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British Guild of Beer Writers' Best Regional Writer; pubs.

Byline: Mike Chapple at the bar...

AFTER last week's Greave Dunning interlude about intriguing pub names and the images they conjure, here's another one to ponder.

The Gothic. Asubterranean refuge for fright-haired lookalikes of The Cure's Robert Smith and Lily Munster supping pints of Guinness to a soundtrack of Bauhaus's classic Goth nonsense, Bela Lugosi's Dead, immediately springs tomind.

In reality, The Gothic's only connection to the exotic is that this pub was a once a place of worship, although this is a more discreet example of church conversion than that wanton hussy, the Alma de Cuba, up on our very own Seel Street.

However, what does make The Gothic a striking addition to the unusual is that it is Cains' only pub outside the boundaries of its Liverpool heartland, an alehouse Elmer Gantry bringing the gospel according to this city's favourite brewery to the souls of the Heathen Manc. Well, er, Gatley, Stockport, anyway.

The Pub Column wanted to discover whether the legendary barriers of Manc/Scouse rivalry could be transcended by a good pint of Liverpool ale.

This rivalry has rarely been witnessed on this patch outside a natural, genetic loathing for Man. Ure . Our Kev has lived and loved in Mancland these past 25 years with no problems at all. In fact, to use the parlance of the closet Nazi, some of his and Yours Truly's best friends are Mancs.

It was he who escorted the Pub Column for a lazy Sunday afternoon session at The Gothic which has been, among other incarnations, a parachute factory during World War II.

The Post's sister paper, the Echo, once did a Top 10 review of Easter eggs in which the numero uno oeuf was described with startling insight as "very chocolaty". But Yours Truly shamefully found himself slipping into the same bimboesquemindset. After taking in the pub's pleasing expanse of floorboards' chunky chairs and tables' meaty, beaty big and bouncy oak bar and facing balcony he declared to noone in particular: "Mmmm, very woody".

In fact, the place spells out more barndance than Lordy, Lordy Hallelujah which probably explains why the '60s soul celebration held here every second Friday of the month is so popular. They did try an inaugural Goth night, says landlady Carol Jones - but noone came dressed up as the regulars decided they looked scary enough as they were. (All right, calm down, she didn't say that, I did).

The affable Carol, like Our Kev, is a Liverpudlian - originally from Anfield - who has spent the past quarter of a century happily living in Manchester and as such is the perfect ambassador for titillating the locals with the mighty power of the full Cains roster.

The favourite is simply Cains Bitter, which Carol says the regulars love for its unique taste and have unofficially declared it the best beer in Gatley. Its Cains Dark Mild also came first out of 95 pubs in the Manchester/ Stockport area in a recent CamraMild Challenge competition. And the "absolutely gorgeous" Cains Creamy Stout proves to be the most popular of them all when it's briefly in season - which will be in March this year if you can wait that long.

The FA and the 2008 are proving to bemore of an acquired taste - although we Scousers pounced on it immediately.

The only one they aren't partial to is . . . go on, give a guess. Is the Pope a Catholic? Yes, stand up and be counted Cains Liverpool Lager.

"Because it's got Liverpool on the label. they say they're not drinking any Scouse rubbish," laughs Carol.

Ah well, never mind, you can't win 'em all in this Cains' Chapple of worship.


Cains have taken their beer to the Mancs
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Daily Post (Liverpool, England)
Date:Jan 20, 2007
Previous Article:10 questions; Alix Bell, 27, lives in Woolton with her boyfriend.
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