 12:15 Rose & Crown, Allgreave arrival
  • 13:00 Presentation
  • 13:45 Walk leaves Rose & Crown
  • 16:45 St. Dunstan, Langley arrival
  • 17:22 Bus back to Macclesfield

The route

Click on the map for a larger version:

Langley 11 charity walk, 16th May 2015

What better excuse on one’s birthday to walk 15 miles and visit 11 pubs as part of the bi-annual Langley 11 charity walk. Our group of eight joined a lot more walkers at the St. Dunstan Inn in Langley – a great community pub. Spirits were high and the weather was looking good. The first segment lulls one into a false sense of security as it’s only a short walk to the Leather Smithy in the foothills of Macclesfield forest. Our group stuck mainly to halves as 15 miles is a stiff walk at the best of times but adding in 11 pints would have been a recipe for disaster. I’m sure though that some others on the walk did go for it. The Smithy is a busy pub serving food but rather bizarrely a “no dogs inside” policy.

The biggest climb faced us next through Macclesfield forest, over the top, passed Forest Chapel and down to the Stanley Arms. Our legs were fresh so we were soon queuing at the Stanley Arms for a thirst quenching Marstons. The obvious route was along the road for a couple of miles but Mr Skelhorn was having nothing to do with that so a slight detour took us towards Shutlingsloe and down into Wildboarclough.

The Crag is a lovely pub tucked away in the valley serving a local beer from Cheshire Brew House in Congleton. A short walk along the road brings you to a bridge across the river and then a path up to the Rose & Crown at Allgreave. This is an ex-Robinsons pub and under the new management of Ian & Luda Rottenbury. We sat in the beer garden eating our scrumptious sausage sandwiches and admired the view. Back tracking a short distance and up the valley brings us to the Wild Boar at Wincle on the A54. Another ex-Robinsons pub that has also recently changed hands. It’s popular with campers in the adjacent camp site. We partook of a beer & pickled egg before doing the final climb over the fields to the Hanging Gate - also under new management. The pub must have the best views in our branch and serves Hydes beer. Down and across the fields to the Ryles Arms where we had a very well kept pint of Timothy Taylor Landlord. The Ryles Arms offers accommodation and dining.

The longest road section is to the Gamekeeper at Sutton. Yes, you guessed it, under new management and recently tastefully renovated. The path took us alongside the river to Sutton Hall which is always architecturally impressive. The route normally takes in the Kings Head at Gurnet but that was closed (it has since re-opened) so the 11th pub was the Church Inn at Sutton – a frequent “Good Beer Guide” entry. We plodded along the road back to the St. Dunstan for a welcome meal.

An enjoyable jaunt through the countryside and eleven excellent pubs. The number under new management underlines there is still a lot of churn but the licensee’s enthusiasm deserves our support.

The Langley 11 costs £11 for which you get the bacon butty at the St. Dunstan, the sandwich at the Rose & Crown and final meal at the St. Dunstan. All the money goes to charity with the pubs kindly donating the food.

Rob Nicholson, May 2015

Langley & Sutton Walk

Handful of thirsty walkers pause for a drink of Hydes at the Hanging Gate in Sutton as part of the walk around Langley & Sutton after the presentation of Summer Pub of the Season to the St. Dunstan.

The walk started at the St. Dunstan, across the fields to Hanging Gate, down the valley to the Ryles Arms (nice cheese platter), along the road to the newly rennovated Gamekeeper at Sutton and further along the road to the re-opened Kings Arms at Gurnett (bit pricey).

Rob Nicholson 4th July 2015

Macclesfield beer festival welcome from our new chairman

A welcome from the Campaign For Real Ale

Twenty one years ago Macclesfield Round Table started the Macclesfield Beer Festival here at the Rugby Club. Over the years it has grown to be a very well respected and attended festival, with a vast array of great real ales and ciders, raising lots of money for local charities. Macclesfield and East Cheshire CAMRA is proud to be working with the Round Table again, and I hope you all enjoy the event.

Over the last 21 years the beer industry has changed dramatically, and there hasn’t been a better time to be getting in to beer and real ales. Festivals always provide a great environment to try new styles, and push your taste buds a little. From traditional brown bitter, through hoppy pales and rich stouts, to the more unusual continental influenced styles like wit, dubbel, and saison: there is something here for everyone. Throughout the festival you’ll find bar staff and CAMRA members around to help you on your choices, and I know many of us would love to help your education!

Beer is undergoing a huge resurgence at the moment, and CAMRA made a big difference to securing real ale on the bar. Now that battle is won, and won spectacularly, CAMRA are moving to protecting pubs in general, and making sure that the beers and ciders that are available are the best that can be. We are spoilt in this town with some fantastic pubs and bars, offering a great range of beers. But, we need to make sure that we can protect these pubs by continuing to use them.

Very recently Macclesfield and East Cheshire CAMRA has had a change of helm with Rob Nicholson stepping down as Chairman after a long and prosperous tenure. My background is beer, having ran pubs for the last seven years, including The Wharf for the last 3.5 years. Recently I opened the Brewtique bottled beer shop in the town too. In my time as Chairman my plan is to continue the hard work Rob had put in, and drive the branch onward. There is a lot of change happening within the Campaign on a national level, and the future is looking exciting. All I can promise is plenty more nice beer!

Our branch of CAMRA is a collection of people of all ages, all very passionate about beer and cask ale, and as you’d expect we all enjoy a drink. We organise social events often, from leisurely pub strolls to brewery visits, and we are always looking for enthusiastic people to join and be active in the branch. Pop over to the CAMRA stand and have a chat, or find me knocking about somewhere, and we’ll happily talk to you about it.

Thank you all for coming, and enjoy. Cheers!
Chris Stairmand
Macclesfield and East Cheshire CAMRA Chairman

Branch email update

Email is one of the easiest and most effective ways for the local branch to keep you up to date with news and events. We've just started a project to try and get our email database as up to date as possible. Every member whom we have an email for will receive an email that opens up a web page as seen below. If your email address is correct, simply click Ok and that confirms it.

It will help us tremendously if you can verify your email address in this way as otherwise we will need to contact members by post, asking the same question, costing the branch precious campaigning funds.

NOTE: this is just an example screenshot - the buttons don't work!

Current news
Welcome to the current & recent news in the branch. Please email webmaster@eastcheshirecamra.org.uk if any of the articles on here need moving to the archive. Old news can be found here.
Cheshire Brewhouse: Engineering A More British Pint

This article is from earlier this year and is reproduced courtesy of Leigh Linley, author of "The Good Stuff" blog at http://goodfoodgoodbeer.wordpress.com

A few weeks back, I was invited along to Saltaire Brewery to judge the annual NCB competition. I haven’t done any judging for a while but I jumped at this one, as I’ve been an advocate of homebrewing for a while now. The link between the grass-roots community and the ‘pros’ is plain to see; not only that, but my interest was piqued by the sheer range and quality of the entries. With homebrew being judged and supplemented by even more homebrewed beer being served from cask and keg in the bars, this was a mini-beer festival with a difference – one for the conference leagues, so to speak.

Throughout the throng of brewers and entrants stood one man; Shane Swindells, brewer at Cheshire Brewhouse. Despite being ably hosted by Saltaire Brewery, Shane was the man in charge, corralling the 10-strong judging team through the day and onto the awards. Having been impressed by his incredibly balanced, easy-drinking beers, I had a chat with Shane to get the lowdown on Cheshire Brewhouse. He’s a man of many talents.

‘In a previous life, I was the son of a Pub Landlord, so I’ve been around beer since I was six years old. But when I left school I did an apprenticeship in mechanical engineering’. he says. ‘I didn’t like it very much though – so tried several other jobs, after leaving including selling novelty items in Blackpool tower, working the pubs and clubs as a semi-professional singer and running a motorcycle salvage company, amongst other things. I fell back into engineering though after a number of years and retrained in electrical engineering.’

In 2005, Shane joined Molson Coors at Burton Brewery as a multi-skilled Engineer.  It was here that his interest in beer resurfaced. ‘I ended up building a one-barrel brewery at home purely so I could learn how yeast and fermentation worked… so I could be a better engineer at Burton. I learned a great deal, as well as finding that I could also brew pretty good beer to boot! ‘

He then joined the Northern Craft Brewers. ‘(Joining) The NCB was very important as I could take my experimental brews to people who had brewed for many years & were very knowledgeable and take their advice. I was also able to develop my palate by trying the many different styles entered into the many competitions they organised. I was subjected to possibly every beer fault possible through helping to judge the smaller competitions we ran. Our ex Chairman Bill Lowe has been a “National Guild of Wine and Beer Judges” Judge for many years and tasting beers with him and many of the other members enabled me to learn a lot about appreciating beer better – and brewing better – in a relatively short period of time.’

Although he doesn’t brew at home any more, Shane finds time to come back to the group and offer his knowledge to the masses; which brings us right up to date.

Cheshire Brewhouse was born in 2012, built of home-engineered kit and recycled parts – as much a matter of necessity rather than anything else.  ‘I decided that as I had next to no money – and because I worked as a multi-skilled engineer on and off for 23 years –  that I would source and fabricate the brewery myself. My copper came from a trout farm in Abergavenny, and I have (re-used) dairy tanks from Cornwall, Huddersfield & Scotland. I’ve chopped and changed things over the last 18 months to improve the process as I go along. The only things I haven’t had a hand in are the pumps and heat exchanger – pretty much everything else is my own work. My T.I.G welding skills have improved no end as a result!’ he laughs.

All very romantic and quintessentially Heath-Robinson, but the beer that Shane makes is testament to his focus and commitment to doing things his way.  Cheshire Brewhouse has a small but perfectly-formed core range with an English streak a mile wide.

‘I think there are far too many blonde, hop forward, citrussy beers brewed with foreign hops in the marketplace!’ he says, almost surprisingly in the age we live in. ‘I also found it increasingly difficult to find balanced cask beers – so that’s where I started.’

‘My light Pale ale – Cheshire Gap (3.7% abv) –  is hopped with plenty of floral Bodecia & East Kent Goldings. Engine Vein is a 4.2% abv copper-hued best bitter hopped with a decent late charge of First Gold and balanced with biscuit malt.  Draft Burton Ale – or DBA (4.6% abv) – is a  Burton-style strong bitter hopped with Target & Styrian Goldings. Finally, my stout,  Lindow (4.5% abv) is lightly hopped with Target hops & balanced with a hint of vine fruit from the malts.’

Despite the fact that Shane cites Ken Grossman as a major inspiration (Those guys are just amazing…. what Ken Grossman has built up – from his eco-friendly values to his exceptionally high quality beers – is amazing…), another tenet to Cheshire Brewhouse is Shane’s effort to be part of his local community in terms of reach and sourcing ingredients.

‘I source the hops and malts for my 4 core brews from companies in England, with malt and hops grown & malted in east Anglia & Worcestershire. At least 80% of my current production is sold direct to independent pubs and bottle shops within 35 miles of the brewery. Even my my bottles, packaging and label stock from within 20 miles of the brewery. I am also part of a Cheshire Brewers Co-operative where we try to help each other out with shared deliveries, collecting each others’ casks – that sort of thing. Small is good.’ he laughs.

He’s also working on an interesting-sounding, home-smoked porter as we speak. ‘The malt is being smoked for me at The Cheshire Smokehouse, and I’ll also be using some more unusual fruit sugars as an adjunct to add to the background complexity.’

In short, if you want to try Shane’s cask ales, you may have to go direct to the source – which isn’t a bad thing, if you ask me. From his first beer going on sale at The Lord Mountbatten in Congleton, you can find Cheshire Brewhouse regularly at The Young Pretender,  The Lion & Swan; and a little further out in The Beer Emporium in Sandbach or Beer Dock In Crewe.

Editors note: since the above article was written, the Barley Hops in Congleton has become an excellent outlet to try Cheshire Brewhouse beers both on tap and in bottle.

November 2014

Young Pretender, Congleton is Cheshire Pub of the Year 2014

We're pleased to announce that the Young Pretender in Congleton has been chosen as CHESHIRE PUB OF THE YEAR 2014 and now goes forward against the Freshfield in Fornby in the Merseyside & Cheshire regional competition. This follows on from being selected as our branch pub of the year 2014. Congratulations to the YP team. Details of the original nomination can be found here. The Cheshire Pub of the Year presentation was on Saturday 27th September see events list.

Happy Valley is Champion Beer of Cheshire 2013

Congratulations to Happy Valley Brewery in Bollington for winning CAMRA's Champion Beer of Cheshire 2013 with "Black Out XO" rum porter. Second and third places went to Redwillow with Directionless and Merlin with "The Wizard". The presentations were made to a packed crowd at the Poachers Inn, Bollington on Saturday 7th December and as a real treat all three winners were on the bar - with a cask of XO going in a hour or two.

All three brewers were present: Dave Hughes (Happy Valley), Toby Mckenzie (Redwillow) and Dave Peart (Merlin).

Commenting on the competition, Nick Bosley (CAMRA Cheshire Area Organiser) said, “the quality and range of Cheshire brewers beers improves year on year. This was the most difficult to judge and on their day any one of the eight finalists could have won”

Responding, Dave Hughes the Head Brewer for the winning beer said “We were delighted to win first at Champion Beer of Cheshire 2013. Time to get our thinking caps on now for something special for next year’s competition .Thank you to all concerned.”

Complimentary nibbles were also available and the pub was open all afternoon for this special event thanks to Rob & Helen Ellwood, licensees of the Poachers. A good time was had by all celebrating Cheshire brewing at it's very best.

WhatPub - the on-line pub guide for you

CAMRA, has launched its first ever national online pub guide – whatpub.com - to help the public find the best pubs to suit their needs across Britain.

Following an extensive two year project by thousands of CAMRA volunteers, whatpub.com features 47,000 pubs, around 36,000 of which serve real ale – making the site the most definitive online guide to real ale in the UK.

Whatpub.com, automatically optimises for use on laptops, tablets and mobile devices, and offers over thirty different search fields ranging from dog friendly pubs to those that offer newspapers or live music, so you can customise the search for your own preferences.

Andy Shaw, CAMRA Director said “CAMRA has developed WhatPub to be the ultimate online pub guide for all pub-goers. It may even help encourage people who have stopped using pubs regularly, since WhatPub will help them find the ideal pub to suit their needs.”

WhatPub entries are written by local CAMRA members and approved by dedicated volunteers. A full entry offers a description and pictures of the pub, the address, opening hours, who owns it, lists the regular real ales they stock, states whether the pub offers Guest Beers, highlights the main features e.g. availability of food, gives a map of where the pub can be located, sat nav reference, OS reference and highlights local transport. Helpfully, of the 35,800 real ale pubs featured, around 22,000 have details of the real ales being served – taking the guess work out of a visit for real ale lovers.

WhatPub also allows CAMRA members to score the quality of the real ales served in the pub which helps CAMRA select entries for a number of local and national publications.

Mr Shaw commented on the entries,WhatPub differs from many other pub web-sites which are based on details provided by the person who owns the pub, who may be a little biased!I would like to thank the thousands of CAMRA volunteers for their time and effort in submitting these entries. It is this process that makes WhatPub totally independent.” Mr Shaw concluded, “WhatPub has plenty more planned developments but we are very proud of the web-site and CAMRA hopes everybody will enjoy using it.”

Wharf, Macclesfield is Cheshire Pub of the Year

Following it's selection as Pub of the Year for Macclesfield and East Cheshire Branch the Wharf on Brook Street, Macclesfield has now received the accolade of CAMRA Pub of the year for Cheshire. Congratulations to landlord Chris Stairmand and his wife Jane. The presentation took place at the pub on 14th September and the pub went forward to the Cheshire and Merseyside Regional competition but did not go any further. 

Within easy walk of the town centre, the Wharf (near the Macclesfield marina) was purchased as a free house only 18 months ago. In this short time Chris and Jane have transformed this street corner pub. Chris is passionate about real ale, and now has 5 handpumps, with a ‘Wharf’ bitter (the provenance of which being a closely guarded secret) and the four others usually feature a dark stout or porter, and often locales - frequently from Macclesfield’s Redwillow brewery as well as Happy Valley, and many others from Northern regions. There is also real cider and a wide selection of bottled beers, including a range of gluten free beers. A true community local, the picture shows presentation of branch pub of the year on 14th March to a packed pub full of CAMRA members, regulars and many friends and family there to celebrate with Chris, Jane and their team.   Photo by Andy Stairmand
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Upcoming events
Events diary
Also see the year event diary. Non-CAMRA events in italics. Confirmed events in bold. read more ...
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