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I'm a snob, so let's not do the Rail Ale Trail or Blackpool.

As a resident of Stalybridge, who frequently goes drinking in Mossley, Greenfield, Marsden and Huddersfield, and with relatives in both Dewsbury and Batley, I have seen in great detail the effect that the Rail AleTrail, which has been making local headlines, has had on the communities involved.

James May did not design the Rail Ale Trail. Considering I’ve been participating in miniature versions of it for 8 years to enjoy, especially, the Riverhead at Marsden and the Railway at Greenfield, perhaps I should lay claim to its creation. I always maintain that if, as a concept, it was patentable, I would be a millionaire. But I use the local stopping train required for this pub crawl regularly and around 4 years ago they started to promote it in CAMRA magazines. I can confirm that it’s always been a great day out, with some great pubs at extreme convenience.

For those that aren’t aware, over the past 2 or 3 years this Rail Ale Trail has become popular amongst large groups of non-ale drinkingbinge drinkers looking, God forbid, for a good time. This explosion in popularity has taken many residents of the involved towns aback, myself included. Whilst I can understand the appeal to civilians of the surrounding areas, the fact that stag and hen parties from the likes of Devon and Dorset have been recently making the journey up north just for this train ride is rather incredible. Though I like the pubs showcased on this journey myself, they’re not so amazing they deserve this much effort to see them.

 Furthermore, I would wager that the majority of local stopping services across the country could provide a similar day out. My friends and I are currently planning a similar Rail Ale Trail via the Manchester Victoria to Leeds service that stops at, amongst others, Castleton, Sowerby Bridge, Bradford and Halifax, places I know with great pubs near the stations. And if I was happy to drink anything, like some of those now boarding my local stopping train, then you can definitely do this on ANY local train. This is certainly true of anywhere I’ve lived in the country so far. But it’s the dedicated ale drinkers who seem to be kicking up the most fuss about these ‘pests’ because the quality of drink is not what people are interested in the excursion for.

The debate seems to be at the moment, “What do we do about this problem?” Which, I have to say is a pathetic and snobbish ideal. Apart from being a bit of a nuisance when I’m just trying to get home and the train is full (a problem that could be solved by more carriages) I don’t see the issue. It is undoubtedly an economy boost for the pubs and surrounding areas, considering the newsagents and takeaways are also used by participants. Also, I’ve noticed in these towns other pubs trying real ale for the first time to try to profit from it, to decent effect at The Commercial in Slaithwaite and the Commercial in Mossley. Though it disappoints me too that so few of these “Rail Trailers” are drinking real ale, who are we to judge them for it?

Over August bank holiday I went on a lad’s weekend away to Blackpool for two mate’s birthdays. It was how you’d expect. On return I had a version of the following conversation THRICE. “Any decent beer there?” “Absolutely not.” “What were you drinking then?” ”Whatever. Fosters in a  few bars. Rum in some others.” “Fosters, urgh, how could you?” But what exactly am I supposed to do? Hunt down some craft beer bars dragging along lads dressed as penguins and Captain Jack Sparrow? Here’s a picture of my dressed-as-a-penguin mate.

Do you think he wants an Imperial Stout?

I think I started this blog by rambling about the demons I needed to explore and this was certainly one of them. So let’s stop being snobs and forcing our ideals on others. I don’t enjoy hearing vegetarians telling me that I’m wrong for eating burgers so how do you think vodka drinkers feel about us telling them to chuck some green bullet hops in their beverage? If people want to relax with some quality beer then I know the feeling well. But if they want to go out for fun with their friends without questioning the Nelson Sauvin then let them.

Oh, and by the way, the Fosters in Blackpool was awful. Put that on RateBeer for me will you, SNOB!


Tandleman said…
Like to see where you'd get good beer in Castleton.
Mark Johnson said…
touché, I didn't actually mean to include there
Unknown said…
Great post. As a resident of Slaithwaite and a member of "Off the Rails" (set up by concerned residents fed up with Stag and Hen parties plaguing our Saturdays with their urine and litter), I feel for real ale drinkers who can't get a look in now since all these idiots come here who have no interest in "real ale". I want to do something about this. Would you be interested in joining forces with us to compact this rubbish. It's going to be hell this summer! Contact me on: if interested or indeed know anyone else that is.
Unknown said…
Blue Pits has a selection of Lees real ales which are usually good

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