The most recent Stockport and South Manchester CAMRA “Stagger” was around Stockport Market Place, which I had previously written up here (see Page 9). In some ways it was a dispiriting experience – Bambooza and Sam’s Bar are long closed, the Bull’s Head and Thatched House more recently, the Greene King IPA in the Egerton Arms was Sarson’s Best, and neither the Pack Horse nor the Old Rectory had any cask beer on. A few years ago the Market Place was often spoken of as a hub of the town’s social life, but sadly no longer.
Having said that, Spoons’ Calvert’s Court continues to thrive (even if, to my eye, it is a soulless barn and also, on this occasion, uncomfortably overheated) and the Baker’s Vaults was setting up for a live music session. And Sam Smith’s Boar’s Head, Robinson’s Arden Arms and the Railway, which was added as an impromptu final venue due to the lack of cask beer in the earlier parts of the itinerary, were all as good as ever. Old Brewery Bitter was £1.80 in the Boar’s Head, compared with £1.36 two and a half years ago.
The vileness of the beer in the Egerton Arms again raises the question of whether there is any point in marginal outlets trying to sell cask if they don’t have sufficient turnover or cellarmanship skills.