There is much said in the blogosphere about the new wave of beer bars that are springing up here and there. I'm talking the like of the Euston Tap, Sheffield Tap etc. Well Manchester has one now and last Thursday I set out to see what it had to offer in the company of Tyson the Beerhound.
One thing our destination does offer is a latish four pm opening, so being of thirsty mind and body, we warmed up with few elsewhere. The Angel kicked us off well with some straightforward Pictish Alchemists Gold, while Tyson slurped down a Prospect Mild, but of course he'd been out the night before. Is it me or are both Brewer's Gold and Alchemist Ale a tad sweeter than of yore? Manchester also offers a range of new bars selling a mixed bag of beers. Some even sell cask. One such is Odd, handily placed on the way to our new destination. We struck more than lucky here, with perfect pints of Dark Star Hophead, very much enhanced by sparkling. We had two, so good was the beer and then a quick trip to Common, sister bar of our ultimate destination. Common is a bit grungy, but Tyson liked it well enough, though I reckon that's more from it being a handy late night venue for him than anything else. I was a bit less keen, maybe because my attempt to try Brew Dog's Zeitgeist was foiled, as it was "off."
And so to our destination Port Street Beer House, not more than a hop and skip from Piccadilly. On two drinking levels, with big ground floor windows looking out onto what is a pretty uninspiring back street view, this is a well appointed, modern, subtly lit, rather sophisticated bar, which was attracting a good mix of types. Handpumped and keg draught beers sit comfortably side by side and there are beer fridges with well chosen and interesting contents which are pretty reasonably priced if you pick and choose wisely. We immediately spotted Brew Dog's Alpha Dog on handpump, but were advised by the friendly barman to have a taste first. Good job we did, as its savouriness was severely off putting, as if a few beef stock cubes had been lobbed in the late boil, then a few more for good luck. Not great. Much better was Thornbridge Stout (it has a fancy name which I can't remember) and for comparison purposes, more Hophead.
Upstairs is a rather attractive room for more drinking and further up on the final level are the rather nice toilets. So any complaints? Only one, and that may just have been a one off. The place was cold, but it was a cold night. Nonetheless this is an excellent and very welcome addition to the Manchester beer scene. I'm impressed and looking forward to taking the lovely E there.
I'd like to say we sensibly finished up after a couple of beers and went home for a quiet Horlicks and an early night. But we didn't.
A bit of a CV. Tandleman is a veteran beer lover, local CAMRA Chairman and activist, beer writer, beer reviewer and pursuer of all things good in beer. He lives in the North West of England and London. Despite his CAMRA membership, he does not limit himself to cask conditioned beer, though he believes that cask conditioning, when done correctly and appropriately, brings a quality to beer that is hard to equal by any other kind of presentation. He is a strong supporter of Northern methods of beer dispense and avidly detests poorly presented beer and dislikes pasteurisation. He regularly visits Germany, has conducted corporate British and German beer tastings for CAMRA at the Great British Beer Festival where he has worked for years on Biere Sans Frontieres and was Deputy Organiser at CAMRA's very successful National Winter Ales Festival in 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2012 and at the Manchester Beer and Cider Festival from 2013 to date. He admires good brewers wherever they are and has travelled extensively in pursuit of good beer to drink.
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