Visiting some of Manchester’s new openings

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.

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57 Thomas Street – Manchester

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.

Marble Beers - 57 Thomas Street

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’.

Marble Beers - 57 Thomas Street

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.

Marble Beers - 57 Thomas Street

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.

Marble Beers - 57 Thomas Street

I apologise for this fairly awful picture – it was very busy!

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.

Marble Beers - 57 Thomas Street 57 Thomas Street - bar snacks menu

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.

Café Beermoth – Manchester

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.

Cafe Beermoth, Manchester

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.

Cafe Beermoth, Manchester

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.

Cafe Beermoth, Manchester

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.

Cafe Beermoth, Manchester

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.

Cafe Beermoth, Manchester

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).

Brewdog Manchester

I like to blog about new and interesting places I’ve been to share them to others but I think I sometimes forget the more well-known locations and regular haunts.  Brewdog Manchester falls into both of those categories but as it’s undergone a little rebranding (and a Liverpool bar is being launched this week), it’s probably worth a post.

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I have to say, I was quite late in joining the Brewdog bandwagon. They’re obviously notorious for their attention-grabbing publicity stunts and super strength beers and you do have to tip your hat to their marketing team, but the hype didn’t really appeal to me. But as I’ve become more interested in craft beer, I found myself appreciating what they do a lot more and it looks like I’m not the only one – apparently 1 in every 2,200 beers drunk in the UK is made by Brewdog these days.

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Brewdog Manchester, which opened in 2012, is a well-designed, modern bar. With an industrial theme throughout, it has plenty of seating (including some couches upstairs and a large outdoors area at the front), a large bar, and boards clearly marking what they’ve got on, how much it is and how it’s best served (1/2 , 2/3 etc). There’s also little touches throughout which make it more welcoming – staff recommendations on the walls, wide range of board games and items such as deodorant, hairspray and sanitary products provided for free in the ladies toilets.

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Since our visit to Copenhagen, I have a renewed interest in Brewdog as they stock bottles from Mikkeller. Not only can you drink them there, but you can also take them away with you (I think you get 20 – 30 per cent off). A huge plus point for me! There’s a Peter, Pale and Mary in my fridge as I write this.

Our most recent visit was for one main purpose – India Pale Weizen. I love Weihenstephan and pretty much all things wheat beer so I was very excited to try it. And it was exactly as described – a perfect mix of an IPA and a wheat beer. Definitely recommended from me! Brewdog do aim to push the boundaries and create unique products, and the India Pale Weizen fits well with their ethos.

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So if you’ve not been, do listen to the hype and pop in. Ask the bar staff for their recommendations and explore beers from across their range and beyond (especially Mikkeller!!)

The Baum – Rochdale

As someone who is not originally from Manchester I can’t say I know a lot about every area of the region but some places so have a reputation that precedes them. Rochdale is one of those places I’ve heard a few bit about albeit mostly negative.

On Saturday we had to make a trip there so I could see for myself and also visit somewhere we’ve been recommended – The Baum.

First impressions are very good – it’s on a cute road which is a conservation area and looks very welcoming.

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And the inside looks just as good as the exterior.

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But most importantly it has a good selection of beer. As well as six cask pumps, there was one real cider and a good choice of bottles (there’s a list of the bottles available on their website) and all at decent prices.

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We started with five samplers to share which were:

1. Phoenix Red Devils – a very easy to drink ale with a nice after taste 7/10

2. Marstons Charge – a slightly disappointing and watery drink. This is the latest beer from Elbow and not as good as Build A Rocket Boys 3/10

3. Tring Brewery Tea Kettle Stout – a lovely coffee taste and not too heavy 7/10

4. Pictish Brewing Company Amphora – light and easy to drink with hints of lemon 7/10

5. Portobello American Pale Ale – very hoppy and moreish 8/10

We then had some food (which was very good and great value for money) and I went for the Portobello Star, an amber ale which was enjoyable – 7/10

Meanwhile Ross went for one of the bottled beers – Delirium Nocturnum. I was admiring the glass it came in and the barman said they have the glass to go with each bottled beer they sell which is a nice touch (nothing worse than getting presented with a lovely Weissbier in a regular pint glass!).

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We were also joined by Ross’ sister and dad (who was the one who recommended it to us) who also sampled some of the ales.

Overall a great little pub. It’s cosy, excellent choice of ales with a decent amount of local breweries represented and good food.

We have to pop to Rochdale again tomorrow and hopefully will have time to nip in to the Baum again while we’re there!

The Crown and Kettle

Took a trip to what I would say is my second favourite pub in Manchester for their weekly quiz – the Crown and Kettle.

Just slightly outside the Northern Quarter it has most of the elements you want a pub to have – historic interior, guest ales, lovely pies and a roaring fire.

The excellent Pubs of Manchester has a good history of the pub.

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I started off with a pint of Kamikaze from Dent Brewery in Cumbria which is not one I’ve heard of before. The beer had some nice citrus flavours and was very easy to drink. 7/10.

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Beer and pork pie. Winning combination (and the pies are free if you enter the quiz! )

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Terrible photo as my phone is awful but I then moved on to Black Moss Stout by Riverhead Brewery, which is based in Marsden near Huddersfield.

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A lovely colour and a really nice, coffee after-taste. Definitely worth sampling. 8/10.

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Another good experience at one of Manchester’s best pubs. Will have to go back before the guest ales are changed – they’ve also got Meme by Boggart Brewery and another Dent beer on at the moment which I’d like to try.