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The Transpennine Rail Ale Trail remains an infamous day out in the Tameside/Greater Manchester area. Running from Batley-Dewsbury-Huddersfield-Stalybridge and every stop in between, the “Ale Trail” or “Ale Train” as it is more commonly known in these parts has not been without controversy. It’s continual huge popularity has brought large disruptions to local railway services, residents of some of the stops and the pubs involved. Stalybridge Buffet Bar, that most use as a starting and/or finishing post on the trail, has suffered but adapted to it’s weekly influx of visitors.

Whilst I still remain of the view that you can’t and shouldn’t try to put a stop to people enjoying themselves for a day out, the Rail Ale Trail has understandably put a great strain on a pub situated on public transport. Numerous Jobsworths can interfere and make life very difficult for those running the pub, and even threaten its future. These are mostly nameless Suits who need to be seen to be justifying their salary and find an easy target in the station pub. These are people with no understanding of what a great asset it is to have one of Greater Manchester’s best pubs on the platform of the town’s station and how it draws visitors from afar.

As such, with the Transport Police deeming it not their place to provide any support or assistance, the Buffet Bar must continue doing its best to appease Suits to keep the pub going. One of these sanctions is the Saturday-only enforced policy of all drinks being served in plastic cups.

For those of you unfamiliar with the Ale Trail, this rowdy gig or football match style dispensing of drinks may give you some idea of how busy the pub can get on a Saturday.

The pub doesn’t get a choice in the matter of plastic cups, but the sheer number of glasses that are taken onto the trackside and opposite platforms by idiots makes it a fairly obvious and necessary counter to the occasional madness. Unfamiliar faces and groups have their drinks in plastic cups. No, the beer doesn’t taste as good and no, it isn’t anybody’s preferred drinking vessel. That much should be obvious to all.

What isn’t obvious to all is why I can bob in a Saturday, perch myself at the bar and get served in a glass. A real glass. Made of glass. However, having been in plenty of pubs in my time, I would have thought it was obvious. Since it isn’t to everybody, I’ll tell you some simple truths for you and your entire group to get their snarling necks around.

I’ve been in the pub more times than I want to recall (although Untappd suggests its around 500 in the last three years.) I’ve gone into that pub for a coffee whilst waiting for a train home and instead spent two hours on the phone to a technician trying to fix the pub’s internet. I’ve gone into that pub for a quick beer after work and ended up working behind the bar for five hours to cover illness. I’ve gone into that pub to meet mates on a Friday and ended up helping with a charity evening and raffle. I’ve hosted quizzes, worked beer festivals, fixed toilets, helped in the cellar, hung hanging baskets, picked beers, carried stock alongside putting plenty of money behind the bar. There are bar staff past and present that I consider good friends now.

You, on the other hand, have wandered in a Saturday for one pint; two if we’re lucky. You might be on the Ale Trail; you might not, but you are unfamiliar in comparison to this handsome mug.

Your patronage is not worth less than mine. As the pub mascot (or pub cat as some call me) I am disappointed you’re not going to get the full experience if you arrive at a peak Saturday Rail Ale Trail time. I’m sad that its limited capacity and lack of glassware may lessen your experience. But my beer is going in a glass and yours is not.

Your plastic cup is not the owner’s fault. It’s not the manager’s fault. It’s not my fault. It certainly IS NOT the bar staff’s fault, so what do you hope to achieve by asking any unnecessary questions here? Do you think it is pub practice to serve drinks in plastic cups unless you request a glass one? Do you think making the bar staff’s jobs more difficult on a busy day by kicking up any form of fuss is going to change policies? Do you think your personal disdain for plastic drinking demitasse, that is shared by all those who didn’t complain, is worth anything to anybody? And do you really think there is no good reason aside from presumptuous discrimination as to why I’ve managed to get my beer in a precious glass chalice? Do you think you’ll win the staff over by saying “Why does he get his beer in a glass?”

I sympathise with you. I hope you’ll be able to return to Stalybridge Buffet Bar on a blustery midweek evening to sit by the roaring fire, chat with the incredibly entertaining regulars and get your beer served as you wish. Until such a time, don’t point your stupidity anywhere in my direction. I get my beer in a glass here. I’ve earnt it. 


Unknown said…
I enjoyed this a lot. Also you look v handsome in the photo. x
A fantastic rebuttal to the moronic hordes.
Unknown said…
short version: I want to have my cake & eat it.

Long version: I'm starting from the premise of,as yet, never having done the ale trail but would v much like to do so. Having read enough about it and the problems staff have had at various stations (Marsden/Huddersfield are the closest to me) I can well imagine the chaos on the weekend. My only gripe with the plastic glass idea is I'm not a dickhead and can be trusted not to be a moron in a pub (even when rambling shitfaced to Mr Curtis in brewdog pre-indyman). However, I completely understand how bar staff don't have the time to get to know me before serving me a pint.

So, as I say, basically cake & eating. And, really, I couldn't/wouldn't want to wholeheartedly defend it.Plus, just wanted to say it's a good blog post
Mark Johnson said…
I'll never look THAT good in a corn field though
Mark Johnson said…
Thank you very much, Sir
Mark Johnson said…
I get the idea that it's almost offensive and perhaps I used to out of context. But when you see how the pub has no choice you wonder why it was ever an issue. The staff have little choice and are far too busy on a Saturday to judge whether or not you deserve plastic or glass, sadly. It's just so people understand that and take it wherever they go.

And thank you for the kind words

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