Visit the Northern Beer Blog site

You’ll be glad to hear that I’ve actually sampled some real ale and visited some new pubs over the last week! I’ve still not been to the new Pump Room yet, but this weekend should see me visit as for the first time in many weeks I have no plans. Last week saw my 41st birthday and I took a day trip out to Manchester for the day to celebrate with the family.
We took a walk down the bottom of Manchester along Deansgate, initially to pop into Dimitri’s at the Spanish Institute for lunch, with good tapas and Mediterranean dishes going down well. Drinks wise the Kozel lager hit the spot, from a choice of similar European beers. We then headed down into the Castlefields area of the city, navigating the many bridges which cross the waterways.
Click to see full size version of photo

It was here we discovered the Wharf. The bar is impressive as you enter, a wide bar with a large open area in front of it, to the sides tables flank the walls and spaces up to the edge of the bar. Whilst upstairs more seats wait for diners on a large balcony giving a spacious double height area as you enter. Outside is a large beer garden with plenty of seating overlooking the water. The bar served 9 real ales on the day with a single real cider offering filling the 10th pump, not one brewery repeated. Distance from brewery is show on the beer list, 5 beers being produced in the Great Manchester region whilst the other 4 are from other parts of the country, a nice balance from my point of view. With myself having heard of only 4 of the brewers before and there being a good range of styles on offer I decide to taste a number of half pints. On the table were Slaters Rye IPA, Mobberley Revelation, Weetwood Cheshire Cat and Cottage Honeybunny.
All the beers where nicely served and looked and tasted like they were kept well. Tasters were offered, always a good sign of the confidence in their beer. The Slater Rye IPA was a good crispy citrus style taste which suited the warm afternoon perfectly. The Cottage Honeybunny was nice straw coloured English session ale, refreshing without too much fuss as it said on the tin. Weetwood Cheshire Cat was a classic blonde citrusy ale, nice citrus notes, but could do with a little something to back that up. Finally Mobberley Revelations was a good pale ale with fruity hops flavouring the beer nicely. The food menu looked good as well if you were in the mood. A venue I’d very happily visit again in nice surroundings, I’d consider it a discovery.
One venue that did disappoint slightly was the Tib Street Tavern in the Northern Quarter, I’ve been before and all 3 pumps have been on with some decent if more common real ale. However this time they only had 1 pump on and that was Saltaire Blonde, not a great option, I ended up having Franchescan Well IPA on keg, brewed in Northern Ireland. The beer was served in a tall branded handled glass and tasted good with plenty of depth of flavour, I’d have brought another, but time was against us shopping and train wise. The rest of the keg lines were a mix of ciders, a number of Czech and quality European beers and mainstream brands. A nice pub to visit, but it needs to sort out it’s real ale selection a touch. * Going slightly off topic, if you are in the Northern Quarter area I recommend you wander around to see some of the great street art as well (click on the images of Bowie and Prince to see better versions).
The last stop of the night was a quick half whilst waiting for a train at the Beerhouse bar in the Manchester Victoria station. Nicely kept in refreshment room style with acres of old polished tiles covering the walls, it is pleasant place to drink. Sadly the real ale selection was uninspiring with the likes of Greene King*dominating on the three pumps on my visit, so I ended up on Budweiser Budvar, which was a nice Czech beer to finish the night off. *The keg lines had a number of European beers along side a few American ales*mixed with the usual mainstream brands.
So while not a real ale tour of the city, some nice beer, a new pub discovery and the weather holding off for a great day out when rounded off with the obligatory visit to Ho’s Bakery in China Town and the bizarre that is Afflecks Place in the Northern Quarter. It’s still my favourite city in the North for a reason.