A fairly perfect Manchester weekender included a gig, a City win over Stokelona, Manc sunshine, some new architectural discoveries and a few new pub ticks in St Helens.
That all paled into nothing, compared with a chance to meet a top pub blogger in one of Manchester’s finest pubs. I’d ticked Cask some years back, but on reflection it was Mrs RM who drank nearly all the half of Phoenix (22 seconds, fact fans) while I was child-minding outside the pub.
Simon Everitt is the legend who, on his journey to all the Beer Guide pubs, has managed to capture the great and rubbish of pubs better than anyone*. A shared hatred of Adnams glassware, minutes silences, Sat-Nav, samples and Meet the Brewer may have coloured my view somewhat. I don’t yet know Simon’s views on Prosecco.
They say you should never meet your heroes, particularly ones who use yellow highlighter pens, but Simon** was tolerant of my gibbering. We compared notes on the Squawk (NBSS 4), remarkably good for first out the pumps at midday, and forgot to discuss the possibility of a sharing a ride on Air Force One to the Anchor, Anchor.
Cask is a lovely little corner pub in which to talk incoherent pubby rubbish about Horwich locals, with a small and well chosen range of drinks and proper seating. Although close to Deansgate, the Beetham and Castlefield, it doesn’t get the hype of the newer pubs; a bit like the way the Knott is overlooked. Those Squawk beers are pretty impressive too.
The gig was at Band on the Wall, where Yank-turned-Manc BC Camplight brought his witty but melodic recent LP to life. Hopefully he won’t be deported a third time. I didn’t last the whole 90 minutes, a week on my feet and the St Helens stagger catching up with me.
Band on the Wall, like many Manchester venues, takes it’s beer seriously, and I saw more young gig-goers drinking the cask (Wainwright and Green Mill) than I’ve seen in many pubs lately. If it wasn’t next to the Smithfield, Bar Fringe and the Crown & Kettle it would be an appealing little bar in its own right.
I stayed at Deansgate Locks, and got my first real look at HOME, which is architecturally decent and probably an appropriate place to commemorate the great Tony Wilson’s contribution to the city’s never-ending change. The rather older buildings around Oxford Road station looked more stunning in the Saturday sun though.
I finally stumbled on Albert’s Schloss on Peter Street, a newish place that Jeff Bell raved about on his brief stay in the city. It was shut (an odd 11.30 opening) but looked the business.
*except Pub Curmudgeon
** Simon was insistent on not being photographed as his image can never be seen, and was also very keen I didn’t talk about his foot injury.