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Real ale stalwart gets beer honour; LEGEND: 'Mick The Tick' has tipple named after him to mark 35,000th sample.

Byline: Edward Chadwick

WITH his ruddy cheeks and shopping cart, Michael Baker looks like any other city centre drinker as he props up the bar.

But the second he enters a pub, he inhabits a world where he is a drinking legend known as Mick The Tick.

The 70-year-old was one of the country's first "tickers" - real ale devotees who tour the country to try as many different cask beers as possible.

And now he has been honoured by a tipple which was named after him to mark a staggering milestone.

When Mick, from Marston Green, supped his latest pint at Digbeth's Anchor Inn this week, he had clocked up an amazing 35,000 different ales.

His reputation has reached such massive proportions that Nuneaton-based Church End Brewery named their latest concoction Mick the Tick's 35,000th.

"It started in about 1975 when I went to a beer festival and it has just snowballed from there," he explained.

"There were only about 70 different breweries in the country then and I was lucky if I got 40 ticks in a year at the start.

"But now you've got somewhere in the region of 700 breweries and I'm clocking up about 2,000 a year now.

"I do it because I love the beer but also because I meet so many interesting people all over the country at festivals and in pubs."

Mick's 2,000 "ticks" per year translate in to about 1,000 pints because the fanatics drink in halves to maximise the numbers of beers they get through.

While Mick might have been the first ticker in the country, he trails good friend Brian Moore, from Sheffield, by at least 5,000 ticks.

Mick, a former hospital surgical appliance officer, said: "There's no rules and there's no rivalry either.

"There's probably only a few hundred of us and we all get on very well.

"Birmingham is a fantastic place to be for real ale now. The Anchor is brilliant for getting rare ales and new breweries in."

The pub will be selling the 4.4 per cent Mick the Tick's 35,000th for the next couple of weeks. Landlord Gerry Keane said: "Mick is a real gentleman and everyone who meets him remembers who he is."

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Ale and hearty: Mick Baker aka Mick The Tick has completed 35,000 'ticks'.
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Publication:Birmingham Mail (England)
Date:Oct 2, 2009
Words:393
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