Richard Coldwell contemplates the title of City of Beer in his excellent blog.  It’s a timeless debate that provides easy copy for lazy journalists who are happy to confuse the number of breweries or handpumps with beer quality or pub character.

At the CAMRA Revitalisation meeting in July the one moment of friction came when a chap passionately (if too loudly) denounced the Beer Guide for the lack of pubs in central Manchester. He has a point.

Looking at my NBSS scores for central Manchester suggests to me beer quality is as high here as anywhere, and a large number of pubs that aren’t in this year’s Guide were just as good on my visit. The two near my hotel (Mitre) are as lively as ever, even if Sinclairs will need to bring back cask before I squeeze through the plastic glass-carrying hordes again.


There’s (only) two new Guide entries within the ring road this year, and both well-merited on beer quality.

Simon gave his unique take on the Pie & Ale House yesterday. He’s a pub purist, and didn’t warm to what is basically a quirky canteen with beer.  Stylistically and geographically it’s close to the Soup Kitchen, but with pies.

QUIZ TIME – what is wrong ?

Despite not actually finding the main bar until after I’d ordered the house beer from Charles & Wells (NBSS 3) from a side room, and it breaking nearly every rule of good pub interiors, I can’t be quite as harsh as Simon.  But then I doubt Simon views a jukebox playing Judas Priest’sLiving after Midnight with quite as much affection as I did.  And at least it was selling a decent amount of interesting beer, though not to me.

Walking between pubs covers some of the best street art anywhere. This is urban walking at its very best, always revealing new features of the city. Somehow I resisted the lures of BeerMoth and the City Arms (a welcome re-entry in the GBG) on the way to the Sir Ralph Abercromby.

So that’s where it is

Despite walking these streets many times, I’d never been in the Ralph before. Its appearance in the Guide coincides with the threat of demolition by a minor ex-footballer from Stretford.  There ought to be laws against this sort of thing. Perhaps.

As with the nearby Rising Sun, it’s an unspectacular pub which nevertheless captures what is great about many central Manchester pubs; unpretentious, good beer (7 Brothers NBSS 3.5),  folk of all ages sitting on proper pub furniture having fun. Not much to ask.

Most folk anyway

Tradition dictates that I find at least one new Manchester pub on each visit, on this occasion Brink , which some people would no doubt label a micropub, as it’s small.  Too small to get a seat on Friday night, but a really good atmosphere and superb Porter from Squawk (NBSS 4).  The panorama of Manchester on the wall is gorgeous.

My favourite feature from the old Manchester pub guides was the section on Indian cafes.  That normally means This’n’That, but my new curry café of choice is the Marhaba on Back Piccadilly. Pumpkin Beef with rice for less than a fiver in the most “characterful” street in town.

Makes This’n’That look like Jamie’s


  1. May I submit ‘everything’ as my quiz answer? The glass, what should be the cellar is in the bar, the standard of wood in the table appears to class as shite. I don’t see the point of the insect in the logo, rays of sunshine are as inappropriate as can be. I could go on.

    Thank you very much for the curry cafe recommendation, I shall try that for consumption on a train to Sheffield at some point. Where abouts on Back Piccadilly is it? Also, how long do orders take to appear? I’m just working out if it will work on the way back from Liverpool on Saturday.

    For scientific research purposes, I shall also try This ‘n’ That at some point if it is geographically convenient. Where is it?


    1. It’s about 2 minutes from Piccadilly station, in an alley parallel to the road called Piccadilly itself.

      To my knowledge no-one has ever found This’n’That using directions. I recommend you look aimlessly for 20 minutes near the odd “High Street”.

      Orders are either instantaneous (if ordering from the tureen),or 10 minutes otherwise. Veg food is particularly good, but nothing like your normal Indian restaurant.


      1. Thank you very much Martin. Presumably if I head down Ducie St, as if going to the Jolly Angler, aka Ray’s, the alley will be on the left.

        How many points does my quiz answer score? Clearly it is correct.


      2. Why? It clearly worked for Aston Villa when they got a penalty decision overturned at the Circle in the last minute of the game on the midweek night following Boxing Day 2008. The Sky cameras definitely weren’t used so that must be how it happened. I just wish I hadn’t brought myself to think of that infamous Boxing Day 2008.


      3. There was a lot went against us that season, most of which fits into the category of typical City. It all started to go wrong with convicted criminal Marlon King and his team splitting antics. You’re right, we should have won the league and FA Cup double. We’ll never get another chance like it. Greatest calendar I’ll ever see following Hull City in my time on this earth that was.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. What is wrong? No effing beermats, that’s what.

    Can’t comment on the Abercromby personally from recent experience, but I do wonder whether it’s received a bit of a sympathy vote.

    I wouldn’t have minded Living After Midnight playing on the jukebox, but it wouldn’t be my first choice from that genre.


    1. I had a lot of beer spilled over my hands by barmaids in London today, but that’s because they try to pass a mug to me through a sea of TOO MANY HANDPUMPS rather than placing it down on the mat. See, I can do Mr Angry.

      Breaking the Law is better, and I’m no fan, but it was comforting to hear something other than True Faith or Wonderwall on a Manc jukebox.


  3. Wow, you get around. Manchester, then London; I smell a train. The Sir Ralph looks like a good pub, and with a beer you rate as a 3.5. We may also have to stop at the Pie and Ale(a 4!). I think I will pass on the This ‘n’ That, that is one creepy looking location.


  4. I suspect that like all CAMRA branch areas there is a quota of how many pubs can go in GBG for each area. Hence there are no increases and if one better pub comes to the forth then another must drop out. I am really interested in getting down to the nuts and bolts of how many, why and who decided this and what is the process for continual up dating? If anyone can enlighten me then please do so – RM has included a link to my blog, for which I am most grateful. Feel free to comment.

    I fully accept that there has got to be some criteria, but like all things in life, circumstances change. Once upon a time Britannia ruled the waves. Although I am unconvinced whether anyone should actually be ruling the waves, this is now no longer the case. As in world politics, the GBG should change to reflect the changing beer scene and there should be a lot more pubs from the cities in The Great North included in GBG these days.


    1. You’re right; population and tourist volumes largely inform allocations, though I haven’t researched the detail.

      There’s no adjustment for beer quality, and I don’t see how there could. Londoners seem to like their warm dishwater, and you can’t apply a subjective factor to allocations.

      London, particularly North London to Watford, seems to have a paltry number of Guide pubs this year anyway.


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