History, brewpubs and collaboration: a trio of pubs in North Wales

Despite growing up in Merseyside, living in Manchester and spending as much time as possible travelling and exploring, there’s one area very close to home where I’ve not spent too much time: Wales.  Apart from a few trips as a child (and a hen do in Chester that involved visiting a spa in Deeside), Wales is very much undiscovered territory to me so when we were looking for a place for a weekend away, it seemed like the natural choice.

We stayed in rural Snowdonia – probably the most rural place I’ve ever stayed – but on the way there and back we made a few stop offs.

Continue reading

A Whitby pubs guide

Whitby is without a doubt one of the most wonderful places I’ve ever visited in the UK. From the stunning drive across the North York Moors on the way and that glorious first glimpse of Whitby Abbey and the sea beyond, I was enchanted and spent most of my time quite in awe of the beauty of the town. I mean, look at it!

199 Steps Whitby St Mary's Church graveyard and Whitby Abbey, Whitby

It’s somewhere I’d always wanted to go, especially as Dracula is one of my favourite books, so Ross took us off on a weekend for my birthday. Once we started researching the pub situation in the town, we were pleasantly surprised to discover that there were plenty of places worth a visit as well as a brewery (called, unsurprisingly, Whitby Brewery). Now, this isn’t a definite guide to Whitby’s pubs as there were plenty we didn’t get to, but more than enough for a weekend’s visit!

Continue reading

The ‘Ale’ of Man – a guide to beer on the Isle of Man

We just took a trip over to the Isle of Man. Although it was predominately a family event, we did manage to get a bit of drinking in and sampled some of the local Manx beers from the Isle of Man’s breweries.

According to the IOM branch of CAMRA’s website, the island has five breweries. We tried beers from three of them in just less than two days which I think is pretty good going!

I’m not into motorsports and I can’t say I know very much about the TT but we did visit Creg-ny-Baa, located up on the Mountain Road where the racing takes place.

It’s a cosy traditional sort of pub with a decent choice of drinks (and a food menu with something to please everyone). I went for Hooded Ram‘s Colonial Crack Pot. This is a relatively new Manx brewery and we didn’t see anything else by them at any other point during our trip. The beer was nice and drinkable with a lovely amber colour and something I’d be interested in trying again.

20140301_182109

This visit (and dinner) was followed by a trip back down into Douglas in a taxi. As we weren’t too sure where to go, we asked the taxi driver for a recommendation and he took us to Brendan O’Donnell in the town centre.

Not really a real ale selection so we all went for Guinness. And a sensational Guinness it was. Thick, creamy and well poured. The pub had a couple of little alcoves and hideaways like this one where we sat.

20140301_210600

After a long day (including a few hours walking by a river) we were very tired so this was our only stop off of the night.

The next morning we took a bus journey over to Castletown on the south of the island. I’m a big fan of castles and it was the choice between either Castletown or Peel to visit one but reading about a little pub called The Sidings sealed the deal for Castletown.
image

This was the Isle of Man branch of CAMRA’s pub of 2012 but alas no CAMRA member discount (a chap at the bar told me no pub on the island offers it but you can get reduced entry into the beer festival they have in April).

However it soon became apparent we didn’t need CAMRA discount – the prices were excellent value for money.

The pub itself seemed a very traditional establishment (I was one of the few women in there) but there was a nice, welcoming atmosphere. It had a few separate rooms with a lot of seating but was still very busy. When we arrived it was also serving Sunday Lunch for a good price but we didn’t go for this.

The bar had eight pumps, the majority of which were bitter. This included Okell’s and Bushy’s which appear to be the island’s two biggest breweries (as you seem to be able to buy them everywhere).

First up I went for Castle Rushen Ale after our trip there earlier on in the day. One of the beers on sale was specifically brewed for the pub by Copper Dragon and I think it was this one.
image

Next up Bushys’ Ruby Mild. I loved the malty after taste of this.

image

I did plan to stick to only Manx beers but being not the biggest fan of bitter I went for Copper Dragon’s Black Gold. Another quite malty beer with a lovely dark colour.
image

Overall, a lovely little real ale pub which was well worth the 5 minute walk from Castletown!

Finally our last alcoholic beverages for the weekend came at Ronaldsway Airport with a pint of bitter and a bottle of IPA for me, both by Okell’s. It was the first time I’d seen Okell’s in a bottle

image

Unfortunately it wasn’t the best beer I’ve ever tasted but still nice to try it.

Overall if you do find yourself over on the Isle of Man, there are a fair few little places worth visiting and generally the beer is quite affordable. Although Douglas is the island’s main town, it seems there is a good spread of pubs across the various areas so no matter where you end up you should probably find a decent pint nearby.