Sunday 24th January 2016
The Grove Ale House is to be found in Hazel Grove, a dormitory village of Stockport. Like that town it was once in Cheshire but became part of Greater Manchester when that unitary authority came into being. It has good public transport connections and it was by bus that Linda and myself arrived on this particular Sunday.
Planning for this micropub began in April 2015 when Tina and Kevin Clarke decided this was the way they wished to go. They had previously licensees of the close-by Bird in Hand pub. They took possession of the former shop on 22nd September 2015 and began the work necessary to convert it into pub use. It was last used as a computer shop but had started life as a branch of local butchers Titterton’s.
The grand opening was on Saturday 5th December and so here we were six weeks later.
Most of the work required was done by the couple’s son, Darren. A lot of recycled wood has been used but that is not really noticeable to the casual eye.
The room is very small and directly in front of you is an L-shaped bar. This has a varnished top and is surmounted by five hand pumps. There is not really much room for more than fifteen seated customers although there are a few stools on the left side of the bar counter.
There is a shelf across the main window and there is a nice bench along the right side of the room with a stuffed leather fitted cushion. There are some loose green cushions on it. In front of these there are two varnished light wood tables with a few chairs.
In the corner between the right bench and the bar counter there is a fitted bookcase containing a lot of reading matter. Despite its small size this pub sells a much larger range of drinks than is the norm for a micropub. They have a keg lager and IPA from the outstanding Brewery along with one of those Guinness surgers that supposedly turns a tin of stout into the equivalent of the draught version. Spirits are also served. These are of the modern artisan type.
However it was the real stuff we were here for and the cask ale drinker is certainly not overlooked. We had a choice of GWB (Hambrook, Bristol) Bee’s Knees (4.2%), Bollington (Bollington, Cheshire) Bollington Best (4.2%), Mobberley Brewery (Mobberley, Cheshire) Elysium (4.7%) and two from the Stockport Brewery (Stockport): Arch 14 Mild (4.2%) and Crown Best Bitter (4.2%).
The Stockport Brewery beers are produced in a small plant located behind the Crown Inn. This is to be found underneath the massive brick railway viaduct that takes the four-track line high above the valley of the River Mersey near the centre of Stockport. This explains the names of their two beers on sale here. There were also two still ciders to be had: Lilley’s (Frome, Somerset) Merry Monkey (4.5%) and Circle Cider (Swindon, Wiltshire) Butcher’s Boy (5.5%).
The pub has a small smoking area out the back. Pickled Eggs and Onions are on sale along with the usual sorts of crisps, nuts etc. Titterton’s pork pies are also offered. This is very appropriate being in mind the origin of the shop as one of their branches (see the photo of it on the left). Nowadays, only their butcher’s shop in central Stockport is still trading. However, it is very popular.
As can be seen below Hazel Grove is easy to get to from Manchester and Stockport. Because of its cask beer and cider selection this pub is recommended.
The Grove Alehouse, 145 London Road, Hazel Grove SK7 4HJ. Tel: 0161 292 9449
Hours: Monday-Tuesday 16.00-23.00; Wednesday-Saturday 12.00-23.00;
Hazel Grove railway station is served by trains of Northern Rail. Services are twice an hour from Monday through to Sunday. One of these is Manchester Piccadilly to Buxton and the other Blackpool North to Hazel Grove (terminating there). On Sunday this service comes from Southport. All services serve Manchester Piccadilly and Stockport. From the station just head for London Road, which is main road. Once there turn left, go round a shallow bend and you will see the pub on the right hand side of the road.
Probably the simplest way to get here is on the 192 bus. This starts at Manchester Paton Street, close to Piccadilly Gardens. It runs through Stockport on the way. Some buses turn off London Road just before the pub and terminate at Stepping Hill Hospital. Should you get on one of these buses it is not the end of the world as it is less than ten minutes walk from the Hospital to the pub.
Assuming you are on a 192 to Hazel Grove alight at London Road/Commercial Road stop. Keep walking in the same direction as the bus and you will soon see the pub on the left side of the road. The 192 runs every 7 or 8 minutes throughout the day.
Even on Sundays it is every 10 minutes.
Other bus routes connect Hazel Grove with surrounding towns. A useful one is the Skyline 199. It connects Manchester Airport to Buxton via Stockport and Hazel Grove.