Saturday 21st January 2012
Small but definitely perfectly formed is a good, yet apt, description of the First Chop on the main road in the village of Ramsbottom. So small, in fact, that you might miss it. Through the front door and you are immediately facing the bar. There are always five cask beers on offer and also a number of ciders and perries. There are few very small tables near the front window and a shelf and some stools facing the bar. Further back in the room are more tables.
There is a downstairs area for drinking with an entrance to the pub. If I remember correctly the toilets and kitchen are upstairs. None of these spaces are large. What about the beers? Well, on the occasion of my visit there were the following on offer: Titanic (Burslem, Staffs) Iceberg (4.1%); Phoenix (Heywood) White Monk (4.5%); Thornbridge (Bakewell, Derbys) Wild Swan (3.5%); Hawkshead (Staveley, Cumbria) Cumbrian Fine Hop – Citrillo (5.0%) and finally the house beer First Chop Bitter aka FCB (3.6%). It is the owner's intention to have his own brewery, but not on the premises, and at the time he was brewing at Outstanding Brewing of Bury. The brewing side of the operation is known, logically, as First Chop Brewing Arm.
There was also Two Trees Perry from Gwynt y ddraig Cider Co of Pontypridd, South Wales. There are up to four ciders and perries available at any one time. There are many things going on in this pub along with some extremely good offers. There is a loyalty card with which you have to purchase five beers and get the sixth free. The only drawback to this very generous offer is that the card has to be completed in seven days. However, should you be a CAMRA member, and lets face it, you should be, the card is indefinite.
Another thing you should do is to arrive in Ramsbottom on the East Lancs Railway. And should you do so, you are rewarded with another generous offer as you can claim 10% off beer and 20% off food. Not after 19.00 on Saturday and Sunday with the latter offer. Just show your train ticket to take advantage.
There is plenty of music at the First Chop as there's a band every Thursday at 21.30. On Sunday from 17.00 there is a jam session in the styles of Blues, Roots and Soul.
There's a DJ on Friday and Saturday nights and my final comment on the subject of music is that there is a nice piece of art-work displayed in the bar offering homage to the late great Frank Zappa.
All in all, this is a great little pub and comes highly recommended.
THIS PUB CLOSED BRIEFLY AND RE-OPENED AS THE RAMSBOTTOM TAP.
First Chop, 43 Bolton Street, Ramsbottom, Greater Manchester BL0 9HU. Tel: 01706 827722
Open: Tuesday to Sunday 12.00-24.00
It is only about five minutes from the Ramsbottom station on the East Lancs Railway. This runs from Heyward via Bury (Bolton Street) and Ramsbottom to Rawtenstall. The railway runs at weekends for most of the year and during the week in summer months and around public holidays. If you can't arrive by that method there are plenty of buses from Bury, which is at the end of a line on the Manchester Metrolink (Tram) network.