The Food Court of Manchester's massive and eponymous Arndale Centre is a little haven from the lookalike chain stores that infest such places. Among stalls selling Chinese, Lebanese, Indian and other foods, facing the tramlines on Church St, is that most blessed and rare of beasts, a beer stall.
For some years it meandered along in a haphazard fashion selling mediocre beer from a Welsh micro in plastic glasses. Recently the lease was taken over by ambitious Manchester Micro Brewer, Boggart. Now Boggart beers aren't to everyone's taste, so is there cause for celebration? An emphatic yes. While Boggart beers do feature, it is the other arm of their operation that provides the real interest. Boggart factors beer for other brewers. It is a major supplier of cask beer to the free trade and to beer festivals. The fruits of this labour feature as guests on the stall. Despite its typical market size, it sports three handpumps for beer, plus Kupper's Koelsch on draught, as well as a handpumped cask cider. It sells a decent range of bottled beers too, including more or less, the full Brew Dog Range.
Yesterday it had a new guest. Thornbridge Cocoa Dance, a chocolate and mandarin mild. This 3.5% dark beer was correctly conditioned, cool and sparkled. Served in glass now - what an improvement - the beer was full bodied and luscious, with just the merest hint of Terry's Chocolate Orange running through it. A very good and interesting beer indeed, served by a charming and chatty barmaid, who made a change from her grumpy and monosyllabic predecessors.
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. He also judges beer at both the International Beer Challenge and the World Beer Awards.
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.
Read my information and links and then decide for yourself. You don't have to be Sherlock Holmes.
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Beer samples are welcome, but I cannot guarantee a good review. You, the brewer, on the other hand can.
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