I travelled 5,000 miles from the USA just to try out 'amazing' Manchester ale trail on my first UK visit

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A beer aficionado travelled 5,000 miles to sample a top Greater Manchester ale trail. 

Justin Smith flew from his hometown of Bellingham, near Seattle on the West Coast of the USA, to try out Stockport CAMRA’s Mild Magic Ale Trail. 

He managed to sample around 20 qualifying pubs during his visit to the Manchester area, as well as visiting other independent bars in the city. He also made trips out to Macclesfield and Liverpool - even enjoying Elbow at Co-op Live on his first visit to the UK. 

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Justin Smith finishes his Mild Magic tour at the Petersgate Tap, Stockport. Justin Smith finishes his Mild Magic tour at the Petersgate Tap, Stockport.
Justin Smith finishes his Mild Magic tour at the Petersgate Tap, Stockport. | Justin Smith/Stockport CAMRA

“I'm a big fan of places with a strong beer culture, especially if the local beer scene offers something traditional,” Justin said. “In Manchester, they have long supported the mild beer style, which is very rare in the USA. 

“I had never made it to the UK before, so when I heard about the Mild Magic Ale Trail, I decided this was an ideal opportunity for a visit. The variety of pubs and bars was amazing; they are great social meeting places.”

Justin tried out everything he could while in Manchester and will be flying the flag for the ale trail back home. 

“I enjoyed the light and dark milds from the traditional Manchester family breweries Hydes and Holts, as well as the offerings from other local brewers such as Marble, Blackjack and Track,” he said. “This was a great promotion for CAMRA and I will proudly wear my special Mild Magic T-shirt in bars back home and on my future travels.”

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In all 97 pubs were involved with more than 200 drinkers taking on the challenge to visit at least 12 pubs. It is estimated that around 4,000 pub visits took place during the five weeks of the trail, and participants sunk around 3,000 pints of the rare beer style. The Castle in Macclesfield was voted Champion Pub of the Trail.

Organiser Darren Berry said: “There was a great buzz about the ale trail this year and my thanks go to all the pubs who joined in and went to great lengths to source beers from local independent brewers.”

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