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.

 

Advertisements

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.

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.

A Drink in the Afternoon

Drinking in the afternoon is a skill, learned by experienced and mastered by time and commitment to the cause. It was with this in mind that I left work and met my good friend Billy who I’ve been drinking with for years and we headed to the Bulls Head next to Manchester Piccadilly station.

bulls head

We arrived around two o’clock and the place was heaving. I suppose I should have expected it the last Friday before Christmas.The plan was to have a few beers then sit tight for the free buffet that gets put out on the bar at around five pm. We placed ourselves at the bar and Billy was served immediately with a pint of Sunbeam.

I suffer from a rare disorder known to my friends as ‘Invisible Man Syndrome’ which means I often cannot be seen by barstaff, it used to happen a lot but it flares up occasionally resulting in me standing at the bar and whoever I’m with being served, but I don’t. Billy’s pint was already starting to go down when the barmaid said in a surprised voice “Oh sorry I didn’t see you there!”. Which frankly I used to find annoying but now it’s quite funny. It’s a bit odd though. Anyway I ordered a pint of Sunbeam brewed by Marstons.IMAG0200

It was the best beer of the day. It’s a nice fresh hoppy beer. A good balance between bitter and sweet which is good. According to the tasting notes it has citrus overtones. I did not get that at all. At 4.2% as well it’s not the weakest beer but it was the closest so we went for it.

The Bull is a deceptively big pub it’s just one room but the use of space allows for loads of people to be in there and it to still feel OK. There were obviously a few office Christmas dinners in and the food looked great. We were very hungry. There is a slightly raised area at the back of the pub with a real stove in it which warms the whole place and gives it a nice feel.

We managed to get seats on a high table out of the way. There was definitely a few big groups in but as they left more people came it giving the place a nice transient feel as people left for their trains. I’ve missed a few trains in there. More people came in and it was definitely getting busy.

Second beer was Cumberland from Jennings. I did want Boondoggle but they were changing the barrel. IMAG0202

Cumberland was much too bitter after the sweeter Sunbeam. I think talking about palates is a bit poncy but it was truly a bit of a clash. I would say Cumberland is very close to bitter and after this experience I would say you should start on it and you could stay on it all day.

Pace is the trick with these afternoons. You have to pick the right strength of beer and stick with it so I probably would normally have stuck with Cumberland as it struck me as a good session beer. If you peak too soon you end up slumped in the corner while your friends have a good time around you. You also get a ‘pre’-hangover which is when the headache gets you in the evening instead of the morning. To avoid this simply carry on drinking.

I thought I would be thorough though so I moved on to Boondoggle by Ringwood.

IMAG0201

A great beer very light and an easy drinker. Sweeter than it is bitter, it made for a nice change after the Cumberland. It’s definitely easier to go to a lighter beer from a bitter. I had no trouble being served at the bar this time. The staff are usually friendly in there and the lack of TVs makes conversation easier. I don’t like TVs in pubs, I used to think it was great but more recently I’ve found that people don’t actually converse (which I thought was the whole point of going out) they just stare at the screen which is usually on mute and have no idea what’s actually going on.

I think people drink more as well when they’re not talking to people, so possibly it’s all a big plot… Probably not though. On this afternoon there was definitely an older audience but I don’t know whether that’s just because of the time, the day or even the pub itself. I hope it isn’t the pub, it’s not an old man pub.

IMAG0203

In my quest to test everything on the bar I moved on to the porter. I hoped this might slow my drinking as Porter is usually thick enough to fill you up and I was having a good run with the Ringwood Brewery and the porter did not disappoint it was really smooth and went down far too quickly. It was getting close to the deadline for food and we were hungry.

The other beers hey had on were EPA by Marstons which is a bit watery, definitely not worth a look in. Billy had it and was disappointed. I already knew to avoid it it’s one of those beers that’s a little more satisfying when it’s out of the bottle and has a little bit of fizz.

the Porter was rich but with a very smooth texture which made it quite easy to drink but I tried to pace myself a little more. Some Porters are difficult to get through and a bit too heavy but this one wasn’t, I’ll be having it again. I think the problem with Porters is that they don’t really fit in with drinking lots as they don’t mix with other beers so they are best for just one drink maybe two of the same thing.

It took a little longer to get through these beers as we mused the afternoon away talking about the friendly bar staff. The man who I think is the Landlord is also a nice guy, to avoid any trouble on match days he locks the doors but if you peer in and look hopeful like I have on a few occasions he’ll let you in the side door. What a nice man.

The other beer they had on was Hobgoblin which is a good standard ruby beer but I didn’t fancy it that day after the Porter. It was after we had finished our drinks that it was getting to 5 o’clock and hopefully the bar snacks which I’ve had before and are excellent. The Bulls head is not the cheapest pub and our wallets were starting to feel particularly light. Every pint we had was around £3.20 and that is my major gripe about the Bulls Head it is quite expensive but I suppose they can be because of their location. At least they beat the pub in the station who charge around £4 a pint and don’t have ales, so fuck those guys.

We had now been sat without drinks for 20 minutes and with our wallets and stomachs empty we decided the food was not going to arrive soon enough. We freed up our table and left getting a cheap takeaway and some more beer on the way home. All in all it was a good day, I really wanted the free food though, really wanted it. I’ll be back.