Aeons ago, my friends and I served life sciences apprenticeships at several pubs in Rochdale, but we never dared set foot in the Flying Horse. It was reputed to be the pub of choice of the Chief Constable and his cohorts, and we were all under-age at the time.
Nowadays, the “Flyer” as it is known, welcomes all, regardless of name, rank or serial number – as long as you’re old enough, of course. Lunchtime action is around the large bar, where gossip and closely followed TV horse racing reign supreme. There’s an ecumenical mix of patrons, scattered though various corralled areas – a group of housewives, surrounded by shopping bags, analysing life over here, an elderly gent reading a novel over there and a young businessman with a laptop, a mobile, a plate of fish and chips and a pint opposite.
There’s a strong emphasis on Rochdale breweries – at least five at the latest count. The oldest is the Lees Brewery, founded in 1828 and still going strong; while the youngest, the Serious Brewing Company, emerged in 2015. For an aperitif, I went for an old personal favourite, Arizona, a dry, lemony nicely hopped beer at 4.1% abv from the Phoenix Brewery in Heywood. My digestif was Brewsmith’s Bitter, 3.9% abv, another fine hoppy beer, slightly off-piste, as it were, from another new brewery not in Rochdale but in faraway Ramsbottom.