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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

Only a Couple for me…

I apologise for my recent absence, I really do. I don’t quite know what happened over the New Year I was going to write a happy new year blog but in the end it was a fairly calm night with only a few nice ales (Bank’s Bitter from the bottle 99p in aldi, Everard’s Tiger and Timothy Taylor’s Landlord from the pub) plus some Jagerbombs which were very nice but not exactly blog worthy in my opinion. Though I did venture up to Derbyshire to ring in the new year so that was quite nice. bull's head tintwistle

The Bull’s Head in Tintwistle is my friend Dan’s local and has to be one of the oldest pubs I regularly go in. They even gave us free pie just before midnight, the Landlord was very friendly and the pub was great. All in all pleasant but not that exciting.

A week later I met Dave of Sheffield fame in the Bull’s Head in Manchester from my previous post (https://drinkingaloud.wordpress.com/2013/01/01/a-drink-in-the-afternoon/) at about 3pm for ‘a couple of pints’. Let me say this now, if someone says only for a few pints it never happens, never. We had a pint of Sunbeam and a catch up talking of all things drinking. IMAG0200

We moved on to fresh territory after that because the Bull’s Head is great but we’ve all been there and a session in there depletes the beer tokens very quickly. We all know how much I like it in there so I’ll skip ahead to uncharted territory.

The next stop was the Waldorf which is just up the road past the train station opposite Piccadilly station approach. I don’t go in very often but I’m not sure why not. The beer is good and the Bar staff are friendly. I think one of the problems is that it has little or no atmosphere if it isn’t busy.

the waldorf

They had plenty of hand-pumps serving Acorn and Timothy Taylor beers. Yay. I had Acorn’s Blonde because I don’t think I’ve had it before and it looked the lightest on the bar. It was very nice had a bit thin texture. It tasted great though and went down quickly and was only around £3 if memory serves me correctly, which it might not be as I’ve had a fair few drinks since as well.

Acorn Blonde

This was round the time Billy arrived. The slow accumulation of people through the day is always a bad/good sign for what is supposed to be only a couple of pints. It was dead in the Waldorf but I think it gets busier later on. We decided to ditch and to move on again because we were getting hungry. Cheap is the name of the game when you’re building up to what looks to be a session. So we headed to Wetherspoons.

I think a few people may have clicked off to another page because, for some reason, they don’t like Wetherspoons. I have to say I think it’s great, the beer is cheap and there’s a wide range. I think it gets a lot of bad press because it’s cheap and there are admittedly a few dodgy ones however, you can’t argue with the beer. They train their landlords well and the beer is always excellent also the selection is always good.they were all the same I know it’s a franchise and lord help us if  You could probably argue with the food if you wanted to but not for the price. I’m with ‘spoons all the way. So anyway I had a pint of Buckeye by Roosters Brewery. I have to admit that from here on in my picture taking failed me partly because of busy bars plus the battery on my phone was low and the flash wouldn’t work. I hate my phone.

buckeye

As you can see on the picture it describes itself as a session beer and I think I was blinded sided. I’ve never had Roosters before but I’m won over, it was very good and they were right about it being a session beer. It’s pale, tastes light, it’s not too strong and it was only £2 which is one of the cheapest pints in Manchester. I wish I could have had more with my burger but alas back to the grind and the ever lengthening pub trail.

It was at this point I mentioned in passing The Gaslamp pub in comparison to The Temple because they are subterranean tiled and quite cosy in winter time. Dave had never been and if there’s something we can’t have it’s a lack of adventurous spirit so to the Gaslamp we headed.

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The Gaslamp is just a doorway on Bridge Street which is easily overlooked. It opened around 2010 and for a while I put off going in because frankly descending into a tiled bar with no windows. I braved it eventually though and it was worth it. The Gaslamp is in the kitchens of an old childrens street mission and apart from  the Temple located in some ex-public toilets has to be one of the strangest places to have a drink. There are pictures of the children on one of the walls.

45395_the_gaslamp

I’ve saved you a thousand words.

There’s another room about the same size as well so it’s much bigger than you might think from the door. The staff are always great. There are a range of bottles behind the bar and 2 real ale pumps, though be warned none of these are cheap. Dave payed over £4 for a pint of Brooklyn beer which he liked very much. I’m more of a fan of Brooklyn when it’s bottled, in a pint it’s a bit to stodgy somehow and it tastes more like a dark larger to me so a good compromise if there are no lagers you fancy.

brooklyn

I had a pint of Beginners Luck by the Blackjack Brewery who I’ve just googled because I’ve seen a few of their beers recently but before that I’ve never seen anything of them.

Apparently they are a new Manchester Micro- Brewery based in the Northern Quarter. Here’s their website (http://www.blackjackbeersltd.co.uk/home) however there won’t be any pictures because they haven’t put any up and I didn’t take one, more fool me. The hand-pump looks like a playing card and says blackjack brewery on it so it’s hard to miss. It was nice though deceptively heavy for its colour but I liked it very much, enough to try another one of their beers a few days later. The Gaslamp is expensive though, it was £3.50 a pint but I think it’s another pub where you pay for your surroundings. I like it in there but my wallet doesn’t. The only other beer on was very strong as well so it seemed like a good time to go to a pub I’ve been meaning to take people for a while. It’s a bit further out of the city centre and into Salford further up Chapel Street. It’s not quite far enough into Salford to be on the part marked ‘here be monsters’ but it’s far enough out that you don’t get the scenester hipster guys pretending to like ale because it makes the skinny jeans look a little less feminine.

I don't know who that man is...

I don’t know who that man is…

The New Oxford was a regular haunt for me when I was at university because it had lots of real ale, bottled beers and a beer bible. If you like beer you’ll love it, they have lots of European beers, have a look at the bar.

NewOxford bar

There’s a bar on the other side as well with more beers and a few ciders as well. The pumps you can see in the foreground are fruit beers, ciders and some really nice lagers. Veltins is my favourite lager and it’s started to be in more pubs, it’s really nice. I had though  a Leeds Best from the Leeds Brewery for the average cost of a pint of ale in the New Oxford £2.90.

leeds best

It was a nice light beer nothing special but OK none the less a standard drinker. I preferred the beers I’d had earlier. I drank that fairly quickly as I’d sunk deeper into my drinking state. I felt like a change from the regular ales so I had a half pint of Fruli Strawberry beer.

You get the right glasses as well when you order beer, it’s a nice touch. 150.05-Fruli-Strawberry-Beer

It’s not as sweet as you think it’s going to be but you couldn’t have a pint of it. It’s quite refreshing and a nice break from hoppy beer. It’s worth trying though it’s around £3 a half, I think it’s worth it though you’d pay far more for it in the Northern Quarter or further into Manchester. The guys at the New Oxford know how to keep it as well which can’t be promised by the indie bars. Try some anyway.

I then had another Acorn beer called Strisslespalt IPA.IMAG0209

I’m not even going to pretend I remember drinking this there’s only this picture mysteriously in my phone and that’s definitely the New Oxford’s Bar so I can only assume I drank it but I have no idea what it was like. I’m going to go with it was nice or I would have remembered it. Dave had wheat beer which really doesn’t agree with me, I like the taste but the after effects aren’t worth it. There really is a mine of great stuff to try in there and it’s not to expensive for what you get either.

While I’m trying to remember it I’ll tell you a bit more about the New Oxford. I think it’s fair to say that it’s mainly an older crown who drink in there but they’re always friendly and hospitable. The bar has two sides there is a larger room with tables and chairs at the back  whereas when you walk in it’s much narrower with a few high stools and cushioned wall seats. If that looks full head round to the other side of the bar there’s always room somewhere. I still can’t remember the beer so I’m going to move on. We were at a point where we were debating where to go next. I suggested the Salford Arms which is just down the road and under new management so there are new beers to try where before there was only lager. Dave’s mate had joined us in the mean time and they were planning to head to a club, possibly 5th avenue later on. It was agreed then we would head further into town to The Temple at the top of Oxford Road.

temple

The Temple is tiny, only has lagers on tap but you will not find a better drinking hole on Oxford road. It’s size gives it an intimacy and you can make friends on the next tables easily. We stood at the bar for a while waiting for a space to open up but it’s not usually long before you can sit down. The second we sat down the lady next to me told me there were 4 free songs left on the jukebox from her turn. The jukebox is really good but the music isn’t too loud. I had a bottle of Coniston Bluebird.

coniston bluebird

It has a proper bitter taste but it goes down very easily. at £3.40 it isn’t cheap but space is a premium in there. It’s good to start on but if you’ve been on a sweeter beer it can be quite jarring to move on to. The atmosphere in the place is always friendly and everyone I’ve taken in there has loved it. I have to say though the toilets are pretty rough. You can get Tuborg on tap if you don’t fancy a bottle which I think Billy had. I try not to mix lager and ales though because it gives me a horrendous hangover. Dave had more wheat beer in the shape of bottled Bluemoon, again, I like wheat beer but it doesn’t like me and mixing at this stage in the game is never good.

bluemoon

I’m not sure if we had one or two in there. We left after that they headed down Oxford road going to Footage. it’s along way from my flat and they only have lager, plus my wallet was empty so I decided against it. It later turned out they didn’t make it gave up and got on the bus. Billy had to get off later though because he was dry heaving and if there’s a moral to this story it’s don’t mix your drinks.

I got home at around 1am having started drinking at 3pm this is the kind of thing that happens when you go out for only ‘a couple of pints.’