I like the Soup Kitchen in Manchester. Not a pub, more of a genuine café-bar, it has five handpumps though invariably only three or four are on, some craft kegs, a few good bottles, a great atmosphere and service is always friendly and pleasant. You can perch on infeasibly high stools (beware of your legs going numb and the long drop back to terra firma) and watch the world go by both inside and out. OK I might up the average age by far too many years, but it's a firm favourite of mine and as long as you go during the day, there's a chance you won't be the oldest there.
On Saturday daytime, after very good pints in Pie and Ale, I visited with a mate. It was my round and three beers were on. We dismissed one on the grounds of not fancying it, one on the grounds of strength (7.4%), so we had the other, a Manchester brewery which is pretty new. Squawk Pale Ale (3.9%) was purchased after we sampled it. OK, it was a bit warm, but we went for it. I thought I'd misheard the barmaid when she chimed "£8.20 please" but no, that's what it was. I looked at the board. Other beers were around the £3.50 mark. I asked why so and was advised by the barmaid replied that it is very expensive to buy. Hmm. My answer to that would be "Unless it is extra special, don't buy it then."
Now I know that beer can vary in price, but I reckon £4.10 for this beer, brewed not more than a couple of miles away, is taking the proverbial. It even exceeds most beers in the Port St Beer House and they know how to charge. But who is doing it? Not the pub they say, who are (presumably) applying their standard mark up. They blame the brewery and the price of the strong beer we turned down would seem to indicate this might be the case. Arbor Breakfast Stout, all the way from Bristol and at 7.4%, a lot stronger, was exactly the same price. (No - they don't charge a standard price for beer.) Nor was the beer, while absolutely fine, anything special to justify the price and certainly not as good as either the
Outstanding Green Bullet or the First Chop DOC we'd enjoyed previously.
Of course breweries will charge what the market will stand, as will pubs and good luck to them if they can do it, but for me, that was just too much, whoever is to blame.
We didn't get a duff pint at all on Saturday and most were absolutely top notch. That at least was positive. Roosters The Italian Job confirms the steady rise back to excellence for this brewery.
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.
This blog mentions specifics; pubs and beer, good and bad. The opinions will be forthright, but you can always disagree, just don't be offended. Comments from those mentioned are particularly welcome and a right of reply is hereby offered.
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