Recently, and partly due to the demise of Bury FC, I’ve decided to spend the odd spare Saturday I have throughout the football season going to watch a local (for now) football team and take in some of the pubs and bars around the towns and stadiums in which they reside.
The key to showing your age is to bewail how fast the time goes, so allow me to indulge in this nonsense. I’m writing this post on the 30th March 2020, exactly three years to the day that I previewed this initial guide/travel companion to my first round trip of Glossop. Pubs included in that post had been visited in 2016. The idea that it was so many years ago was a surprise to me, even though I am fairly certain time is still functioning in its regular form.
I spend a lot of time in and around Glossop nowadays, mostly because – spoiler alert – I live in close proximity to it. Sometimes I even wrongly refer to the area as a whole as Glossopdale and suggest I live there, more to annoy the proud locals. It is one of those fiercely archaic areas where its long term residents respect ancient hamlet boundaries. Do not suggest to a person from Hadfield or Padfield or Simmondley that they live in Glossop because they will aggressively tell you that they 100% do not, despite all the evidence proving that they do.
Similarly to my last post on the area, this one has taken months to garner the energy to write. I decided to make Northern Premier League Division One South-East’s Glossop North End my third non-league visit of the season on September 21st 2019 when they were due to play Lincoln United.
I chanced an Uber to my first destination from home; still a rarity in these parts. A local living driver caught me on his way home after spending most of his shift in Manchester centre. He dropped me off in Old Glossop before finishing nearby for an afternoon golf round.
Howard Town Brewery exists in what can only be referred to as the industrial estate of Old Glossop, consisting of little more than a farm and a brewery. It appears from nowhere, like the university libary dropped next to Bretton Hall representing a mismatch in history and culture. Yet it still feels part of the scenery.
Old Glossop is, as one can imagine, the initial site of the town of Glossop, when the dale was presided over by families who still have streets, buildings and breweries named after them. It is a postcard picture area of pretty stone bridges and brooks; reminiscent of the formed image of the town I had as a youth rather than the modern reality.
The brewery itself, a pillar of cask beer reliability for many years, has opened up a lovely space for a bar. It also shares its site with Distant Hills brewery which, disclaimer alert, I had been invited to the launch of some months earlier.
On this particular September day, the last of the summer sun led to me spending much of my time perched on the stone wall outside, watching the people in the homes opposite flit between houses like an episode of Corrie. It is a good spot both inside and out and well worth walking from the town centre for. I had a pint of Howard Town cask and a half of Distant Hills keg; both perfect in the late Summer sun.
The Queens Arms was featured in that post from three years ago where it was apparent I wasn’t keen on the place. Since then my head has turned. I only stopped off in October to use the toilet and, being the kindly respecter of pubs that I am famed for, couldn’t leave without buying a beer.
For reasons unknown, the Queens Arms appear to have the only limitless supply of Thornbridge Kipling in the land. Last summer, the Nelson Sauvin hopped pale was tasting its most Sauvinny yet, like a bitter, zesty glass of Sauvignon Blanc. It was tasting just the same in this Glossop pub at around this time. But, months later, it is still on tap here as it has been on every visit, a permanent on the clips. However, if asked in a blind tasting I may have guessed at Crackendale rather than Kipling. I’m not suggesting anything unscrupulous, rather that the fluctuation in Kipling taste may have something to do with age.
Still, unlike that first visit, the Queens Arms now feels like more of a pub, with a few post trade workers having their after work Saturday pint and more than a few inquisitive looks from those propping up the bar. Friendly service luckily blanks out the hideous uniform. I settle in the corner to half watch a dire game of Leicester City Vs Tottenham Hotspur and listen to a group of clear regulars derogatively discuss the various grievances expressed by their spouses over the past week. If they can keep the Kipling well, then I could return here.
After briefly popping into Harvey Leonard’s for a half of IPA, I turned into a bar I had checked out a year previously but couldn’t remember being in. Bar 2 was previously Tweed 2, the second bar of the recently defunct Tweed Brewery in Hyde. It is now free from this demoralising tie, though still had a fair few of their beers on. I opted for a Stockport Brewing West Coast IPA - a beer named by a generator rather than for the style - and sauntered into a corner to observe.
Bar 2 could be accused of being like many shop bars that are referred to as micropubs. However, the design to try and create layers and areas has worked In its favour. There’s some thought gone into creating the idea of a pub, rather than a designer who has walked through the door for 30 seconds, quickly announced “Bar there, seating there” before dusting off their hands and pocketing the paycheck.
The bar is advertised as opening at 2pm so, whilst I was very surprised to be sitting in it drinking at 1.45pm, I was unsurprised to find it empty until the clock had passed 2.. Hasn’t advertised opening hours become the famous bastion/bugbear of pub tickers? You’d enjoy this doozy then but also you would enjoy the pub.I do.
I once made the trip out to the security troll guarded Four Kings brewery in Newton, not long after their opening. I liked the space and the people seemed nice but the beers were as disappointing as the plastic tubs used to brew them.
Given their open love of Godley and location in Newton (Hyde) the decision to tap into Glossop’s burgeoning but limited bar scene was sensible and transparent. The Cask & Kitchen, however, certainly places more focus on the latter part of its name. Perhaps recognising the limitations of their own beers, the place opted to have just one cask beer avaialble on this Saturday – and it was not from Four Kings.
It was from Sonnet 43 and was their malted vinegar special Aurora. Featuring all the flavours associated with your favourite seaside chip shop, this was an eye watering treat. My unrefined palate could only handle a few sips before I glanced over at the bar attendant busying themselves in the kitchen and decided that I couldn’t be bothered to have *the* conversation. Besides, what would I swap it for anyway? Moving on.
From Cask & Kitchen it is just shy of a ten minute walk to the Arthur Goldthorpe Stadium - home of Glossop North End. Prior to this season, they had shared a league with more local teams such as the afore visited Mossley AFC. Yet boundary changes decided that Derbyshire should not associate with Greater Manchester and, without promotion or relegation, they now reside in different divisions.
Though the stadium doesn’t have the highest of capacities, the club house is still roomy with one cask ale that is normally (so I am told) from Howard Town Brewery. On this occasion it is Longendale Lights which serves a decent purpose despite the plastic vessel.
The cask is popular and runs out towards the end of half time, meaning that I finish the second half with a pint of cold and painful Carling. There is sense here as I find out from a fellow next to me telling his mate about the kicked cask. The single barrel is always popular and always finishes during the interval. There is no guarantee the second would though, even if it would still be popular. Therefore they don’t risk it. Frustantingly sensible sense.
Glossop lose the game in injury time due to lack of concentration and the crowd disperses under a cloud of murmurs. Many deposit in the nearby Friendship; mentioned in that original Glossop post. I head back to Harvey Leonard’s for some quality keg, after another trip into Glossop’s peculiarities that shows that cask remains mostly popular and mostly well kept.
The one thing I will say for this town us that is pubs are well attended. I hope they are still open for their many patreons after this current situation comes to an end.