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A City That Thinks Tables Are For Dancing On… — June 28, 2016

A City That Thinks Tables Are For Dancing On…

…is a popular quote in Manchester. I had to ask to find out why and it turns out that the quote is attributed to DJ Mark Ratcliffe. More about the relevance to the quote later.

Recently I found myself in Manchester for a week due to a mixture of business and pleasure. If you want to find out about what I was doing for work, you can read the live blog that I wrote.

The pleasure side of things was (obviously) about beer. Arriving on a hot Monday and getting the work part out of the way, I needed a pint. A quick ask on Twitter and some recommendations were offered which, I was about to explore before I realise how close to the local Brewdog I was. In search of another to tick off the list I was making a beeline for the punks palace until I got waylaid by a familiar bronze tank in the doorway of a bar. I had stumbled upon the (somewhat famous) Alberts Schloss who were serving day old tank fresh Pilsner Urquell. Perfect for the hot weather I was soon onto my third pint of the easy drinking, smooth and floral Pilsner. 

Eventually making it to Brewdog (tick) I was happily sampling the latest incarnation of their west coast IPA, Black Hammer. Hop forward, piney and with a hint of roast, just the way a BIPA should be. Monday night was pretty good.

Tuesday and Wednesday were filled with work, although I did squeeze in another trip to Alberts and then a quick visit to the smooth, clinical lined No 1 Watson Street. The latter being fairly new to the Manchester craft bar scene and also offering ‘craft pizza’.

Thursday saw an evening visit to the Buxton Taphouse, a place that I have very much been planning a revisit to for a long time to enjoy a number of beers that I’ve been wanting to try for a while. The Taphouse being just on the outskirts of the tiny town and idilic in all sorts of ways. If I lived in Buxton, this would undoubtedly be my local.  

Following a Twitter exchange and a train back to Manchester I found myself drinking in the Beer Nouveau brewery with the ever passionate owner Steve sampling all sorts of heritage and ‘from the wood’ beers. Needless to say I staggered back to my apartment after.

Onto Friday and the ‘other’ reason why I have having a staycation in Manchester. The Manchester Beer Week was organised by good friend of mine Connor Murphy and featured all sorts of beery events across the city and suburbs of Manchester. The event was to have an official lunch party but before that we had the small matter of a tour around Heineken’s Manchester brewery. Hold your thoughts there. This was actually a special moment as Heineken don’t do this. They don’t show people around the brewery, they don’t do public tours but that had agreed to offer some tours as part of the MBW. “Don’t touch anything” we were told “an no photos”. I can barely describe the scale of what we saw. As the single point of production in the UK for our beloved Fosters, this place was MASSIVE. “If you drank 10 pints a day for the next 400 years you still wouldn’t empty this FV” we were told, stood underneath one of 17 of them. The thought of that much Louis above our heads was yes, a little daunting to say the least. Finishing the tor with the immense canning line, we were given goody bags (Fosters glasses and Bulmers – which the students in the next bar were wry happy to accept) we left, got caught in the first of many deluges of the weekend and continued our beer adventures.
Heading to the Marble Arch for the official launch party, the skies continuing with the odd shower (apparently not uncommon round these parts), spirits were high. The Marble Arch is a beautiful ‘traditional’ pub. Selling mostly marble beers, tonight the taps were adorned some of Manchester’s best, including two beers that had been produced for the MBW, J.W. Lees & Cloudwater collab, MCR Fold, a traditional bitter with a modern twist, and Manchester Brewing Co’s ‘Ten Boroughs’ a light, lemony citrus Pale Ale. More beers were had in Cafe Beermoth after including the amazing ‘Cloudberry Ice Cream IPA’ from Buxton & Omnipollo and the ridiculously drinkable ‘I’m Spartacus’ IPA from Torrside.

Hitting the beers hard on launch night might not have been the best idea considering that Connor had arranged a Brewers market for the Saturday and we needed to be back in Manchester by 7am. After helping to set up the market I took the chance to work my first shift behind the bar, with the effervescent character Becks and even despite the rain I enjoyed chatting to customers and serving their beer, making some recommendation along the way (obviously). Adorned in ‘team kit’ proudly wearing the t-shirt with the famous Mark Radcliffe quote. This helped to shift a few more shirts as by all accounts, Mr Radcliffe is somewhat of a local legend. I’ve a new found respect for market traders, it was a long, hard, wet day and when we finally arrived at Track Brewery for their joint party with Squawk Brewing at 10pm it was all we could do to finish our pints. 

My trip to Manchester concluded on the Sunday with a quick visit to the new Beer Merchants warehouse/tap room before a peaceful journey home.

It was my first time spending time in Manchester, exploring the city and cultures the each quarter offers. Connor did an amazing job of organising Manchester Beer Week, you can read more thoughts by Beers Manchester here.