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County Stat Attack Week 23 - Cheshire

Coming up to the half-way point in our meander around England we are back in the North West and the historic border county of Cheshire. With Wales to the west the Romans set up a fortification to control the area with the name of Deva Victrix. Later Chester became part of Mercia and set up with a church to become a religious centre and the walls were extended to keep the Danes at bay. It was one of the last cities to fall to the Normans who on eventually succeeding built a castle to dominate the city and the Welsh borders. It remains one of the best preserved walled cities in England. Chester, whilst remaining as the county town is not the largest in the county, which is Warrington. Other settlements of size are Crew, Runcorn, Widnes and Ellesmere Port.

The northern towns of Cheshire are known for Chemicals production plus salt extraction, the rest of Cheshire is mostly clay and red sandstone soils so is more agricultural. The East of the county is Peak District which falls down to the Cheshire gap and the River Dee. It becomes hillier again inland along the Welsh border.

On Ratebeer we have 59 Breweries listed in total. 34 of these are currently active whilst 24 are now closed. 7 of the total are Client / Commissioner companies.

The oldest Brewery we have is the Thomas Hardy Burtonwood Brewery of Warrington (Est 1837). We have discussed breweries with mysterious and chequered pasts in these pages but this one takes the biscuit I would imagine. While the business was being built they also became involved in other family breweries, Higson’s, Tetley Walker and Hook Norton to name just a few, building up and cashing in on the sales of many of them. They themselves suffered from another arrangement with Eldridge Pope who owned the brand Thomas Hardy Brewers after Allied Brewers was broken up. Burtonwood acquired many pubs during the acquisition but the business became overstretched and the pubs sold to Wolverhampton & Dudley. Finally in 2015 the remnants of the company, including the brewery were bought by Molson Coors who subsequently announced the forthcoming closure of Burtonwood later in 2021.

The Brewery with the largest range we have for Cheshire is RedWillow Brewery of Macclesfield (Est 2010) with 176 beers.

The Ratebeer award of Best Brewery in Cheshire for 2021 is RedWillow Brewery, whilst The Best Beer award went to Mobberley Brewery for their Playback. No award was made for new Brewery.

The Top 10 Beers for Cheshire are –

  1. Redwillow Thoughtless
  2. Redwillow Restless
  3. Mobberley Batch #1000
  4. Redwillow Soulless
  5. Redwillow Remorseless R
  6. Redwillow Faithless X1 R
  7. Mobberley Beast Mode
  8. Cheshire Brewhouse Gibraltar Porter
  9. Redwillow Shameless IPA
  10. Redwillow Ageless

The Top Pubs / Bars in Cheshire are –

  1. Bhurtpore Inn, Aston – 83
  2. Brewery Tap (Spitting Feathers), Chester – 81
  3. Cellar, Chester – 81
  4. Redwillow Bar, Macclesfield – 81
  5. Pied Bull, Chester – 80
  6. Tavern (4T’s), Warrington – 80

There are also 2 highly rated bottle shops.

  1. Beer Emporium, Sanbach – 83
  2. Chester Beer and Wine, Chester – 83

The Top 5 Raters of Cheshire Beers are –

  1. @ManVsBeer
  2. @Towey1989
  3. @undercurrent25
  4. @fonefan
  5. @DJMonarch

The Ratebeerian who resides in Cheshire with the most raings is –
@DJMonarch who seems to have dropped out in May 2020 unfortunately. I remember when he ruled the English ratings in the early years of Ratebeer.

The highest resident of Cheshire still rating is @MarcinG

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Cheshire is just to the North of me and cask beers from Beartown and Weetwood were fairly regular offerings in a couple of places I used before Covid (who knows what will have changed). Chester used to be a great ‘Real Ale’ city, but we went for a weekend in between Lockdowns and were very disappointed with the beer quality in almost every pub we visited. Love the City Wall walk, good for building up a thirst. Grimsby Town wise Crewe, Macclesfield and Chester have all seen me at their football grounds on many occasions, usually with favourable results for my team.

Beer wise I’ve had 93, puts me 22nd on the pecking order list. It’s 21st on my personal English County list (equal with Kent), my average beer score is 3.16, so not too great.

My Top Beers;
Frodsham Danny
Weetwood Old Dog Premium Bitter
Beartown Creme Bearlee
Chapter Smiling at Strangers

19 breweries sampled, 16 still going.
Beartown 19
Coach House 11
Redwillow and Cheshire Brewhouse on 8

Surprised to see my top two breweries score wise (with over 5 rates) are Weetwood and Tatton, would never have thought that.

Some lovely pubs in the county and I’ve reviewed only 12, not been to the Bhurtpore Inn since being on RB, must rectify that this year.

Top reviews are;
Beer Hero’s (Chester)
Borough Arms (Crewe)
Bear & Billet (Chester)

So in a Nut Shell, both Cheshire and I could do better. Let’s see what happens once the pub restrictions are lifted.

<*))))))><

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Cheshire is another fairly quiet county for me, we have stayed in Chester quite a few times, so not without some input, but haven’t really done anywhere else. There was a sleepover on Crewe Station in the freezing cold when a connecting train didn’t arrive but there were lots of football supporters trying to get home and BR relented in the early hours and put one on.
Chester is one of our favourite cities to visit and there is always something interesting beer wise. We have another stay booked in this year, so it will keep me ticking over. I have walked Offa’s Dyke along the Welsh border with Cheshire, one of my favourite walks.

Rapidly into my stats then. I have tried 213 beers currently from Cheshire which places me 7th overall. This puts Cheshire 32nd in my list of English Counties with an average rating of just 3.16. I have tried beers from 37 different Cheshire Breweries putting me in 2nd place rather surprisingly.

The Breweries I have had most beers from are –

  1. Coach House Brewing – 30
  2. RedWillow Brewery – 26
  3. Beartown Brewery – 19
  4. 4T’s Brewery – 13
  5. Mobberley brewhouse – 11
  6. Spitting Feathers – 11

The following are my highest rated beers for the County –

  1. Coach House Xmas Pud – 4
  2. Redwillow Directionless – 4
  3. Worth Seam Cutter – 4
  4. Mobberley Big Idea – 4

My Cheshire Breweries with the highest average are –

  1. Deva Craft – 3.500
  2. Bollington brewing Co. – 3.500
  3. Mobberley Brewhouse – 3.418
  4. Pied Bull Brewery – 3.386

I have reviewed 12 places in Cheshire, my favourites are –

  1. Pied Bull, Chester – 82
  2. Brewery Tap (Spitting Feathers), Chester – 78
  3. Artichoke, Chester – 70

Hopefully the next visit will give me some more depth to the area.

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Hi Glenn, I still tick beers and ciders but as I’ve never been much of a home drinker I haven’t really added too many new ones to my tally during lockdown.
Those 2020 ratings are older beers and ciders which weren’t on the site at the time that I first drank them and there wasn’t sufficient information in my beer notes to add them as new ones, they are a result of me going through my beer and cider spreadsheets and updating brewery data etc. Newer ticks (i.e. mid-2011 onwards!) I do have written record of but am yet to transfer them online. Could this be a record backlog I wonder? I know ChrisO and Fonefan also have or have had backlogs and I had hoped to clear mine down some but I’ve been just as busy if not busier at home during the last year or so!
Hope everyone is doing ok and that it won’t be too long before we can all get out and about again as restrictions ease.
Cheers, DJM

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When I lived in in Cambridge, it was one of those rare counties to look out for. Last few years have seen my numbers creep up to a respectable 45 and even a place on the leaderboard (although down at 49th). However I’ve not had a single Cheshire beer since lockdown.

The top beers for me have been

I’ve had beer from 14 Cheshire breweries (11 active, 3 defunct), with the most-rated being a four-way tie between RedWillow, Mobberley, 4T’s and Beartown at 7 each. RedWillow is the highest rated at 3.49 - I’m surprised I haven’t had more of their stuff but I don’t see them all that often in Leicester.

Apart from Chester, which I have never visited, Cheshire does seem to be a place to go through in order to get somewhere else. Therefore place rates for me are slim. I have six, and the best one (Beer Dock in Crewe) is closed. The best of the rest are from a trip to Warrington: Hop Co (82) and Hop Emporium (76). I’m planning a trip to Crewe and the surrounding area whenever it’s worth travelling again.

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For me, Cheshire sits mid-table with a mere 26 beers sampled. My top 5 are
|Mobberley Eleventh Hour|3.9
|Beartown Creme Bearlee|3.7
|Coach House Blunderbus Old Porter|3.6
|Redwillow Weightless|3.5
|4T’s Squirrel’s Heaven|3.5

My preferences seem to map onto those of others with Beartown having a slight edge over Redwillow in my ratings.
I have family in Warrington, but for them it is the food not the beer that chooses the pub (which can add to the wider diplomatic challenges of family gatherings.
I did manage a small break in Chester before the current unpleasantness and walking the walls is always a treat. I also like visiting the smaller historic homes–Little Moreton Hall is a particular favourite if you want to see some Tudor that isn’t mocked. I am a rare place rater on here, partly because I am usually with company who are not raters and it is all I can do to steal the time to rate a couple of beers without extending my inattentiveness to assessing the ambience and amenities of my surroundings. Hats off to those who do.

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Cheshire returns just the 2 RB rates for me, both from Cheshire Brewhouse, which is a pretty poor result for a neighbouring county - major reason of course being I’ve only really started to rate on here since the 1st lockdown, and don’t see Cheshire beers often enough when beer shopping. If I look at UT, where I’ve been logging beers consistently for a long while, I’m at about 90 beers from 23 breweries, 5 of them RIP. Since it’s a short hop to Cheshire from Shrewsbury (and even shorter from Whitchurch, where the other half used to live) there have been many trips over the years - beery ones to Chester have been very enjoyable, both with the local CAMRA crew and other more craft-oriented friends, it does offer a good selection of pubs, my favourite being the Cavern of the Curious Gnome. There are plenty of country pubs too, and often local beers from some of the smaller breweries can be found. A trip to Chester is well in order once some kind of normality returns, and despite being warned many times about the horrors of Crewe (apologies to any residents, not my opinion as I’ve rarely been) I think a trip there might be worthwhile as I believe there are a couple of decent places to visit.

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Not my best-performing county; in fact it’s my 6th lowest county with just 15 rates.

My three highest-scoring are:
Mobberley Big Idea - 3.7
Coach House Cinnamon Beer - 3.6
Coach House Gunpowder Strong Mild - 3.6

I’ve rated beer from 6 breweries, of which Coach House is my most frequently rated with 7 rates.

I’ve only rated one place in Cheshire, which is the Wetherspoons in Chester where we spent a very happy afternoon after three generations of my family were forced inside by a torrential downpour whilst walking the city walls. We didn’t plan to stay beyond the shower, but the pub was quiet, the staff were really friendly, and there was a 'Spoons fest on (back in the days when those were actually good). We ended up staying for a meal. And a lot of beer. And then pudding, And then coffee a bit later. One of the most welcoming pubs I’ve been in, despite being a Wetherspoons, largely thanks to the lovelystaff who devoted their afternoon to joking with us, entertaining the kids, and generally being brilliant!

As well as the fascinating city walls, Chester is also noteworthy for “The Rows” - a unique set of two-tiered medieval shops in the centre. It’s rumoured that the top row was built on the rubble of the bottom oneafter one of the many times the Welsh burned the city to the ground - and then the owners of the bottom tiers excavated and re-built them under the top ones once the rubble had cooled. This is disputed though and the actual origin is something of a mystery.

Chester aside, I’ve sadly only visited a couple of other places - Sandbach is a really lovely little town, whilst Beeston Castle is a stunning ruin, with amazing views. I’d really like to return and see the Anderton Boat Lift one day- a friend of mine has said that’s very impressive.

The highest point has varied over the years due to boundary changes - originally it was at the eroded, boggy moonscape atop Black Hill, on the Pennine Way north-east of Glossop. Now it’s atop the rather stunning (and oft crowded) Shining Tor, which has great views and is a short but steep walk up from the Cat & Fiddle Inn on the A537 between Buxton & Macclesfield. Formerly the second-highest pub in Britain, it appears to be about to become the highest distillery in the UK instead!

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A mere 3 ticks, the names of which were all a complete mystery to me LOL. Had to click through to see where the heck I had them. 1 at GBBF (my first), one bottle via a British ex-pat, one cask sample in poor condition at a festival in Canada. Not the most compelling county history for me! :slight_smile:

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Ah Cheshire – my (adopted) home county.

First thing to say, it wasn’t mentioned in the original post, but the boundaries of Cheshire changed quite significantly in the 1974 revision. We lost the Wirral, Altrincham, Stockport, Stalybridge and most of Longdendale, whilst gaining Widnes and Warrington. I’m not sure whether that was a fair trade !

Under the old boundaries the longest standing brewery would have been Robinsons in Stockport, and Burtonwood would have been in Lancashire. If we discount the Burtonwood bewery, the oldest brewery in Cheshire is Coach House founded in Warrington in 1991, by ex Greenall Whitley employees.

And although @MarcinG is the most prolific current rater residing in Cheshire, anyone who has seen his posts will realise they aren’t written in English !

In terns of my ratings I have rated 38 beers from Cheshire, from 17 different breweries. The most beers being from
Coach House 6
Spitting Feathers 6
Pied Bull 3
Toms Tap 3

Cheshire has plenty of decent breweries, but nothing outstanding, and this is reflected in my top beer ratings. All the following have a rating of 3.9

3Ts Bob’s Last Porter Call – Salted Caramel (added this last week !)
Cheshire Brewhouse Govinda
Coach House Lemon & Ginger
Merlin Tom Thumb

There are a couple of Cheshire Breweries who are very popular, whose beers I simply don’t like. Beartown (taste yuck) and Mobberley (too “grapefruit juicy”),

If we look back at my own records I see that I have actually drunk 294 different Cheshire beers from 39 different breweries (about 9 closed). Most beers being drunk from
Coach House 26
Spitting Feathers 21
Mobberley 20
Cheshire Brewhouse 19
Red Willow 19

In terms of places, I seem to have rated 21 palces in Cheshire. And I’m very keen to add more to the list, once we’re allowed back inside ! The hishest rated places are

Brewery Tap, Chester 86 (one of my top 11 pubs in the country)
Hops, Crewe 80
Bottle Bank, Holmes Chapel 78
That Beer Place, Chester 78
Curious Gnome, Chester 78
R & Gs, Macclesfield 74

I haven’t rated the Bhurtpore, but have been to it many times over 25 years, so I can safely say it will probably in the above list after my next visit.

Finally some notes for prospective visitors about the general standard of places in the county.

Chester – a great drinking town. Plenty of places for whatever your particular drinking preference, but most are rather pricey.
Congleton – some nice places, but most rather traditional
Crewe – some really good venues, but quality goes downhill rapidly !
Macclesfield – lots of decent drinking places, with plenty being craft based
Middlewich – some decent places but nothing outstanding
Nantwich – lots of decent places but nothing outstanding. And mostly traditional
Northwich – used to be dire, but I hear a couple of decent places have opened recently
Runcorn – see Northwich
Sandbach – some decent places if you know where to find them. Otherwise you have to like Robinsons !
Warrington – lots of places but quality seems to be a bit variable.
Widnes - “avoid like the plague” !
Winsford – best place is a Wetherspoons – nuff said ?

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Still loving these stats, thanks @imdownthepub.

Cheshire is one of those regions I tend to travel through on the way somewhere, that used to be Liverpool or The Wirral, but heading that way to Wales for a planned post lockdown holiday.

In total I have tried 92 beers, with is just below half way down my county list. These 92 are from 21 breweries. There is definitely a theme in the top beers I have had, most are from Mobberley.

Beer Rate
Mobberley Back To Basics 4.3
Mobberley Circuit Breaker 4.3
Mobberley Into The Fray 4.2
Mobberley Bear Hug 4.1
RedWillow Tearless III 4

Mobberley is my highest rated brewery with a average of 3.65

In terms of the most tried breweries…

Brewery Beers
Mobberley 29
Cheshire Brewhouse 8
RedWillow Brewery 7
Beartown Brewery 7

The three places I have rated are

Place Rate
Beer Emporium 72
Architect 68
Corks Out - Chester 62

I feel I should do a cheeky order from Mobberley or Redwillow to push me past the magic 100 beers!!

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Yet another interesting tread, lots of choices of counties to visit once I can finally get off this island! Cheshire I’ve been to a few times, the highlight been in 2013 a very enjoyable evening in Congleton, mostly spent at the Beartown tap. This was after a afternoon at the football in Macclesfield, most memorable because it was against Stockport County, and a thousand or so of there fans walked the 13 miles for a children’s cancer charity.

I’ve rated 19 beers from 6 breweries, 1 of which, Frodsham is no long with us.

Beartown - 6
Frodsham - 6
Mobberley - 4

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Great to see you still popping in. Hope you are enjoying the new stats being set up.

Cheers

Glen

Hi Glen,
It’s good to see that the stats information continues to improve here on Ratebeer. I find your County Stat Attack series an excellent and informative read, it’s nice to see lots of RB people replying to the threads with their own experiences and contributions. Thanks for all the hard work and research you put in!
Cheers,
Neil

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Hi Neil,

Really nice to hear from you, not seen you for many years, maybe it was a Derby Winter Beer Festival where Jan, Charlotte, Chris, Ruth me, my dad (who was working behind the bar) and Pauline, yea I reckon I last saw you at the Roundhouse Derby.

But back onto Cheshire of which I will provide my update at some point, did you not use to have a photo of yourself in a Northwich Victoria shirt on here RB? It looked like a Celtic shirt as I recall, and probably fooled a fair few.

Anyway great to hear from you! and you are right, Glen has done a fantastic job with this County Stat Attack, well done Glen!

Fin

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Only 17 Cheshire rates for me, highest rated is:
SiDa Maxonian Holmes Chapple Apple Cider with 3.6

In terms of cideries, there are only 4 in Cheshire, with most entries shared between Nook’s Yard and Wrenbury Cider both with 5

The top cider and cidery raters for Cheshire are both led by minutemat:

CheshireCider Ratings

CheshireCideries

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Hi Fin, lovely to hear from yourself too! I think you’re right about Derby Winter Beer Festival being our last meet up, always an enjoyable time with yourself, Jan, Charlotte, Chris and Ruth :slight_smile: I do still get to GBBF but have less spare time at the moment so those tend to be one or two day visits. Northwich Victoria have indeed played in green and white hoops at one time but I think my shirt was an unsponsored Celtic one (there was at least one season where the Old Firm didn’t have a shirt sponsor, some dispute possibly!). Hopefully get to share a beer or two again sometime once restrictions are lifted.
Cheers,
Neil

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A bit jealous as I don’t have a single Cheshire rate yet so have been looking online. The bottleshop mentioned in the OP https://chesterbeerandwine.co.uk/ seems to have a good online selection at decent prices although no free P&P after a certain amount counters that a bit. Still they do a few West Mids beers as well I’ve not tried so tempted.

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I think Mobberley beers in cans are becoming more widespread, I know I have picked them up from Beer52, Beers of Europe, Bottle Shed and the brilliant Red Elephant Beer Cellar based in Truro, where you can get loads of Cornish beers as well.

1 Like

Thanks, will take a look.





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