There is a new bar in Manchester. The Blue Pig is on High Street and owned by Odd it seems. Nice inside, with bare boards, lots of distressed metal and a little attractive side bar-cum-stall - though it isn't apparent if it is just a service point - selling Spanish meaty things, which looked rather tasty. It doesn't have any fancy craft fonts, but was selling a couple of weakish cask beers at a hefty £3.30 a pint on Saturday. I had Lancaster Straw which at 3.5% and well, straw coloured, was presumably their take on the Windermere Pale genre. Hawkshead can rest easy. This was wishy-washy, thin and disappointing with scarcely a hop to lift it. You do wonder what thought processes went behind that one. Hornbeam Chestnut was the choice of my mate Mike. It did what it said on the pumpclip and delivered a chestnut coloured beer of zero character. This place is in a great location and has a lot of potential, but the welcome was entirely absent, as was eye contact. That always makes for a less than comfortable experience, so a work in progress.
We called next at Odd, oddly enough. We had by contrast, a very warm and cheery welcome there and although the Phoenix Hopsack was in great nick, it was a fair bit too warm. It was likely the first pints poured I suppose and again we paid £3.30 a pop. A step up in both quality, welcome and class next. If you read this blog you will know that I am a great fan of the Port St Beer House. They just do the right things. While many criticise the high prices, these tend to be the fancy keg beers, which like other such places, are charged way beyond what can be justified by ingredients, taxation, or whatever, but you don't have to buy these. The cask beers and indeed some of the weaker keg beers are pretty well priced for the absolute quality, the cheerful service with advice, the offer of tasters and the environment which just makes it a very nice place in wich to drink. Mike,a newcomer to PSBH, was very impressed. We drank Magic Rock Curious, which did have a touch of diacetyl, but in bearable quantities. So much so that we continued with that beer in the main, though I did have a few other halves, trapped there by heavy showers which came just as we finished our pints.
A word too about Brodie's All Brett IPA. I was given, unasked, a taster of this and was impressed. Before he finished his shift, Will the manager, gave me another larger taste. What a fantastic beer. OK, you couldn't drink a lot of it, but it was classy and elegant, with a distinct Brett character and brilliant hopping. I almost wish I had a notebook with me to tell you all about it, but I didn't have. Instead, just try it if you can. A truly lovely beer.
I reckon the thing about the Port St Beer House (and Craft in London too) which sets them apart from, say, BrewDog, is the mix of cask and keg craft. It encourages a good cross section of drinkers, beer styles and beer cultures. I firmly believe that encouraging a cross section of drinkers is just a better way to do things. It is also more pubby that way.
"Aha" I hear you say. What about cask only pubs? Well, what about them? There's a nice little piece about the owner of Odd here. Quite interesting
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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