Jane Stuart – Writer

Writer on beer, football culture and Blackpool FC.

Manchester GBG Mission #8

Through following the adventures of fellow beer bloggers Martin and Simon, I have learned that the quest for completion of the Good Beer Guide is perpetual. I’m only targeting the Manchester pubs for this series but more seem to pop up all the time (well annually). I had hoped to complete the set in Mission #7 but you may recall that I ran out of time. This meant another mission was compulsory, so here I was again in Manchester tonight to complete my mission (until the publication of the next GBG at least). Of course I built a crawl around the sole remaining pub because, well, that’s what I do.

But first, food! If Paddington has taught me anything, it’s to have a good scoff before embarking on a pub crawl. I had planned to go to Parmogeddon tonight but I was on a bit of a tight schedule and, not only was it on the other side of town, according to GoogleMaps it was bang in the middle of a road. Whilst I realised that couldn’t possibly be right, it didn’t help me pinpoint exactly where it was and I feared getting lost so I chose to defer that for another time.

Suki Suki Street Food & Bar

I chose this Pan Asian place for tea because it always smells amazing when I walk past it. Paddington checked the menu online ahead of my visit and approved it. Huzzah!

I entered the foyer on the Deansgate entrance and there were some welcoming staff behind the counter. I asked for a table for one and was led through into the restaurant. I was given a choice of being seated inside or out and, as it was a scorchio day, I opted to sit outside, at the rear of the restaurant in Great Northern. And relax…

I was presented with a food and drinks menu. Ooh drinks! I hadn’t considered that (believe it or not).

While I was considering the options, I was presented with a complimentary bottle of tap water, with a glass with ice and a slice of lime. This was a lovely touch.

This Seven Bro7hers Honeycomb is a huge fave of mine at the moment. So honeycomby!

I needed no time to consider the food menu because I’d already decided what I was having.

Red Thai Curry and LOOK AT ALL THAT RICE!!!

The beer and the food and the service here were all excellent. I especially loved the little touches like this tin for the cutlery.

I would highly recommend this place and will certainly be returning for future scrannage. This could well be THE place to eat in Manchester for me. It’s certainly in the number one spot now (following the closure of Porky Pig).

Whilst I could happily have chilled here with another drink, I had a rendezvous which I was already in danger of being late for, so I skipped back round to the front of house, paid and promised to be back again soon.

Crown & Kettle

This was the last remaining GBG pub on my list and it was here that I had arranged to meet up with Pellicle magazine co-founder Matt Curtis. You may recall I wrote a piece for Pellicle on my fave pub in the world Strait & Narrow in Lincoln last year. It was Matt that took the photos to accompany said piece. Despite this collaboration, we hadn’t yet met, so we were putting that right tonight.

I recognised Matt far easier than I recognised the interior of the Crown & Kettle. What a transformation since my last visit, which I think was when I was in Manchester to see the Coronation Street musical ‘Street of Dreams’ in 2012 (I bet you wish I was blogging then). What was once a traditional boozer inside and out is now a much more modern (and seemingly smaller) bar.

I went for the Play Brew Co Orange & Mango Popsicle Fruity Sour and the Brew York Juice Forsyth. It was scorchio and not a night for dark beers. Both were yummy and refreshing.

The bar was busy (and hot) when we entered so we took shelter from both elements in a side room in the shade. We chatted about writing and football and cricket and beer and writers and deadlines and the respective books that we are writing and all the while I was thinking how Matt looked much younger than in his photos. It’s obviously a beer writer thing as I said the same to Chris Dyson when I met him. Speaking of Chris, his latest blog on the traditional pubs of Manchester is a great read and features a stunning photo of the Briton’s Protection. And here’s a link to Matt’s beery books to date, with another coming soon.

It wasn’t long after I mentioned that I was going to be blogging about this evening that Matt mentioned he had somewhere else to be so we said our goodbyes and I headed off to the one place I’m never not going to visit when I’m in the Northern Quarter.

Fierce Bar Manchester

I love love love Fierce Beer! What I particularly love about them is that their beer does exactly what it says on the can. If it says chilli and lime you’ll get the freshness of the lime and then WHOOOOOSH a fiery burst of chilli. So many beers from so many breweries promise so much and I end up disappointed that they taste of, well, beer or alcohol which, as you know, is not what I look for in a beer. Some have questioned whether I even like beer. But I’m the same with teas. Give me a Ginger Chai over a Yorkshire Tea any day of the week.

I opted for the Limoncello Sour tonight because it was exactly the weather for fruity beer. And of course it was delicious as Fierce beers always are.

Whilst drinking, I got chatting to a couple of chaps who had been abandoned by their wives in favour of some gig across town. I recommended the gig I was off to if they wanted some good music to while away their evening. Speaking of which, I’d better get myself down there…

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David Ford & Abe Partridge @ Castle Hotel

This was a new venue for me tonight – the sister of Gullivers, where I have previously been to watch David Ford (my favourite songsmith) in Mission #3 and Mission #7. I was pleased to see this was another real ale venue and considered the pump clips on arrival.

Obvs I’ve never going to not choose the Plum Porter in this situation. Armed with pint in hand, I went to check out the facilities (no review, soz) before heading into the room where the gig was taking place.

Dear reader, the room was tiny and so, so hot! I was so hot with my pint of porter that I knew I would not be able to stand for the duration of the gig without blacking out. I made my way to the front and took a seat on the floor, where I remained for the duration of Abe Partridge’s set. Abe is from Alabama and I was not previously aware of his work. He was a storyteller and I enjoyed the stories he told through his songs and his chats in between.

In between sets, I decided the Plum Porter probably wasn’t helping matters so I returned to the bar to see if there was anything I could drink with ice in it. Obvs a sugar free pop would have been the sensible option here but Paddington wasn’t with me tonight so I started eyeing up the beers.

Did I mention this is a Robbies pub? Anyway it is and I fancied this Ginger Tom over ice but my enquiries revealed it’s a dark ginger so that wouldn’t have worked, so I turned to this instead.

In its defence, it did cool me down sufficiently to be able to stand for David’s set. Now at the same level as other people (well, still a foot shorter than the average person, but near enough), I got chatting to a couple of fellow Ford fans, Dave and Andy. This is Dave’s review of tonight’s gig because you know I’m not one for writing about these things in such detail.

David Ford was his usual magnificently talented self and I would recommend his gigs and music to anyone. I’ve been watching him live since 2002, when his band, Easyworld, supported The Bluetones at the Wulfrun in Wolverhampton – and I fell in love with their music instantly.

Sadly I had to leave the gig early in order to catch a sensible train home (I never wait for the last one, just in case…). Safely aboard the Blackpool North train from Piccadilly, I called up tonight’s Corrie on ITV Player and watched it all the way home. This is always a good test of how much I’ve had to drink, whether or not I remember what happened in Corrie the following morning. I seem to remember Claire Sweeney rocking up but she’s not been seen since, so now I’m beginning to wonder…

You were fab, as always, Manchester – and I’ll be back to continue this series when the new edition of the GBG comes out. Meanwhile I head out on adventure closer to home in my next blog…

Next Up: Hotpotting in Blackpool.