Sunday, 3 January 2016

Letting Standards Slip?

You can't but fail to know that  Manchester is one of the best cities for pubs and drinking in the UK.  It gets a fair old lot of praise from many writers who tend to just dip in, have a few beers in a renowned watering hole and then bugger off back to where they came from, singing its praises and returning the their main and desired theme of how good London is beer wise, even though it isn't as good as is alleged really.  Up here we know how good Manchester is beer wise, but of course that can vary a little too.

New openings though do keep everyone on their toes - or at least should if the incumbents have any sense - and we've had one or two.  I rather like the Smithfield Market Tavern in its new Blackjack Brewery Tap get up, though it was of course a very famous but down- at-heel pub back in the day, but got exceedingly tattier (it was always tatty) as the years rolled on.  At least I could always be assured of a late drink there as I was one of those - rather a large number it must be said - who could knock on the side door and be admitted.  It was taken over not that long ago and money spent on it, but it wasn't a great success, mainly as standards were poor and the beer was usually shite or off.  Now it is clean, popular and booming in the hands of people who know what they are doing and who have turned a failure into what seems to be a roaring success.

Other notables are the much awaited Cafe Beermoth in Spring Gardens, described by my good friend Tyson here which I visited during the Christmas period. It was trading well and was enjoyable as much for the varied and pleasant clientèle, as for the excellent range of beers, sensible pricing, great service and the general feel of the place. It needs to settle in, and I would have liked to see more cask and less keg, but I liked it nonetheless and it will likely be a sure place to visit when I'm in town. Also praised and described by Tyson (and by Stonch no less)  is a place that is certainly is at the other end of the spectrum. Albert's Schloss is an astonishing and expensive conversion of a grand old building on Peter St, just a few doors down from the gloomy BrewDog.  This is a breathtakingly cheeky pastiche of a German Beer Hall, complete with a mostly German menu, an in house bakery, German beers and the biggest draw of all, to this
writer, Tankovna Pilsner Urquell.  It is big - on a grand scale in fact - brash, cheerful, expensive and attracting a mixed crowd. It will be interesting to see how well this will trade in future, but I fancy it will do well enough.

So what's all this got to do with the title of this blog post?  Well, in comparison to these new places, into each life a little rain must fall. I have heard tales that some of the more "established" places - and these aren't that old - have dropped their guard more than somewhat and are losing their lustre by changing what worked before and not for the better.   Three at least have had their fair share of complaints about them and I know many who are now giving them a miss. Name names I hear you say. Well not on this occasion, but you can take a good guess I'm sure if you know Manchester.

The point though is this. In the pub game and in a place like Manchester with so much competition, you have to keep at the top of your game. As always, "It's the offer Stupid."

I'm looking forward to trying the German food at Albert's Schloss. In house bakery sounds good too. Have to say the Urquell was lovely, but at a fiver a go, it should be.


Phil said...

No idea where you're talking about, but I might be able to work it out by a process of elimination - plenty of pubs and bars in Manchester, but not so many that are in the same sgame as the Smithfield and have been around long enough to be called 'established'. I mean, I assume you're not talking about the City, the Vine, the Nag's Head, the Rising Sun, the Sawyer's Arms, the Briton's, the Pev, the Salisbury, the Grey Horse, the Circus, the Seven Stars, the Unicorn, the Millstone, the Castle, Gulliver's, the Old Garrett, the New Union, Manto, the Shady Lady or Tommy Duck's! (And those are only the ones I've been in.)

Tyson said...

Good post. Yes, the Smithfield has seen a remarkable phoenix-like rise in fortunes and, after a somewhat rocky start, is really shaping up well.

Of course there are only so many hipsters to go round and the new kids on the block look set to benefit from some of the one-time favourites taking their eye off the ball.

Erlangernick said...

Port St.?

Tandleman said...

Nick. You may say so. I couldn't possibly comment.

Phil: You are skirting round the area of concern to some and miss a key point of my remarks. "I have heard tales that some of the more "established" places - and these aren't that old"

See also above. Have a pie and think about it. (-;

Phil said...

If Pie & Ale is 'established', what does that make Kosmonaut or the Gaslamp?

I've never had a poor quality beer in P&A, but I will say that I can't think of another bar that's gone down in my estimation so far and so quickly - from "ooh, shiny!" to "why did I come in here?" in three visits flat. If I wanted to watch sport on telly while drinking a novelty Christmas beer from some regional no-mark I'd... well, I'd seek professional help, to be honest.

Joe Hill said...

Haven't had a decent pint at the Briton's for a while, I'm sorry to say.