Given that Manchester Beer and Cider Festival is for us that are seriously involved in it, a constant companion, I am likely to have even less time to blog, considering the beer deliveries start this Friday. However, as I'm waiting for yet another festival related phone call, here's a few beery matters that have caught my interest this week.
Firstly, readers may remember this post from September 2010 where I complained that I dislike being greeted at the bar when approaching by "You all right there?" in lieu of actually saying something along the lines of "What can I get you?". Despite it grating for the last two years since I first wrote that it got on my nerves (allowing things to get on your nerves is one of the few joys of growing old by the way) I have borne repeated manifestations of it with dignity, forbearance and patience. I tried a new tactic though in a well known local hostelry last Friday night. It was the same one mentioned in the original post where it has become endemic. When asked this I responded "I'm fine thanks. How are you?" The slightly taken aback barmaid responded with "I'm great thanks. What can I get you?" It was a victory of sorts and I may try it again or just lapse back into unspoken resentment. Not sure which.
On Saturday I was in rather a nice pub to chair the Manchester Beer and Cider Festival Organising Meeting. The Deansgate had very pleasant staff, a good atmosphere, lots of nooks, crannies and distinct drinking areas and the beer was spot on temperature and condition wise. I rather liked it, but since other comments on the web indicate it is a free house, I wonder why there was just three Thwaites beers on at a rather hefty £3.70 a pint. Incidentally, talking of Thwaites, has anyone else found that the Banks' brewed Wainwright is rather an improvement on the Wainwright that Thwaites brewed in Blackburn when they brewed it themselves? I know from conversations with the now retired Head Brewer who designed it, that it was meant to have a degree of sweetness throughout. My findings are that Banks has dried the beer out somewhat giving a much more refreshing drink. For me at least, it is improved - which is rarely the case when a beer is contract brewed - but then again, I regard Banks' as one of the best breweries in the Marstons Group.
Another pub I hadn't been to for ages was the Knott Bar more less across the road. This is under a railway arch and is a mix of traditional and trendy which is evolutionary rather than contrived. It works well and I'd forgotten just how good it is. Excellent beer there from a number of breweries (I enjoyed Acorn Blonde but Marble Ginger less so). All comfortably under £3.70 a pop too. I'll be back. Of course no trip to Manchester is complete without a trip to the Marble Arch. It wasn't my idea, as we'd really enjoyed a stout (can't remember whose) in the Angel and I would have liked another, but I was dragged there by companions. A singer was just setting up, which I found odd as I'd never known it to be a place that has live music. It was jammed - though whether that was the attraction of the singer or not I don't know. None of us enjoyed the beer that much though. Maybe we'd just had enough? I'll try it again soon and report back. It was good to see all the pubs I visited on Saturday so busy. Dry January? Not on this evidence.
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.
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