Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Whats happened to Manchester

We all have our favourite drinking towns. Obviously high on the list comes Huddersfield, with Sheffield and Derby being up there and I have a great liking for Manchester and Salford. So, armed with my £5 old geezers train ticket, I set off for Manchester in anticipation of what a days drinking there may hold in store. I was seriously disappointed.

I have a route that I take around the towns and usually set off at the furthest point away from the station and make my way back. The first port of call was the The Crescent on the main drag through Salford. Here I was happy to find my first new beer of the day and even more chuffed to find the new Mallinsons house beer on the bar. 'Crescent Pale' is a 4.1% light beer,very moreish and only available at the pub. Well worth the rail fare just for that. I followed this with a new beer from Slaters, who seem not to get to Huddersfield now, and then something called 'Crescent Special no3' which was brewed for the pub by Northern brewery. My gripe with this is that it was on the bar with a handwritten pump clip and no suggestion as to what its provenence may be. The drinker has no idea what the beer really is, because I am sure that Northern will have not brewed a full brew length of the beer. I suspect it to be a rebadge of some other beer, but that is impossible to prove, it just makes me very wary.

Anyway, off down the road to the New Oxford in Bexley Square. A pub that is a must visit pub on my trips, and the winner of many awards. I must admit though, on my last few visits I have been disappointed with the beer range in the 'Ox', I have my suspicions as to why, but there is not room on the blog to go into them. Being mid week, there were only about half of the pumps in operation, but that gave me a choice of 8 beers to choose from. Unfortunately, I had sampled most before, and settled for a new Boggart brew and an offering from Bollington, rare but not inspired. One of my Mancunian collegues was luckier, with 6 possible ticks so may be the beers had reached Salford after West Yorkshire. The quality was good but there was not enough to keep me here longer than neccessary so I was off again.

My route here sometimes takes in 2 further Salford pubs. However today I decided to trip into Manchester's northern quarter.I know there are those who enjoy the Marble Arch, I do, but today due to restrictions on my rail ticket, I could only fit 3 more pubs in. I bypassed the Angel and made my way to the Smithfield on Swan St. Another disappointment. Plenty of beer on the bar, but nothing new and mostly standard beers from standard breweries, served by a barmaid who seemed more interested in chatting to her mates rather than serving me. A swift half of Acorn 'Conquest' and on the Bar Fringe across the road.

The Fringe is well worth a call if you have never been before, with a vast array of foreign beer supplemented by 5 handpumps. Again though, there was only one new beer, although this was a new Allgates beer for St Patricks day. The drawback her was the presence of a toddler who spent its time running up and down and screaming. Not a convivial drinking atmosphere.

So, off again. This time to the Micro Bar in the Arndale Centre. Another must visit bar, which generally provides something interesting on its 4 pumps. This time, only 3 were in operation, 2 with Boggart beers,(they own the bar) and one from Crondall, which I later learned had been there for a few days, and was not a spectacular beer.

All in all, not the most successful day of the drinking year. Don't let my findings put you off trying the Manchester pubs, all I am giving is a one day snap shot, but in my humble opinion, the variety of beers seems to have diminished, and the quality of some of the pubs likewise. Never mind, there's always next time.


Tyson said...

Hmmm. I think the review is a bit harsh under the particular circumstances. Apart from possibly the Micro Bar, there wasn't actually anything wrong with any of the pubs. Quality was fine which is want most punters are interested in.

And there wasn't any problem with variety as such, it was just that being a ticker there wasn't enough new ticks on offer.

Once upon a time, Manchester was a contender for being No.1 on the tickers chart, but, apart from festivals, those days are long gone. I'd advise you that if you want to get the most out of Mncr's pubs, to forget the ticking aspect and just enjoy them as a day out. Otherwise the law of ticking-the more you have, the more difficult it is to find new ones, will mean you become increasingly disillusioned with what Mncr has to offer.

Bearing all that in mind, it's unfortunate that you bypassed the Angel. It usually has 7-8 on and in terms of new ticks, has more to offer than the Smithfield.

Anonymous said...

You seem to place the importance of a "tick" ahead of consistency and quality. If a pub has only half of its pumps active midweek then this is to improve beer quality. You are a moron of the highest order.

Timbo said...

Thanks for your comments. I actually agree with both of them, (apart from the bit about being a moron). I am a ticker, and accept that I do partly rate the pubs on the ticks available, but I also enjoy the pubs for what they are, and like everyone, I want the quality of the beer to be good. I only say what I see. I know that pubs run their range down midweek to maintain quality,particularly the Ox but my concern on this occasion was the lack of interesting beers around the city, for which it has been synonymous in recent times. Maybe I caught it on a bad day. The problem is, as I see it, that we all drink for different reasons and if I am going out of Town, I would like to try new beers that I cannot get at home, hence the above blog and my comments.

Timbo said...

As regards the Angel, I have only visited it once but I was impressed by the range, and as Tyson states it may be better to go there rather than the Smithfield. I have tried the Angel on a Sunday but was unhappy to find it closed, which I believe is a regular occurence

Anonymous said...

Definately try the Angel above the Smithfield, or if after ticks only the Marble, they always seem to have some new/interesting breweries on. I agree with Tim on the whole, and if ticking is your thing, and it was stated in the article that this was the case, then it would have been a disappointing day. I love visiting Manchester and Salford, but if you want the ticks then the weekend is your best bet. Just off to deliver 3 nines to the New Oxford..pip pip!! Tara