The Alma Inn                                                            Barristers                                                        Bank Top Brewery Tap     


I haven’t been to Bolton for a while, so I would appreciate feedback please, but I do remember once being asked if I like ‘flat beer’ when I requested the sparkler be removed before serving up my ale.  A strange idea, but not uncommonly held by some in pubs in the North; I was even accused once of being ‘soft’ by a fellow customer in a pub in Sheffield, because I wanted my London Pride as it comes, rather than being slaughtered by a tight sparkler!  We can’t all like the same things. 


Anyway, I prefer drinking in Bolton town centre, rather than near to the ground, you can catch a bus or share a taxi to get to the ground from your pre-match drink, so my first choice is The Alma Inn, 152-154 Bradshawgate, BL2 1BA (01204 364113), a small mid-terraced pub, that sells Wychwood Hobgoblin and 3 guest ales.  The Alma looks like it’s in need of redecoration, but the ale is always in good form and the ‘craic’ at the bar is enjoyable and friendly. 


Part of the Swan Hotel is Barristers, 7 Bradshawgate, BL1 1HJ (01204 365174), which sells Black Sheep Best Bitter and Moorhouse’s Blond Witch and usually 2 guest ales, eg Shepherds Neame Bishops Finger was recently on sale at £2-20 a pint.  There is a traditional pub feel in this listed building from 1845, with a wood panelled interior, and a heated courtyard for those needing to sit outside during colder times.   


If you require food, the Hen & Chickens, 143 Deansgate, BL1 1EX (01204 389836) serves up excellent home cooked food at lunchtimes, though, I believe, the pub may not be open on Sundays, so worth checking first if visiting Bolton on a Sunday.  Ales on sale include Tetley’s Dark Mild and Bitter, and guest beers.  The Hen & Chickens also has a covered outdoor area.


If you’re after a local brewer’s ales, try the Bank Top Brewery Tap, 68-70 Belmont Road, BL1 7AN (01204 302837) which sells 7 ales, on rotation, from the complete Bank Top range from handpulls on the bar.  This is a warm and welcoming pub, with a large outside area and close to the moors, if you prefer walking to football.


As usual, there is a Weatherspoons to recommend, the Spinning Mule, Nelson Square, BL1 1JT (01204 533339), named after the cotton industry machinery invented by Samuel Crompton, born nearby; a statue of whom is in Nelson Square.  Weatherspoons, so you know what you’ll get service, food and drink wise.


Nearer to the Reebok Stadium is the Bromilow Arms‏, Lostock Lane, BL6 4BP (01204 697541), which sells ales from local breweries at a decent price, and serves up a more basic pub food menu. I haven’t been to this pub, but I have seen a number of good recommendations for it.