The Lass O’Gowrie

The Lass O’Gowrie is located just off Oxford Road next to the crumbling and mostly flat remains of the BBC, I think that the pub has been struggling since the alcohol hungry and generally nice people of the BBC have moved to the desolate wasteland of Media City. In fact inside over the bar there is a letter telling you so and that also Greene King are money grabbing bastards who are essentially putting the pub out of business with their ridiculous beer costs.

On Charles Street off Oxford Road

On Charles Street off Oxford Road

Now I’ve been in the Lass O’Gowrie a few times and I always think it’s OK if not good but there’s something missing. The place looks great if not cluttered with accumulated tat from a few decades of video games and films. It kind of makes it feel like my Mum and Dad’s loft with a load of crap you just can’t throw away because you know, it might be worth something someday. When I first went in I liked it but as I go more I like it less, like a joke that gets less funny with every telling. It does have a snug though which I always like in a pub. I think it’s supposed to be retro.

The pub has a few vintage arcade games propped up just behind a wall and a couple of old game tables. They are pretty cool if you can get on them but they’re set away from the rest of the tables meaning that you pretty much have to go on them alone or you have to drag whoever you’re with away from the table (long suffering girlfriend). So they’re kind of there and you want to use them but it means leaving the conversation, the table and company to go over to them in the hope some fat guy isn’t stood in front of them.

The layout of the pub is a bit jumbled as well. There are two big booths at the top end of the pub and a great little smoking area for those that smoke. There’s also the snug which is also nice and cosy (snug if you will). Those are all well and good. The problem arrives when you come into the main area next to the bar and just along from it. It’s cluttered and the tables get in the way of the main part of the bar if there’s a queue. The smaller tables are in the way and get pushed together so you can’t quite get round them or even sit comfortably. At some point I remember they had long benches there, that was better. Sharing is better than trying to sit on uncomfortable stools back to back with other people.

Anyway, they have good beer at the Old Lass. The standard is Betty’s Best apparently in honour of the cleaner, which I quite like.

Betty inn ale her Glory. (Get it?)

Betty inn ale her Glory. (Get it?)

It’s only £2 a pint for students as well! Yay! It’s brewed by the Outstanding Brewery. It’s a nice light, hoppy beer and very drinkable. They have a few guest ales as well but I can’t remember what they were they’re usually pretty good though.The Lass O’ Gowrie is a great pub with loads of character and despite my gripes I do genuinely like it. I go in all the time because it’s cosy if you get the right seats. It really just needs a major re-ordering, the beers great and the staff are friendly. It’s a true quirky manc pub and needs our business.

I feel like I’ve been harsh in this review but I have written it like my teachers wrote my reports at the end of the year. ‘Must try harder.’ My teachers liked me, they liked my work but my effort was low. Now I understand completely. The Lass ‘O’ Gowrie must try harder.

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Sheffield’s Dark and Twisted Mistress

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I arrived at four o’clock in Sheffield train station and was met by my good friend and drinking buddy Dave. Dave is at University in Sheffield and had been promising me a night out there for some time but up until this point I somehow not managed to get there. Little did I know how many good proper ale pubs were awaiting me. I had introduced Dave too ale a few years back after he complained he couldn’t drink very much larger. I think  Copper Dragon was the first beer and he hasn’t looked back since.

On arrival I was given two options “We can go straight back to the house then head out. Or we can pub crawl back there.” I went whole heartedly for the second option. We started with the pub in the station. The Sheffield Tap.

Sheffield Tap

They had a wide range of beers on but I chose a weaker beer called Curious by the Magic Rock Brewery.

Curious

I knew I was settling into my drinking trousers and this could turn out to be quite a session. What people don’t seem to realise is that pacing is the trick when it comes to beers, stronger beers are great but if you know you’re in for a long one you may as well give yourself a chance drink weaker ones first and then move to stronger ones later when you’re acclimatised to the alcohol. The beer was great from what I remember but to be honest I made no notes. I will do better in future I promise. The selection in the pub was good though with plenty of options for the ale drinker. With The Tap getting busier we decided to move on to stop number two. One thing i have to say against Sheffield is there is nothing around the station worthy of note. The next pub was further up the hill and we passed nothing of interest apart from the fancy fountains surrounding the station.

The Rutland Arms was our next port of call.

rutland arms

It was tiny inside and they seemed to have gone haywire on the fairy lights but again it seemed to be popular, though it was clearly geared towards students but there were loads of older people in there, it was a bit weird. The beer however I do remember was Blue Bee’s Nectar Pale.Nectar Pale

As you can see it was one of Sheffield’s own brews and it was quite refreshing with a slight honey taste, not too overwhelming or sickly, which is always good when you get slightly nectary beers. It was time to move on to The Red Deer.

RED DEER

It was freezing outside and going into the extremely busy Red Deer was a shock to the system. Even though it was packed there was barely a wait at the bar. Though we did have to stand up which I think lessens a beers affect. I have to say I went for the least exotic option which was Copper Dragon.(See The English Lounge for review)

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They had other beers on but i’m not sure what they were. We were forced over to the far side of the bar by the sheer volume of people but we were stood by where the used glasses were stacking up which frankly was a little off putting. I’d like to go back when it was quieter because i have a feeling it was a real cosy pub, if we had found seats we probably would have stayed longer. With regret we stepped out into the cold.

Following a food stop of little significance we found ourselves in The University Arms of which we were the only people there, at all. We literally had the place to ourselves which was a little strange to say the least after the Red Deer. I hope the University Arms has more drinkers in the week otherwise they won’t be there for much longer.

uni arms sheff

I had a pint of Bradfield Brewery’s, Yorkshire Farmer. It was a decent pint and I wish all University pubs had beer this good. It was another light one but I didn’t fancy the other Christmas themed beers on offer as they usually give me gut rot.

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There really isn’t that much more to say about the University Arms apart from it needs some customers on a Saturday night. A few people came in and left which always annoys me. People have to commit then more people will come other wise no-one would go in anywhere, think about it, you know it’s true.

The Hallamshire House was our final stop.

hallamshire

It’s a Thornbridge pub but it was so busy by this point we had to sit outside in the smoking area. The booze had kicked in by then though so it was all good. It says on the tasting notes it has hints of bitter lemon. I’ll take their word for it.

wildswan

I had a Wild Swan which was quite hoppy (I think) I promise I’ll take better notes next time, honest. I liked it anyway. We decided to have a second before heading back.

Dave then went to the bar so I could save our seats because even the smoking area was getting busy. I asked for Jaipur, but they’d run out. Let me tell you this, if you see Jaipur in a pub. Buy it, it always runs out. It’s because it is so good. Very strong but the flavours are intense and fruity. Anyway I had a supplement which was Kipling. Nice strong flavours and a little darker than my previous choices and quite fruity but a little understated.

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After that we headed home to drink another day. We returned to the Hallamshire House the next evening. I had a Brother Rabbit which was excellent and a seriously good find. again it was fruity but not over powering making it refreshing and quick to go down.

On our return to the bar the barman heard Dave and I talking about which beers to go for and recommended a strong dark beer made from the best hops available. My interest was peaked and I asked for a half. The beer was a staggering £4.80 a half but it was totally worth it. It was like drinking port by the half.

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If you can’t see the ABV it’s 10% and I felt every percent. It tasted like treacle and it took me a good hour to drink it. It tasted like it had been roasted with a slightly nutty aftertaste, it was epic but definitely not for everyone. One weird effect was it made my ears very warm.

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I finished with another Kipling. The next day I sweated the Bracier out, it was really weird stuff and my insides haven’t felt the same since. I was seriously pickled. The thickness was something special but even though I hadn’t really had that much to drink the stickiness of the beer has stuck with me for days.

The English Lounge

english lounge

I’ve somehow never been in the English Lounge before, I will definitely be going back. The place was heaving even for a friday but the background music was quiet so people could do what they want to do in a pub and talk. They had a bar full of beers and ales. There was plenty of seating and while it they clearly focus on food, people who were only drinking were well looked after. Even though the place was packed the atmosphere was good and friendly even though everyone was crammed in. The barstaff were efficient and friendly even though the bar was packed both my pints had the perfect amount of head instead of the as I like to call it ‘Panic Pump’ when the pint is not allowed to rest before being topped up resulting in there being too much head on the beer. To be clear THAT DID NOT HAPPEN HERE.

From memory, on the hand-pumps they had;

Sharp’s, Doombar – A great rich beer. Native to Cornwall.

Recognise your handpumps!

Recognise your handpumps!

Golden Dragon’s, Golden Pippin – A pale ale very light and an easy drinker, definitely in my top 5 favorite beers. I had two pints. If you are new to ale I think Copper Dragon is a good beer to start with as it is quite light, refreshing and easy to drink.

copper dragon golden

Timothy Taylor’s, Golden Best – Great Pennine beer, very rich, tasted to me slightly like caramel. I would have had one had I not had to move on.

timothy taylors golden

Marston’s, Pedigree – Standard bitter, I haven’t had any for a while after a few dodgy pints of it. A good beer if it’s done well.

marstons pedigree

There had been another pump, however they had run out so we can assume it was good. All in all I would rate the English Lounge(http://www.englishlounge.co.uk/about-us.) You should go! I don’t know how I had missed it for so long.

Barn Dancing and Farmer’s Ale

Well, I was very hungover on Saturday. I had been taken by my girlfriend’s(and long term drinking partner’s) family to what can only be described as a barn dance in Edale in the High Peak.

Now this is not my usual drinking venue but the promise of scenes reminiscent of ‘The Wickerman’ (original) were very appealing. I was already half cut when we arrived having been to many pubs and enjoyed some excellent barrel race ale. The real jewel in the crown was the ‘Farmers’ ale which was on sale for £2.50 a bottle in the venue. ‘The well dressed band’ were playing live music and the attendees were encouraged to get up and dance a few simple steps with the directions of the host. This proved to be highly amusing and much better than I had anticipated especially after a few pints. It was tiring though and I returned to my seat for more beer, it was an entertaining to watch.

I had a few more ales before making my return to the floor at which point the pace had increased to the point of no return and my girlfriend and I found ourselves Unable to keep up with the complex steps. Her grandparents were still going though and we all ended the night thoroughly exhausted but triumphantly dancing gangham style to some traditional Kayleigh music. It was all a blur after that.

The Cocktail Bar

I found myself in an very fancy cocktail bar last weekend, through no fault of my own I have to say because it was a friends birthday. I like cocktails but the places in which they are served are usually some of the worst places to actually socialise. The Magic bar in the Printworks was the best cocktail bar I’ve ever been to, it was a travesty it was closed. Shame on you Printworks!

The bar Corridor off Chapel street in Manchester is tucked into an alley. As I arrived one of those older guys who wear leather jackets and think it makes them look twenty years younger was stood smoking in the doorway, now don’t get me wrong that’s just an observation about a specific kind of leather jacket wearing older man, not all of them. Anyway he was smoking in front of the door, so I walked up and said in a polite way ‘Is this is way in?’, his response back was ‘Not tonight mate’. I was already not really wanting to go out for reasons that I can’t remember, it might have been drinking. I hate having to choke comebacks away so the grimace as I went past him was probably revealing. I hadn’t yet had my quota of intoxicants to find this funny. I really wanted to say ‘I didn’t know there was a comedian on tonight’ but that probably wouldn’t have gone down well. These things always put me in a bad mood, there is a serious gap between wit and what these people peddle.

Saturday nights really attract dicks and I do tend to avoid going out if I can, they just get too overcrowded. Busy bars are one thing but overcrowded are another but as I said it was someones birthday so i went out hoping it would be OK. I need to stop complaining I’m setting the wrong tone, drinking is pleasurable (honest). At least it was happy hour, but I didn’t know that so I avoided the expensive cocktails and bought a Peroni (bottle) for £3.50 that’s nearly £1 per 100ml of beer, we need bigger bottles people! I then proceeded to shout at my friends over the music which was well past eleven on the volume scale. Music is great and the venue was great but it was just drowning out the conversation. No-ones dancing guys, there isn’t room to dance, we’re talking, its a cardinal bar sin, mark my words it will lead to the death of conversation and everyone will just text each other from home. All my fellow drinkers agreed we just wanted to chat and ended up leaving hoarse, though I did have an excellent tequila cocktail called a dusk till dawn only £4 in the happy hours instead of £7.50 the happy hour is Classic & Twisted cocktails for £4 served all night Monday & Tuesday, 5pm to 8pm Wednesday to Friday and 7pm to 10pm on a Saturday and Sunday. Yay. I really liked Corridor and will be going back for more excellent cocktails.

In the end though there was no plan and we couldn’t be bothered with the twat festival that is Manchester on a Saturday night so we ended up where everyone else seemed to have ended up which was a Wetherspoons, I’m putting it out there right now, I think Wetherspoons are great. There was music but it was elsewhere the booze is cheap and if you’re an ale drinker (I am) it’s great quality. The only problem with them is everyone else seems to have worked out the same thing and the place was packed at least 3 people deep all the way along and it’s a massive bar probably the biggest in Manchester. I had a few pints of the standard abbot ale, not my favorite but drinkable and something I could see at the bar though the huge fat women stood in front of me drinking WKDs. i think it’s fair to say it isn’t a classy venue but everyone is friendly. All in all, night recovered.