Skip to main content

How Great Beer Ruined Everything (A Manchester pub crawl summary)


I have a problem with Manchester at the moment. Over the past year my beer standards have increased dramatically. I no longer seem content with a “decent pint of ale” anywhere. I expect brilliance.

I’ve noticed it now when I go to Leeds. Where I used to have a list of around fifteen places I enjoyed, now I’m only interested in visiting two of them. I’ve noticed it in Huddersfield. Where I used to roam around seven or eight different establishments, now I feel any drink that’s not in The Grove a little inferior. But I am a Manchester lad mainly…

Last weekend I went for a pub/bar crawl around Manchester. These have been infrequent of late thanks to one bar – Port Street Beer House. “Where shall we go for beers?” one of us would say. “Port Street of course,” would say another. And nobody could come up with any reason why we shouldn’t. And to be honest, why WOULD you go elsewhere in Manchester at the minute?

But, through gritted teeth, last week I said no to Port Street as we would be down the Oxford Road and Deansgate area and I suggested we toured the zone, with it housing some great bars and pubs at one time.

And it still does, in that department, not a lot has changed. The Lass O’Gowrie, Sand Bar, Odder, The Temple, Rain Bar, Peveril of the Peak, Briton’s Protection, Cask, The Deansgate and Knott Bar were all visited on our tour. Great places with decent beer and some of them were once personal favourites.

And they HAVEN’T changed, which is precisely the problem. Now they are a little dated. There is more for them to discover. Sure, I’ve always enjoyed Sand Bar’s choices of Helles or Weissbiers on draft. And yes, The Temple’s examples of foreign pilsners have often proved a good break-up to a night out. I’m sure there will still be occasion when this is just what I fancy. But now I want more. And now they could provide so much more.

Why are we suffering from tame, European beer that was last interesting in 2003? Why haven’t these bars updated their selection and moved with the times? Even the cask range in the pubs in this area all seems selected from a 1998 list of decent beer. Isn’t there any opportunity to branch out?

I had some decent beers the other night – most notably was perhaps the Augustiner Dunkel in Cask Bar – but it says a lot that my favourite pint of the night was the classic Coach House Brewery Blueberry Bitter in The Deansgate – which, incidentally, was on terrific form. A lot of beer was distinctly average, but maybe four years ago I would have raved about it. The bar has been raised, as it were. Sand Bar, Odder and The Temple especially have a lot to learn.

Of course I exclude Knott Bar through all this. When we finally reached here I enjoyed a great Hardcore I.P.A. from BrewDog. It seems they have seamlessly embraced the current beer environment. Why can’t the rest of Manchester? So I blame Port Street Beer House solely for spoiling me and making my standards far too high. How dare you encroach on our city with your terrific selection of currently popular beer!

Unfortunately Oxford Road/Deansgate area, you have failed to entice me away from Port Street. Next time, it won’t even be up for discussion…

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Children and Dogs in Pubs and Bars

  I once took my niece to the pub. She was either 1 or 2 years of age. I often looked after her on Saturdays and on one of our weekly walks, for the first time, I stopped by the local pub, mainly because my friend was there with his daughter of similar age. The two kids got on well together and it was a lovely couple of hours; a perfect showcase of adult friends and their children existing in public houses. But my sister was furious. She didn’t rant or rave but her lips were purser than a 90s children’s show teacher. It was here that I learned of the effect that our childhood had had upon her. She recalls many an afternoon being bored in the corner of pubs that our Dad had dragged us to, arms folded in the corner with nothing to do, and she doesn’t want the same for her children. The idea of her first born being taken to pubs infuriates her; fearful that they would be subjected to the same unhappy experiences that she was.  I don’t recall those times in the same way as my s

My Life in Guinness - Drink What You Like

      I first obtained my booze “bragging rights” drinking 4 cans of the black stuff at a house party in my mid-teens. Teenage masculinity was judged on one’s ability to put away alcohol in the early noughties. It appears trite and toxic now but, as a 15-year-old, to hear my older brother’s friends say “Well played mate, I couldn’t down that stuff” was the kind of social praise we devoured.   It didn’t occur to me then that twenty years on the same drink would be causing an industry existential crisis. I wasn’t pondering the reasoning behind my drink choice 20 years ago. It was fairly simple: I drank Guinness because I liked the taste. I differed from my friends in that sense, who chose crates of Fosters and Bacardi Breezers for house parties as it was the done thing. At least two of those present at those gatherings would go on to use the common phrase “Let’s be honest – nobody really likes the taste of beer” in their adult life and expect universal agreement.   It

The Ten Pubs That Made Me - Part 3: Dr Okell's / My Foley's Tap House and Leeds

A pint in Mr Foley's Tap House from December 2022     This is Part 3 (the fourth post) of an ongoing project. Please see the beginning of Part 0 for details.    Come the end of this journey, there may be a lesson in procrastination that I am unlikely to heed. These posts stem from a list that I made three years ago and a series that I embarked on 18 months ago. We’ve only now reached a 30% completion rate and with this post we are back to fail for the second time.   This odyssey began with a trip to Mr Foley’s Tap House in February 2022 – named Dr Okell’s bar on my first visits in 2005 – only to discover that it was closed. It did reopen by the time that the post was coming out and I managed a brief visit in December 2022. However, my July 1 st 2023 trip to Leeds, on which this post is based, is met with this sign at the door of the bar:      A quick check of social media shows an Instagram post from the day before (June 30 th ) announcing the closure of the