As I was a-wandering (2 of 4)

WWW 2013 part 2: Manchester (and Salford)

This year there are eleven participating pubs in the city centre (and Salford). Here’s what I found there.

The Marble Arch were offering a twelve-months-aged version of Chocolate Marble, and very nice it was too – more of the stout character I remember of old than I’d tasted in the ‘fresh’ version (the mild version, I suppose I ought to say).

There wasn’t anything very wintry on the bar at the Lower Turks Head. Brightside Amarillo would have qualified on strength grounds, but on an impulse I went for Hobgoblin (which was 4.5% so just qualified). I hadn’t had this in a while (as you can imagine), and I was quite pleasantly surprised – well kept, it’s really not a bad beer.

Over at 57 Thomas St there wasn’t anything dark on draught, but they did have the Marble/Emelisse Earl Grey IPA – a stunning beer, a smooth and mellow combination far greater than the sum of its parts. My only complaint would be that the alcohol is too well hidden – it’s really dangerously drinkable for its 6.8%.

The Castle, to my chagrin, didn’t have Old Tom on when I called. I can’t remember what I settled for, although I’m pretty sure it was a stout. (I draw a stout-coloured blank at the Waterhouse (JDW), too.)

Over in Salford, the New Oxford had Lees‘ Manchester Star on draught – something I’d never seen before; considering that the strength was dialled down to 6.5% from the bottle’s 7.5, I wondered if it was actually a rebadged Moonraker. Not that it matters – it was a fantastic beer either way; rich and dark, with those odd edge-flavours you get in a Burton-style ale (treacly malt, metallic malt, savoury malt…)

Up the road at the Mark Addy I saw the familiar and welcome sight of a Ticketybrew pump clip. Unfortunately it was the Pale Ale – which would have qualified on strength, but since they had Black Edge Stout on I felt duty bound to have that as well. Not a world-beater but a good solid stout, heavy and bitter without any sourness.

At the Bull’s Head near Piccadilly there was nothing that qualified on style, and only one beer – Jennings’ Snecklifter – that qualified on strength. I really didn’t fancy that, so I went for Wychwood Bah! Humbug – which is currently being sold at 4.3% on draught, but used to be much stronger. And that’s what it tastes like, too – a spiced bitter (mostly cinnamon), with some old ale character, but with the strength dialled right down.

The Paramount (JDW) had two or three qualifying beers on, but the standout – and, bizarrely, something of a house beer at this vertical-drinking-oriented city-centre Spoons’ – was Elland 1872 Porter. What a very fine beer that is.

The Deansgate Tavern had a rather fine tiled exterior, a small and uninspiring selection of beers (none of which qualified), a full complement of pre-Christmas boozehounds, a thermostat set on high and two or more people fighting over the music behind the scenes – insipid Christmas hits were replaced abruptly by “Teenage Dirtbag”, which itself was interrupted two minutes in. Not my favourite. I had quite a nice half of Thwaites‘ Lancaster Bomber, though.

Lastly, the Wharf – tucked away behind Deansgate, a mere ten minutes away down alleys, along paths and over canal bridges. Black Hole Brewery‘s Starry Night stout was more than palatable.

So where does that leave us?

This area Total
Old ale / Barley wine 1 2
Porter / stout 6 10
Others (4.5% and over) 2 3
Others (non-qualifying) 2 2

So, more of a Stout Wander so far. Let’s see if Stockport helps matters.

One Comment

  1. Posted 29 December, 2013 at 6:30 pm | Permalink | Reply

    I didn’t know Manchester Star was available on cask,It’s a great bottled beer tho , and may pay a visit to see if it’s still on.
    Likewise I was disappointed not to have any Old tom in the castle on a recent visit- had a pint on Hatters which was poor.

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