Looking through my blog post archive, there’s various guides and lists I’ve pulled together about pubs and bars from locations across the UK and beyond – but I realised I’ve never done one for the city I spend most of my time in! So, here’s a look at some of the best craft beer bars and pubs in Manchester city centre (in my own humble opinion).
A five city beer battle is the first event announced for this year’s Manchester Beer Week.
Manchester is full of pubs and bars but this doesn’t stop new ones from constantly opening their doors in the city. As a creature of habit, I generally find myself sticking to the same places as I know what I like.
But with a free day and an open mind, we decided to spend an afternoon visiting some of the new openings in Manchester to see if any of them are worth a return visit.
Happy days – Bundobust has finally arrived in Manchester. It’s always been one of my favourite places in Leeds and I’ve been excitedly waiting for its arrival on this side of the Pennines for the last few months. Continue reading
Trendy bar openings seem to be ten-a-penny these days in Manchester, however there’s generally less in the way of new arrivals focused on beer. The latest opening is The Brink, a micropub located in the heart of the city centre, that opened quietly and without too much of a fanfare earlier this month.
After a significant revamp, Marble’s Northern Quarter outpost 57 Thomas Street has now reopened so we had to pop down and visit. It’s no secret that I’m a big fan of Marble’s beers, but I’d always choose to walk down the road and head to The Marble Arch rather than that visit Thomas Street as I prefer the historic look and I’ve always felt the NQ site was just too cramped in terms of seating, so in my view a rejig of the venue was long overdue and something I was looking forward to checking it out.
Marble had said ‘early December’ was when Thomas Street was due to reopen, but as with most things which involve building work it can be hard to pin down a date so it was a rather low-key Twitter post on December 18 that announced the bar’s return.
We headed down the following day after visits to Torrside Brewery in New Mills then Beer Nouveau up near Piccadilly, so it was about 8.30pm when we’d got down there and as a result, it was busy. The venue is going to have two floors, but at the minute only the ground floor is open – there’s a door at the back which says ‘No entry…yet’.
The bar itself has stayed in the same place and is roughly the same length, but it looks longer as 57 Thomas Street is now keg-only so where there were previously casks on the bar, there’s now a lot more space and it makes getting served much easier! An extended section of the bar also serves as a small table.
As I mentioned at the start of this post, I’d always felt the venue previously seemed too cramped as a result of the layout of the seating, as you’d often have to disturb others to find yourself somewhere to sit. But that’s all changed now. Instead of large tables seating ten, there are now individual tables for four – with two freestanding seats for each and a long wooden bench running the entire length of the building next to the tables providing two (or more, depending on how busy the bar is) additional seats. You are still quite cosy with other drinkers but not in the same way you were so it feels a lot more private and roomy – a great design which makes the most of a long and thin space. At the back, there’s also a separate table which is ideal for groups. The only aspect of the design I didn’t like was the setup of the toilet. There’s only one (I assume there will be more upstairs) so it’s unisex and to queue for it, you’re in the way of the bar. I’m hoping that once the upstairs is finished there will be more as for a venue that busy on a Saturday evening, it wasn’t an ideal setup.
But more importantly than the look – what’s the beer like? As I mentioned, it’s all keg now with Marble’s own, of course, dominating. During our visit, on draught from Marble there was Antipodean, Boheme, Earl Grey IPA, Ginger, Lagonda and Valbryggda, a collaboration with All In, along with Magic Rock’s Common Grounds and Brewed With Friends (a collab with Kee’s). This was complemented by a fairly extensive bottle list, and a menu of bar snacks. We’ll definitely have to return at a quieter time to sample some grub.
Although it’s not completely finished yet, the refurb of 57 Thomas Street has been done very well and makes the most of the limited space. I always felt it didn’t have the greatest layout in the past and it’s now much improved. I’m looking forward to seeing what they do with the upper floor.
Marble Beer House, 57 Thomas Street, Northern Quarter.
After months of anticipation Café Beermoth, the café/bar owned by the team at Northern Quarter beer shop Beermoth, has opened its doors in Manchester. I popped down on the opening weekend to check it out and see what it’s all about.
Spring Gardens with its modern office buildings and the hell-on-earth that is the Post Office might not be your first thought of somewhere to go for decent beer, but Café Beermoth really is a game-changer. Despite some of the sterile buildings in the area, the site has been transformed into a very appealing looking venue. One note though – it can be a bit tricky to find. I think 40 Spring Gardens is the name of the entire building – the entrance to Café Beermoth is actually on the street behind (Brown Street) and is a few doors down from Fopp. You can also walk down Spring Gardens and turn right just after the Post Office to find it.
It’s quite a large space with a long bar running down one side and a number of booths next to the large glass windows. There’s also a couple of tables dotted around the middle of the bar, but they’re spaced out so it doesn’t feel cluttered. The booths in particular are lovely – we stayed a while longer than we had intended, particularly because it was just so comfortable.
But the other reason for our extended visit was the excellent range of beer.
There’s 17 beers on draft (cask and keg) at Café Beermoth with a good mix of options from the UK, Belgium and elsewhere, and a variety of styles on offer. This is complemented by a bottle list dominated by beers from the USA, Belgium and the UK.
During our visit, my highlight was definitely Buxton’s Stronge Extra Stout and it was also great to sample Mad Hatter’s Tzatziki Sour which was like nothing I’d had before. The draft beers are priced in various measures (check the board), but all beers can be served in 1/3s, 1/2s, 2/3s – whatever you want. Always something I appreciate.
But if beer’s not your thing, the venue is also very much about coffee – it’s not called ‘Café’ Beermoth for no reason. They open their doors at 8am during the week, aimed at providing caffeine to the workers in the nearby office blocks, before serving alcohol from 12noon.
I went down a few weeks ago to chat to one of the owners about the plans, and was told they were inspired by a bar in Brussels called Moeder Lambic Fontainas. This was actually somewhere we’d visited the previous weekend (see my Brussels post for more!) and I can see they have taken some cues from this venue but also put their own stamp on it. It’s a brilliant addition to Manchester with a well-thought out design and excellent beer list – and is definitely somewhere I can see becoming one of our regular haunts.
Café Beermoth, 40 Spring Gardens (entrance on Brown Street).