Hidden Gems of the Northern Quarter

It’s a Thursday and I’m sat at my desk, hungover as fuck trying to look busy. So here’s the deal. I’m going to write something for the blog and barely proof read it. Enjoy.

These are the pubs in the Northern Quarter that I think do real ale or a really decent pint for a reasonable price(for the Northern Quarter).

The Lower Turk’s Head

turkshead

http://www.turksheadhotel.co.uk/ Not much info here but the hotel looks nice.

The Turk’s Head is on the Shudehill side of the NQ and has been done up in the last few years. Does an absolutely excellent pint of Manchester Pale Ale for around £3.50. The two bars are cosy and friendly with lots of seating. It’s a comfy friendly pub with lots of people going in after work. There’s extra seating and a smoking area upstairs. I think they do food too but I’ve never had it. It’s also handy for the Printworks if you’re into that, more my style is that it’s near The Oyster Bar.

The Hare and Hounds

Manchester-HareAndHounds-Exterior

The Hare and Hounds is a recent find for me. I was taken in by my Dad, partially I think for his own amusement, but I like it. It’s a Holts pub so a nice pint of Holt’s Bitter will cost you under £3 or at least 2 pints were under £5. It’s a real regulars pub though everyone seems ok… most of the reviews online say ‘real old fashioned boozer’ and I’d agree with that. It really is a spit and sawdust kind of place.

The Crown and Kettle

crown and kettle

The Crown and Kettle is becoming a regular haunt for me instead of the Castle which has become very busy. It’s just across the road from the Frog and Bucket on Ancoats. It’s a strange place to walk into and has a massive high ceiling which apparently used to be very ornate but has nearly rotted and is covered in netting to stop crumbling plaster falling in your pint.

They always seem to have at least one Osset beer on too which is to be commended. A pint costs around £3 maybe just under and I’ve had a great variety of nice beers in there. Definitely worth dropping in.

The Angel

the angel pub

The Angel is a good solid old pub with open fires and a few real ales. It’s near that massive Co-op Building and Last time I had a pint of Spitting Feathers which is a great pint. he last time I was in some maintenance needed to be done on the ceiling but I’ve been told that’s all be fixed now. It’s slightly off the beaten track though.

The Crown and Anchor

crownanchor-outside

The Crown and Anchor has an interesting mix of tiled outside and hospital chic inside. They have a few good real ales on including Timothy Taylors. There is also a whole room dedicated to a pool table, the staff are friendly and it’s off the beaten track. Well worth a drop in, it’s not the cheapest but you’ll always have a peaceful drink.

http://www.crownandanchormanchester.co.uk/

Fringe Bar

fringe bar
Directly opposite the Band on the Wall and where I went after a gig. It was excellent, the barman welcomed us in even though we clearly arrived as he was about to start cleaning and shutting up. We had some excellent guest ales and put stuff on the jukebox until it was time to leave.

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Lass O’Gowrie Redux

thelass

Someone must have listened to me and the power is quite frightening. When I started the blog, before the long lull. I wrote a whole post on the Lass O’Gowrie, in it I basically bemoaned it being a really good pub with serious flaws in the way it was set out.

Read it here if you want:

https://drinkingaloud.wordpress.com/2012/12/

If you didn’t then inside was cluttered, full of old crap and generally hard to be comfortable in. They refurbished it earlier this year but this is the first chance I’ve had to go in, we started in there from work on what it was to become a messy night.

Slightly blurred due to 3 pints and no food. Things went downhill quickly from here.

Slightly blurred due to 3 pints and no food. Things went downhill quickly from here.

They’ve obviously spent serious money on the place and it just feels brighter less grimy and cluttered. The beer selection was pretty much the same which is good and the staff were friendly. They’ve added benches at it’s narrowest point and that makes it easier to get past. All these smaller things add up to it being a much more pleasant place to grab a pint.

It hasn’t lost any of it’s charm though and it hasn’t been turned into a soulless pub. They left the nice bar and snug. The place is just pleasant. I had a red beer which was good and well kept but I’ve forgotten what it was called now.(I was quite… pissed.) I would recommend it again, also you can go to Joshua Brooks next door which is excellent. More on that soon.

Crawling from Paramount to Cask

I am alive. My liver is functioning and I now have time to start writing about drinking again. There are quite a few reasons why I’ve been absent(bought a house, applied for lots of jobs, been poor, got new job, had no time!) because it’s been a bit of an odd year. I’m going to try and do at least one pub review a month next year but until then I’ll tell you about a really good pub crawl I did a few weeks ago.

 

In classic drinkingaloud style start in the Paramount –

The Paramount - Manchester

The Wetherspoons on Oxford road. If you have a smaller party start in the Old Grey Horse or the Circus the two tiny pubs on Portland street (but we had more than two people).

 

The Paramount was standard Wetherspoons, quite busy but coping. It’s gets a bit mad in there and is one of the bigger ones in Manchester. It’s good for the train station and bus though. We had a quick pint in there, something pale but my friend couldn’t remember what.

 

We then moved on to The Temple –

temple1

I really like the Temple but you have to pick your moments with it. We went slightly later a few weeks after and could barely get in the door. It’s an ex – public toilet and has getting close to the worst toilets in Manchester. The bar is so small all the ales are bottled. I had Coniston Bluebird which is a nice Bitter. The glasses are pretty much always warm in there too so once you’ve cooled the first down with your pint keep hold of it. They do a range of different bottled beers and have Tuborg on tap. We managed to get a table but the place fills up very quickly.

It's tiny.

It’s tiny.

The Temple belongs in the Northern Quarter but is infinitely better because it isn’t there. The juke box is excellent and usually playing something I like(this is entirely subjective) and we debated not moving on and staying there until we had to go home. However variety i the spice of life so we moved on down the road.

 

The Peveril of the Peak –

peveril-300

 

It’s an odd pub to say the least. Green tiled outside and with slightly bizarre opening times it has a weird little garden on the top of it that looks like a Wallace and Gromit model. It’s quite expensive but well worth a visit because it’s rare for these pubs to still exist.

 

There are a few rooms and its bigger than it looks inside so even if it seems busy you can usually find a seat. We were in there for one before heading over to

Rain Bar –

rain-bar-outside-front__260x160

Rain Bar used to be an umbrella factory. It’s fairly generic inside but the beer is excellent. They have JW Lees MPA which is one of the best pale ales I’ve had for a long time. I can heartily recommend it. There isn’t much else to say apart from there is a good beer garden for the summer and that the food is OK. Just down the road is the

The Briton’s Protection –

bp

It’s unfortunate that the pub’s name will put people off because it immediately puts you in the mind of a Britain First off shoot. It is nothing like that and is a really, really good pub. It’s a Robinsons pub so you can get Unicorn amongst many other things. It still has the original decor and loads of seats and rooms. It’s standard Manchester prices so don’t expect it to be cheap but it’s a really cool old boozer and you should go.

 

Cask –

cask

Eventually we stumbled into Cask it’s near MOSI and is a real hidden gem. It’s not the best place but it is just off deansgate. Now usually they have a good selection on but tonight they had very little in the form of handpumps. I went for one of the lagers because I didn’t fancy the one handpump beer that was left which I think was a stout. I had a high end lager, which was nice and cleared my head a little. Cask is pretty rustic in it’s furnishings but that makes it mre about the beer. It’s a good simple bar that’s always pleasantly buzzing and friendly.

 

I think someone picked us up after that but to be honest I just don’t know.

 

8 Pints\6 Pubs.

Fuck the Cinema

I was on my way to the cinema with my girlfriend yesterday night to see Kick-ass 2 when I suddenly realised that I actually didn’t want to go and I would prefer a drink. I then realised that the ticket price was worth two pints. So I suggested a few pubs in an area we rarely ever go to.

It’s Liverpool road near the Museum of Science and Industry. Along that strip there is quite a worthwhile miniature pub crawl. I do this research so you don’t have to.

the ox

First of all we went to The Ox, it had a decent range of beers, mainly good standards such as Timothy Taylor’s Landlord but we both plumped for one of my favourites Copper Dragon. It was £3.50 a pint which is standard really. I’ve described it a lot before but it is a lovely pint it’s light and refreshing. It always goes down well.

copper dragon golden

The Ox is definitely a gastro pub with a few areas roped off just for food service and the main drinking area directly in front of the bar. This does stop us lowly drinkers sitting on the larger tables or tucking ourselves into the comfier corners of the pub. So we sat next to the door where fat middle aged people kept bumping into the table, nearly spilling the precious beer. There is definitely an older clientèle in The Ox but I think that’s because of the food. Apart from the seating arrangements, I liked the pub, inside was nice, the staff were friendly and the food looked good. But this is not a blog about food so we moved on.

deansgate

We moved on up to The Deansgate which had another decent range on with Copper Dragon again and an offering from the conwy brewery. I wondered which one to go for at the bar and was immediately offered a sample, which is always a good sign of a beer drinker’s pub. It was £7.20 for the round.

minersmountain

In the spirit of adventure I went for the Menera Mountain Ale from the conwy brewery, it was OK not as light as Copper Dragon but it was a nice drinker though fairly unremarkable with a slightly bitter taste. The tasting notes say this ‘This special beer is hoppy, moorish and ideal for summer as it is infused with heather to add floral flavor.’  I have to say I don’t remember any of that only that I quite liked it and would have happily had another. That’s a recommend from me.

The Deansgate is a nice pub, mainly wood panelled and with a varied age range. We found a quiet little corner to hole up in. There’s a lot of tram memorabilia around which was interesting, I felt like with a few more people inside it would have been a lot cosier. We’ll definitely go back to see what the next guest ale will be.

cask

Next we headed down to Cask which was very busy and we were offered a taster of the beers we were looking at which again is a really nice touch. Straight away Cask was my favourite, it was a good atmosphere and an interesting crowd, friendly bar staff good music which wasn’t overpowering  and a good range of ales and lagers.

caskgold

I went for Brewers Gold from the Pictish brewing company which was a nice mid strength beer. Nothing special but nice, smooth and light. Chantelle went for the IPA with the best brewers name of the night Ticketybrew which was much stronger with a more distinct taste which I don’t think I could have had a pint of. We had a really great time in there and it was the only place we thought about staying for another pint. Most of the seating is wooden chairs and stools which means there is plenty to go round but it isn’t the comfiest.

Despite looking like a young person’s place it was nice to see some older people in there it gave the place a great feel. Cask is my recommend of the night. The round was the cheapest as well at £6.40. I noticed there was a covered smoking area in the back as well which was good if you’re a smoker.

white lion

The final place we went was the White Lion, this was the most expensive, had the strangest clientele and we just generally didn’t get a good feel in there. They had TVs which I never like to see in a boozer though they had music on which is better than just having the news on mute but it was Magic so it’s swings and roundabouts. We both had pints of Hooky which is a nice beer not unlike Copper Dragon but a bit thicker, the round cost us £7.80! You can get Hooky very cheap elsewhere and there didn’t seem to be a reason for it to be so expensive.

hooky beer

I feel like the place just needs a bit more life to it, maybe some interesting guest beers. Considering cask was heaving and here was quiet I think they need to do something. The inside was nice but the outside wasn’t particularly welcoming. We would have just skipped it, I think, had it not been for this blog. Sadly I don’t think we would have missed much, more effort required.

This area is definitely worth a visit and we’ll be crawling this area again. Possibly stopping in The Ox for food.

 

In Search of Hydes

I just went for a calm afternoon drink yesterday, finally having some theoretical disposable income. Beer tokens so to speak. So I went and met Billy in Didsbury, we had a serious craving for Hydes.

Genuinely one of the top things when you google Hydes beer. Look how happy she is!

Genuinely one of the top things when you google Hydes beer. Look how happy she is!

Hydes pubs in Manchester seem to be getting rarer and rarer, there’s the Old Grey Horse on Portland Street but that’s a Man City pub and it was match day so we gave that one a miss. In fact town has been so busy on saturdays because of the football we decided to give Didsbury a try instead. Though I did go in the old grey horse the other week and it was really nice, quite tiny but friendly with a good atmosphere. Apart from that you have to head out into the ‘burbs.

image

Anyway we went in the Fletcher Moss in Didsbury just off School Lane, it was £2.54 a pint. Win. It looks like like a small place but it’s big inside we found a spot in the corner. Hydes is a nice light beer, it’s a just slightly hoppy and a real session beer. The Fletcher Moss was comfortable and just busy enough to give it some atmosphere but not to be too busy.

image

These were our seats for the whole session.

These were our seats for the whole session.

We used to drink it all the time in the Gateway but no-one was ever in so it ended up being turned into a Wetherspoons which saved it I suppose, but before that it was great drinking hole. Now it’s busy all the time, but it’s not the dark place that always felt like it was on the verge of a lock-in. In fact I vaguely remember being locked in against my will, good times.

image

We just stayed there and drank many, many pints of Hydes after six pints or so and a few missed a few buses home. it’s nice to be in a pub that doesn’t feel like they want you to leave if you don’t order food which seems to be what’s happening further out of town. Gastro-pubs don’t really care about beer they just want food money. Speaking of food at that point we needed some food. So in traditional stationary crawl tradition we went to Wetherspoons. Whoever invented the beer and burger is a genius but I’m unsure if they were on the side of good or evil.

image

They had Jaipur on as well so I ordered that but it was a mistake because it’s so strong. Jaipur is lovely fruity and surprisingly easy to drink but it’s 5.9% so I could only manage half(don’t worry Chantelle finished it). I don’t remember much after that. It was a good day.

The Tiger Lounge

It has been quite a while fellow drinkers that I have been out and had anything to write about. We go for quality over quantity here which, depending how the mood takes us, is also how we like our alcohol.

I started off the evening by having a EPA(English pale ale) with my dinner which was ok. If I was out I’d use it as a standard inbetweener kind of drink rather than something I would enjoy but you know beggars can’t be choosers.

We had been invited to a friends leaving do at the Tiger Lounge in Manchester and interestingly, no one from my close drinking fraternity had ever been. Which is odd because we have been to most places. What put us off, I think, is that it kind of looks like a strip club from the outside(my girlfriend disagrees with this).

Tigers are big pussies.

Tigers are big pussies.

It’s kind of a bar pretending to be a club. You don’t have to pay in until later though which means you can get in early and take advantage of the two cocktails for £5 offer which lasts until around 11. We arrived around 9 and it was still very quiet. Descending down the stairs into the gloom it smelled a bit but once you got used to that it was quite nice. It has seating all around the outside of the room with a few little cubbies off the main room and a small dance floor in the middle. It was quite bright as well so I could see where I was going.

There was a good range of cocktails on the 2 for a fiver menu like Mai Tai, Long Island ice tea, White Russian, cosmopolitan. I had two Tequila Sunrises, I like tequila sunrise. I like that it’s thicker at the bottom. Normally on these deals you get mainly juice but this blew my head off, it was the real thing there was a similar reaction from my fellow drinkers as well.

tequilasunriseposter

They had San Miguel and Carling on the bar plus Guinness, I think they had Rekorderlig as well but my memory and head are a little hazy this morning so I’m not entirely trust worthy. After 4 tequila sunrises I was nicely inebriated. The music was excellent, all Motown, blues and funk record which we really enjoyed but we were still able to talk making this a good night and a good bar/club.

However the problem comes when the cocktail deal runs out and each cocktail is around £4.50 which makes the price of your evening rocket up past 11. To finish my friend bought a straight double vodka for something like £4.70 I’m not a fan of vodka but that stuff was rough… Now we know how the cocktails can be so cheap.

We were flagging at this point so instead of going home as a compromise we went to the old favourite the Wetherspoons Waterhouse which is next door. We all know it’s pretty cheap in there and we had one more round. There is a debate raging about what to drink after cocktails, wine doesn’t mix, ale is definitely too heavy, shorts are good if you can drink some more sweet stuff but I went with a bottled lager. Sticking with the tequila theme of the evening I went with a Desperado which is Tequila beer and I’ve been OK today so the mix can’t have been too bad.

Tequila flavoured beer. What could go wrong?

Tequila flavoured beer. What could go wrong?

Then we got turfed out by a man who sounded like he was the unwilling collaborator in a prison escape movie and the police are about to show up as he told us ‘you have to leave’. So we did.

Black Dogs and Englishmen

I went out for a friends birthday on Saturday and unusually I deceided to drink lager. I had a couple of stubbies before we went out and decided that I’d stay on lager to avoid mixing the fizziness of lager with ale.

Let me say now I have decided that lager does not agree with me. It’s not that I’m an ale buff and I think lager is bad and the mark of the devil, it’s more that it doesn’t suit me. Like putting diesel in a petrol engine, it fucks everything up.

tuborg

So I had the stubbies then we went to Wetherspoons as a special stage on the way to the main event. At this point I had Tuborg which is pretty nice… for a lager. Lagers taste much of a sameness to me. The thing is I can tell a high quality one from a low budget hangover juice but the difference is much more subtle than ale. So I think Tuborg is pretty much in the middle of the road, though it’s very fizzy. So I had a desperado for my next drink. Which if you haven’t tried it is great stuff, it’s tequila flavoured beer! You can only get it bottled but it’s very refreshing and not too fizzy. Wetherspoons was good ‘n’ cheap as usual and that’s all I can say on that one, though I regret not getting some ale.

the waterhouse

desperado

We then moved on to the Garret which was the staging area for the birthday party. It has to be one of the ugliest pubs in Manchester. The Garret is one of those pubs that was cool when you were 18. It always seems to be too busy, there’s no ale which is why I hadn’t bothered with any all night. Despite how it looks it isn’t cheap either with most lagers being well over the £3 mark, well over…

This was the best picture I could find it's like the photographer was trying to avoid showing it in all it's grim glory.

This was the best picture I could find it’s like the photographer was trying to avoid showing it in all it’s grim glory.

The best thing you can get in there are the £8 pitchers of cocktail and it keeps all the dicks out of the good pubs, like some sort of knobhead magnet. I had kronenburg though, it’s definitely a lager… In hindsight I should have moved on to cocktails, this is where the headache started to develop. The other problem with the Garret is it’s next to 5th Avenue so you get studenty people pre-drinking which is never pretty plus the weird old guys who watch all the girls and try to re-live their 20’s. It’s pretty obvious they don’t belong, you can see their beer bellies.

Yup it's lager...

Yup it’s lager…

It’s very cramped in there as well when it gets busy. Plus we’ve been kicked out before when some bitch claimed my friend had pushed her in the toilets and she was ‘friends’ with the managers. So yeah maybe I don’t like the Garret there’s nothing to drink the people in there are usually idiots and the music to loud which is the final nail in the coffin because what’s the point of being in the pub when you can’t talk to people, not that you’d want to talk to anyone in there. Also there are TVs on the wall it’s like all my pet hates rolled into one. No-ones watching them, turn them off!

Black-Dog-Ballroom-New-Wakefield-Street-e1353797654879-472x264

This is where we move to the new Blackdog Ballroom off Oxford Road near the Thirsty Scholar and Font. I thought this was just going to be the usual club style, pay to get in, be forced to sit in a loud room while other people dance and I don’t. It wasn’t like that at all, there are three levels a top bar, a lower bar and a club level below. We didn’t have to pay in which is always good in my book, this became interesting when we could sit comfortably upstairs and talk without loud music, in a club! It was nice I have to say but again it was a bit pricey. £3.70 for a pint of Tuborg though it came in an actual glass, in a club! It’s like they trust you or something.

We lost the birthday girl in a haze of alcohol and our party of four split the drinkers stayed upstairs and the dancers went downstairs and for one I actually had a good time in a club. It was comfortable, not too loud and had a bit of atmosphere. There are big comfy sofas and we availed ourselves on these whilst we drank and waited for our dancing friends. I should now mention they had cocktails as well, these were £6 each so not the cheapest but then again unlike most clubs it was a comfortable place to drink. So you know I’m all for it. There were loads of pool tables as well which were busy but definitely a nice touch. We would have been better meeting in there and just moving downstairs when we felt like it instead of suffering through the Garrett.

Now normally this is where these reviews end but my hangover the next day after drinking lager (which I don’t normally drink) gets special mention. It was like the tiny men inside my head were all on pogo sticks trying to escape by hitting their heads against my skull. So it was impressive to say the least. So to sum up, lager bad for me, I don’t like the Garret and I found a club that I like. It was an interesting weekend.