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The Best Pubs in Manchester

OK, it's my view but when my friend Laura asked me if I could recommend any pubs for a visit she was planning to Manchester with boyfriend Dale I said, "No problem, tell you what I'll put it in a blog!" So here goes....

When it comes to Manchester I have form. I've lived there, studied there and worked there and so have been in the city a few times for a pint....

The Marble Arch
If you only have time to visit one pub in Manchester it has to be the one at 73 Rochdale Road, aka the Marble Arch, just up the road from the new Co-op building. This is a classic street corner city pub, with a superb tiled interior, a sloping floor that follows the line of Gould Street which leads off the corner on which it stands, and of course the fantastic Marble beers, which until recently were brewed on site. The food, whilst- like the beer - is not the cheapest, is top-notch too, and when the weather is good the beer garden at the back is a marvellous sun trap.

Marble Arch interior, Manchester

Just down the road is the Angel, which used to be on a quiet back street until the Co-op expanded their 'campus' and it is now slap on the main road. Here the beers are unfailingly good - often featuring White Lion or Chardonnayle from Bob's Brewing in Ossett - cheaper than the Marble - and the food here is also highly-regarded, with an upstairs dining room to boot. Friendly and welcoming.

Turn left from the Angel, then after a slight kink to the right, head straight across on to Swan Street. The Smithfield on the right, which has just been done out, is a little bit hit and miss, but a bit further down is the Bar Fringe. Very individual, it tends to have beers on that you don't see everywhere else, and if Continental beers are to your taste, this is the place to come. Quirky but friendly.

Turn left, and straight ahead is the Crown and Kettle. OK, a beer guide regular, but like the Smithfield, a bit hit and miss. The better option is to turn right opposite the Crown and Kettle and head down Oldham Street. A few hundred yards down on the left is the Castle. This is a classic city centre pub with a narrow frontage which goes back forever with a myriad of rooms, and since an expensive refurb by owners Robinsons, a great choice of beers from the likes of Titanic as well as from Robbies themselves. As I often stay at the nearby Travelodge, it is great to know this place stays open till 1 am. Has been known to be frequented by the lads from Elbow.

Head down Oldham Street, by all means call at Dry Bar which is a bit of a music venue, beer variable, but pleasant enough. If you then head left on Hilton Street you will shortly arrive in Stevenson Square. On the right, on the corner with Spear Street, is Soup Kitchen, a former deli now re-invented as a bar and music venue, but still serving great value wholesome food - not just soup and sandwiches - on refectory style long tables. A good place to re-fuel.

Head back into Stevenson Square and carry on down, then turn left at the Crown and Anchor and turn up Port Street. Here lies the Port Street Beer House. This is the place that set its stall out from the start with beers from the US and around the world, craft beers and full-on generally hop-forward beers from the pick of UK brewers. It also in my view introduced the bearded, American pioneer look, almost de rigeur these days, to Manchester. Not cheap, but interesting, although lacks the warmth of a lot of the pubs in the city.

Close by are some decent bars where you can't guarantee real ale, but worth a visit for the atmosphere. These include the recently-opened Hold Fast, diagonally opposite the Crown and Anchor, and Kosmonaut on Tariff Street.

From here, it all gets a bit more spread out. Head down to Piccadilly Station, across the road is the Bulls Head, which is a pretty acceptable traditional city pub, and on Richmond Street, on the fringes of the Village is the Molly House. Another quirky pub with good beer and food and a lovely mural with a Mediterranean vista.

Across the other side of the city around Albert Square there are some other great pubs. The Waterhouse is by a country mile the best Wetherspoons in the city, with unusually a veritable rabbit warren of rooms. Round the back is the City Arms, a little pub that's big on the welcome. A traditional pub with 4 or 5 hand pumps serving great beer, it is like stepping back in time. A great mural runs across one of the walls in the tiny lounge.

The City Arms
Close by, on Peter Street, is the Brewdog Bar. No real ale, but good craft ales from the iconoclastic Aberdeenshire brewery. Good atmosphere and worth a visit.

Whilst over this side of the city there are the traditional Briton's Protection and Peveril of the Peak, old-style Manchester boozers which hark back to my student days in the '70's but still worth a visit.

There are others: The Knott, the Cask, the Wharf - all around the Castlefields area. And back in the Northern Quarter there is Hydes' spanking new pub and boutique hotel, the Abel Hayward. Even within the confines of the Arndale Centre there is the Micro Bar, owned by Boggart Brewery from Newton Heath which offers a respite for those ground down by the shopping.

That's the thing about Manchester. The scene is constantly changing and with the size of the place it is impossible to visit everywhere in one visit. But in my view the places mentioned are all worth a visit. Enjoy....


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