Not Tired of Life, Just Tired of Manchester (pubs)

I’ve never liked crowds; or being honest, people in general, the thronging masses of homo sapiens and their need to get wherever they are going and quickly as they can and fuck everyone else. Or the opposite of this, who toddle along or stop and chat on stairs or outside doors and are a general nuisance to everyone trying to get somewhere. Misanthropy can make you view things in extremes but all I see it common sense not being that common.

When I stopped working in Manchester I stopped having to commute through Manchester and I stopped having to go to pubs there to console my time wasted as another train or bus home was late, delayed or cancelled.

I started working and therefore drinking, in earnest, in Manchester some 15 years ago, not long in the scheme of things but a lot has changed in those years and I suspect a lot of people who communicate about beer probably weren’t old enough to drink back then either. For a point of reference it was a time before Port Street Beer House existed, then during, when it opened and became excellent and then further down the line, when it went on to become arrogant and shit.

During the past few weeks I’ve drunk in many towns and cities on extended holidays, especially in London, a place I have also seen change over the past decade or so I’ve made regular trips down there for drinks and the purposes of entertainment and relaxation (get your mind out of the gutter).

I note how the first stop is the Euston Tap and they just seem to be coasting along, resting on their laurels and the captive audience they have but at least that place was deserving of a pedestal at one time, unlike its Manchester Piccadilly counterpart which has always been a hollow shell.

I entertained finally going to the Bermondsey beer mile, if only to indulge my love of Kernel Brewery beers but they don’t open apart from to sell bottles and seeing as very few of the micro (call them craft if you so wish) London breweries are actually much cop (Weird Beard being one rare exception), it wouldn’t be worth my time or money. Full marks to Kernel for not being a slave to trends which now seems to have convinced people that drinking in industrial units under heavy neon lights surrounded by a bit of art is tip-top entertainment. I like Fox’s Biscuits and Heinz Beans but you wouldn’t see me clamouring to get to the a taste of those wares in the factories at Batley and Kitt Green, far better to consume them at home, in the warmth, away from notice-me-wankers (and probably Greg(g) Wallace).

London as a whole has changed, always a heaving metropolis, the description that opens this piece fits it best, though I’ve always respected the seeming fact that London centre pubs are treated as iconic and as necessary furnishments to the economy, something that Manchester, in its clamour to look exactly like London spectacularly loves to ignore and destroy. The personal epiphany though was that all the pubs in London I went in to were havens from the gaggling hordes, something I can’t say for Manchester.

That my opening gambit in every pub and bar I went into was “do you still take cash?” and only once was the answer a “no” still heartens me.

I thought it was just city drinking I was dulled to however not only tolerating but actually enjoying recent trips to Leeds, York, Edinburgh and Sheffield and a whole host of small towns coupled with the London excursion showed that maybe its a case that familiarity breeds contempt and it is well possible because every time I’ve been back to Manchester it has just been a bit meh.

I speak for me, this is my “Rekall moment,” and not to slight the pubs, old and new that are there or the drinks that are on offer.  I am fully aware I’m the factor here.

This piece seems to be acting as a nice intro into another small bit I’m working on called “My Love of Holt’s Pubs” which will be published, when I can be bothered.

 

I’m Linus van Pelt and pubs, except for those in the centre of Manchester are my security blanket.

 

Thanks for reading.

 

Oh, of note in London pubs.  Cask beer was significantly improve over recent years (I don’t take my own thermometer though).  Sam Smith’s pubs vary in whether they bother in enforcing their “no mobiles” rule or not.

Salford City Red Summer BeerFest 2013

Is this a new addition to the Beer Festival calendar? I don’t know, I only found out about it on the Thursday (6th) before I went along on the Friday (7th).  Either way it was a 67 bus and a 5 minute walk to the ground on a baking hot day.

£5 for a drinking time of 6pm – 10pm got you your half pint glass, a programme and a free half first pint of any Robinsons beer.  I chose the Iron Maiden Trooper  (4.7%) – I thought better of starting with an Old Tom’s (8.5%) as many a night have I thought “just a half” of that brew will be OK, only to then occasion falling asleep in various locations – the good, smiley kind of sleep, not the passed out unconscious and unwakeable in a doorway surrounded by puke sleep.

The guide was cleverly constructed with each beer numbered and the barrels were laid out numerically, save for wasting time looking up and down for the brew of choice.  The guide is actually not in numeric order, 1st page of beers was 1-10, then it lept to 31-40, don’t know if this was a trick to keep punters wits about them, but it all worked successfully in the end.

The food is your usual match day fodder crap – in that weather a BBQ wouldn’t go amiss, so nothing was consumed other than beer (pies were precured afterwards).

The facilities were the ground’s toilets, which were next to an eerily uninhabited ‘wine bar’.

In fact, let me be honest. There were more staff there than customers and that number difference grew even more when security turned up.

Whether this poor turn out (I say poor as everything is relative) was due to the hot weather, the location, the possible under advertising or just that the Saturday (and Sunday) will be the bigger day, I don’t know.

It has the set up and capacity to be a very good fesitval. Good premises, large selection of beers (60 + 3 that weren’t in the guide) and ciders (and the aforementioned wine bar).

Staff, who while not being rushed off their feet were helpful and attentive and it had a good token/price system.

Beers seemed to be from £1.20 to £1.50 based on %abv and tokens (cards of 10p, 20p and £1) could be bought in £5 packs. Its a sensible way of doing things – I even think the cards had a heat induced rugby ball on them as some kind of security.

My beer reviews will follow, but for the event itself, I hope it succeeds and can be an annual event.

Thanks to all staff and everyone involved in making it an entertaining night.

Oh, please put a ‘push’ and ‘pull’ on the doors.