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Boddington's Bitter

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The city of Manchester in northern England, UK is blessed with a number of breweries, all producing distinctive beers. Boddington's, however, is arguably the most famous.

From a site adjacent to the infamous Strangeways Prison, a unique and creamy golden bitter beer has been produced for over two centuries.

Boddington's Best Bitter, as it used to be known, was for many years something of a magnet for drinkers, as it could only be obtained within Manchester and only in one or two 'chosen' outlets. You certainly couldn't get it in the south of England where the beer drinkers were traditionally regarded by their northern counterpart as lacking in certain discernment in such matters.

Ultimately, as is the way of the world, Boddington's sold their brewery to Whitbread, a mass producer of high-profile brands. Interestingly, Boddington's retained their own chain of public houses, believing that more profit lay in selling beer than it did in actually brewing it.

The net effect of this transfer of ownership was to make 'Boddies' - popular slang for Boddington's - available throughout the country. True Boddies fans wept into their pints; not only could those 'effete Southerners' enjoy 'The Cream of Manchester'1 but popular opinion at the time had it that the volume of Boddies now being produced to satisfy countrywide demand was far in excess of the capacity of the Strangeways brewery, and that the new owners were making Boddies elsewhere and 'passing it off' as the original item.

This of course proved totally false - a beer brewed elsewhere would not have the distinctive flavour of the genuine article as the water source for true Boddies lies in a well deep inside the Strangeways brewery precincts.

The increase in production means that drinkers everywhere can now enjoy the Cream of Manchester. Whitbread recently sold their entire brewing operation, including Boddies, to a Belgian company called Interbrew thus removing the Cream of Manchester still further from its roots.

1'The Cream of Manchester' is the advertising slogan for Boddington's, used to great effect in print and on television. One memorable advert included a man chasing an ice-cream van across a desert only to be offered a pint by the gorgeous vendor - model, Melanie Sykes - along with the classic line spoken in a broad Manchester dialect, 'Do you want a flake in that, love?'

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