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?
|Old ale / Barley wine||1||2|
|Porter / stout||6||10|
|Others (4.5% and over)||2||3|
So, more of a Stout Wander so far. Let’s see if Stockport helps matters.