Manchester has more beery attractions than the annual Winter Ales Festival. Being a fairly large city there are a number of decent drinking locations, though the highest density of pubs warranting Good Beer Guide Entries falls in Chorlton-cum-Hardy. Luckily for me our hotel was but a mile's stroll away (but if you're in the city centre its easy enough to get a tram).
Emerging from the hotel at around 11:30 it was time for a late breakfast/early lunch and what better a bastion of Englishness than pie, mash and mushy peas. Or is that pi? Pi is the name of the Chorlton pub we first find ourselves in on the stroll down from Old Trafford. It feels like a Belgian beer cafe inside, with various brewery plaques and beeraphinalia on the walls.
But we were hungry so it was time for pie...and mash....and peas. These are not just any pies, they're the Pie Minster pies that I love so much. Two veggie, two meaty. We split the veggie ones between us. Creamy wild mushroom and asparagus and my personal favourite the Heidi...goats cheese and sweet potato. The mashed potato was perfectly seasoned and the mushypeas just right. Simple food, done well.
Now what to have with them?There's a hefty beer list of bottled stuff, 5 keg taps and four handpumps, with a cider or perry on. That it would be a beer is a no brainer and I chose to go with Red Willow's Directionless, a perfect partner to the cheese in the pie. There were another couple of local blondes on the handpumps and Broad Oak Perry for those that are orchard minded.
After that filling dinner a stroll was required (though not too far mind) down to the high street. (I'm aware we passed the Marble Beer House, but having been to the Marble Arch the previous night we decided to save it for another time.) Our next destination was Electrik Bar where we opted for cocktails from their lengthy menu. I went for a Bramble...a gin and chambord creation whereas the lady picked a prosecco, peach schnapps and peach bitters creation. Very nice they were too.
Inside its a bit loungey, with some arty bits on the walls. A decent enough food menu would have provided sustenance had we not just stufffed our face with pie. There are plenty of beers to pick from too and I can't resist a half of Hawkshead's new Oatmeal stout before we head on again. It won best bar of the year last year and they recommend we go to check out the Parlour, winner of best pub in the same competition. (We do and its packed; so don't bother staying).
Our next destination is down a back road and is a brew pub, the Horse & Jockey. But when we get there no sign of said brewery or even any of their beers is apparent. I have a quick half of Quantum Bitter then push on to pub number 4, named simply The Bar. For those who know Manchester, this is the sister venue of the Knott in Deansgate and as such the bottled beer list is the same. More Red Willow on cask to my delight and then a bottle of urthel saisonerre to share before heading to our final drinking spot just across the tramline.
They say good things come in threes. Marble currently has three pubs in Manchester, but quirkier still is the aptly named odd trio...Odd, Odder and Oddest. Decked out like someone's living room, complete with dangling lampshades and assorted chairs these bars could feel pretentious but are actually rather homely. This one is the local CAMRA branch's pub of the year too.
There are beers on handpull and mulled cider but the shooters look more interesting. We opt for a baby Guinness, the classic khalua and baileys combination and another whose identity I forget...
The pub gets busy in the evenings apparently and tonight seems no exception. Handily placed for the tram station its not long before we're headed back to the hotel.
So next time you go to Manchester, don't just prop up the bar in the Port Street Beer House or Font and instead venture out into the suburbs. You may just find some good beer.