The ‘Ale’ of Man 2 – a return to the Isle of Man’s pubs

Earlier this year we took a trip over to the Isle of Man and the chance for another visit came up so we went over again to scope out some more pubs and try some more beers.

Last time we flew (it’s about 30 minutes from Manchester Airport – pretty much up and down) but this time we went for the boat from Liverpool.This took about three and a half hours and although it takes longer, it’s much less stressful then flying partially because of no security checks or baggage rules but also because it has a bar on board which is open from the minute you get on.

Being a captive audience, the prices aren’t great but there was definitely a novelty in having a beer on a board. On draught there was the option of Guinness, Carling (or Carlsberg, some generic lager) and Okell’s Bitter which is what we went for. Downsides – it comes in a plastic cup and it was an annoyingly-priced £3.99 but it was relaxing to sit there drinking with no hassle.

As it was late on our arrival (and I’d been at work all day) it was straight to bed ready for the next day.

 

Last time we visited the Isle of Man it was winter so all of the electric trams were shut down which made travelling around the island a bit of a pain. But being the height of summer (although not always summer weather!) everyone was open.

So we hopped on the horse-drawn tram down Douglas Promenade to the Manx Electric railway station for a tram to Laxey where we changed for the Snaefell Mountain Railway. Snaefell is the island’s largest mountain and apparently on a clear day you can see ‘seven kingdoms’. However, as it was cloudy, rainy and ridiculously blustery when we arrived at the top it was straight into the cafe/bar/restaurant for a pint of Okell’s Bitter. It was creamy and well poured but we had asked for halves and ended up with pints, so as a result we had to leave some while we rushed for the tram back down.

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But there’s something enjoyable about having a beer on top of a mountain!

Once we got back down to Douglas, we decided to go for a journey on the steam train up to Port Erin. There was a 45 minute wait for the next train so we headed into the nearest pub to the station which was, unsurprisingly, called The Railway.

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It was a halves of MPA (Manx Pale Ale – which I first met at Manchester Beer and Cider Festival earlier this year) for both of us. The pub itself looks like it’s been recently done up and had an industrial theme which reminded me of Brewdog in Manchester. I was also told by relatives that the Railway used to be in the building next door but had relocated. Either way, an enjoyable place to wait for a train right on the quayside.

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On arrival at Port Erin, it was about half an hour until the return train so we headed for the nearest pub again which also had a train themed name – The Station.

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More Okell’s was on offer here so we both had a half of the IPA before heading off to get the train back to Douglas. The Station was an OK pub but I felt it was just missing some charm and character.

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After dinner we went to tour a few of Douglas’ pubs and we started at The Bridge. Located on the quayside, this is a modern pub which appears to have been recently refurbished and attracted quite a young, boisterous crowd. This meant it wasn’t really my thing and seemed like it would be where groups of lads on a night out would start their evening. As for the beer…as well as Okell’s selections on draught, it also had a few bottles including a wheat beer – Mac Lir.

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This was without a doubt one of the most disappointing beers I’ve ever had. I couldn’t taste the wheat and it just tasted a bit bland. I didn’t even finish it, I disliked it that much. Maybe it was a bad batch but as a big wheat beer fan, I couldn’t enjoy it at all.

After this we moved on to The British down the quayside. This was also quite modern and lively, but I enjoyed this bar a lot more than the Bridge. It has a nice look and comfortable seating with a good atmosphere. And of course, more Okell’s. I went for the Saison while Ross had the Premium Steam Bitter.

Following one in here, we popped down the road to the Saddle Inn which is where we spent the majority of the evening.

Being a fan of traditional pubs, I loved this place. We were made to feel welcome straight away (the barmaid said a group of lads who had been a bit worse for wear had been in and she was very happy that they were gone and really nice to us) and I guess we were trusted as she waived the £5 deposit for the pool cues.

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The pub itself isn’t massive – it has a main room with the bar and then a smaller room off to the side where we camped out for a few hours. Great jukebox with a wide choice of tracks so there was something for everyone. The jukebox was also much louder in the smaller room compared with the main one, so the old gents enjoying a few bitters weren’t blasted with some of our selections (I know not everyone enjoys Rollin’ by Limp Bizkit as much as we do!).

The beer choices weren’t great – there was only Okell’s Bitter and Guinness but because the pub itself had a great atmosphere we stuck around for quite a while, moving to the main room when a group of lads came in to play pool (they were asked for the £5 deposit for the pool cues!).

On our way to the taxi office, we nipped into Brendan O’Donnells – an Irish pub on the main shopping street. We’d visited here earlier this year and enjoyed it because the Guinness was excellent so had to nip in again. It was very lively and quite busy – unfortunately they’d ran out of half pint glasses so my Guinness came in a plastic cup which was a bit disappointing. This is a pub with two main rooms, one of which has the bar, as well as a smaller one at the front looking onto the street which is where we grabbed a table. In the second room there was a karaoke on so it was quite fun to have a little sing along (we seemed to know more of the words than the people with the lyrics on the screen in front of them) and the Guinness was spot on again, so worth a second trip and a good way to end the evening.

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Sunday was a more relaxed day and we went for lunch in a little place called Niarbyl, about 30 minutes outside Douglas on the coast. While we ate I had the Manx Cider. I’m not a big cider drinker and generally only like fairly sweet incarnations, but although I’d gone for the sweet it just wasn’t my thing.

And that was the last drink of the holiday as unfortunately the sea while we were on the boat back to Liverpool was ridiculous choppy and as I spent the whole time trying not to be sick beer was the last thing on my mind!

So our second beery trip over to the Isle of Man was just enjoyable as our first. It may only be a small island but there are plenty of little pubs to visit so I’m sure we’ll find different places to visit next time!

 

 

 

 

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