Urmston has a thriving pub and bar scene with many new arrivals over recent years as well as some classic pubs. Many are fine cask ale establishments and this has led to the development of the Urmston Ale Trail, for beer enthusiasts to enjoy.
It is a simple enough idea; pick up a collectors card in your first pub and work your way around the 10 participating pubs (this does not have to be in one day!). Enjoy a pint of real ale in each, get a unique stamp from each bar and receive a free pint once your Urmston Ale Trail card is complete.
The trail loops you around Urmston and Flixton, taking in pubs and bars on the outskirts of the town as well as the town centre and includes varying styles of pubs and bars.
Pi (Altrincham) has a new manager. Zoe West (pictured with former manager Chris Bardsley) took the helm at the bar on Shaw Road in April, having originally joined the team from West Didsbury’s Saison in 2017. She brings a wealth of experience in Good Beer Guide listed pubs including Chorlton’s The Bar (now The Chorlton Tap) and The Macc in Macclesfield.
The vacancy at Pi arose when former manager Chris(Bardsley)departed to open a new bottle and keg shop in the town’s Kings Court with his business partner Will Brown. Batch Bottle Store opened at the end of May with six keg lines and one cask line. The cask line will mostly be Pomona Island Pale – a constantly evolving brew with different hops in each batch. Bottles and cans will predominantly be UK based to start off but once settled in they will be bringing in beers from rest of the world. The store will also be hosting Tap Takeovers, Meet The Brewer and Tasting Sessions. Opening times are Sunday to Thursday, noon until 9.00 pm; Friday and Saturday, noon until midnight
Also in Altrincham, Rustic has a new owner. American Summer Smith is new to real ale but getting stuck right in. It is likely that Bradfield Brewery’s Farmers Blonde will become a regular beer, with three changing beers.
Selected cask ales will be two for £5 Tuesday to Thursday. Opening hours have been extended slightly with an earlier opening at noon on Saturdays.
The Tatton Arms on the southern outskirts of Altrincham also has a new licensee, Mags Wiaczek, who reopened the pub on the 18th May. She is new to the pub business but has plans to make the pub more family friendly than it has been in some of its past incarnations.
Mags has given the interior a redecoration and tried to keep the traditional look and feel to the pub returning old photographs of Altrincham to the walls.
There is a dart board and pool table, and some of the TVs have been removed. Food will be available lunch times, with bar snacks in the evening. The menu will have a Polish twist featuring Polish sausage, Sauerkraut with a traditional Polish dinner with apple pie being served at weekend.
Three hand pumps are installed and beers from JW Lees should be available by the time Beer Buzz goes to press.
Retrospective planning permission was granted for Altrincham’s Old Market Tavern to convert rooms above the pub into letting rooms. However, planners refused permission for the owners to also convert the parts of the building which were previously used as band practice rooms and a martial arts gym and required samples of all materials to be submitted to the authorities.
Just before Beer Buzz went to press, management of the pub passed to Kev Winkley, who has long connections with the pub. Kev told Beer Buzz he has plans to expand the cask ale range to six or seven regular ales.
Alex Dunne who bought The Elk, Hale in November last year, has given it a makeover. The interior and exterior have been redecorated, and a new bar and back bar installed. This gave them the opportunity to add an extra hand pump, and they now aim to have three ales available.
When Beer Buzz visited, Marston’s 61 Deep was the current regular beer with the two guests being Marston’s Wainwright and Robinsons Dizzy Blonde. The two guest pumps are rotated for other local and national beers from time to time.
NEW BAR OPEN IN THE CITY
One of Manchester’s newest incarnations is that of Mash Tun, housed in the block which comprises 55 King Street. It’s at the far end of Pall Mall on the corner with Chapel Walks, taking over the former Grafene restaurant site (the bar being a joint venture with the owners of Grafene).
On the menu are up to eight revolving real ales from micros and other established regionals (although when Beer Buzz called only three were available), plus ciders, perries and a further 16 taps for keg ales and lagers. There are no pump clips shown; all the beers are indicated on a chalkboard above the bar. The bar is to the left of the entrance with the brewing vessels (not yet in operation) towards the rear.
Spacious areas give rise to wooden and tiled flooring, tables and chairs, plus some leather seating areas. A curious booth style raised into a mini-board room, with table and several chairs and differing window pane panels are to be found around the rear, where the room overlooks Chapel Walks. Food is also available, plus live music nights are a feature, with soft piped music playing at other times.
As reported in the last issue of Beer Buzz, the former Burton Arms on Swan Street has completed it’s transformation into The Rose & Monkey Hotel. The pub now offers a full line up of live music featuring both original artists and cover bands.
IS PLASTIC FANTASTIC?
The Knott on Deansgate, Manchester has become the latest bar in the city to go cashless. The bar which acts as tap room to Wander Beyond Brewery moved to only accepting card payments from 1st May.
The pub’s manager Simon Carroll blamed the move on rising banking charges for depositing cash and obtaining change. The statement pictured above was posted in the pub’s windows said they would rather not pass these costs on to customers in the form of increased beer prices. The proportion of cash sales made by pubs and bars across the city with many reporting that over three quarters of purchases are now made by card – at The Knott this had risen to 82% when they made the decision.
West Didsbury’s Wine & Wallop is another bar which has decided to only accept debit and credit card payments – with security being a factor in their decision. They join a growing number of bars across the city which now no longer accept cash including Cloudwater’s Unit 9, Track Brewery Tap Room, ÖL Nano Brewery & Bar on Oxford Road and Sandbar on Grosvenor Street.
The team behind GRUB food fairs and Fairfield Social Club have teamed up with Squawk Brewery to open a new cinema and tap room in Ancoats. Located on the fourth floor of Crusader Mill on Chapeltown Street, the Chapeltown Picture House is immediately above the Track Brewery Tap Room.
The cinema space has a 4k projector and 5.1 sound system while the connected Squawk tap room will have six lines from the highly regarded brewing team based about a mile away. When not screening classic films like Terminator 2 and Back To The Future, the big screen will be used for video gaming.
The extensive refurbishment of The Windmill on the top corner of Station Road was still ongoing as we went to press this has included major alterations to the building which include a new entrance, toilet block and smoking area to the rear. They have been closed for so long they had to reapply for a licence.
The former Good beer Guide entry The Cock & Swine has now reopened as an Italian restaurant called Siena and they appear to only have Peroni available.
Over the road at The White Swan their refurbishment has included an outside drinking area to the front, this was completed while the pub stayed open.
Next for this treatment was The Cricketers on Manchester Road which should have started in May. Staff member Maureen Black was celebrating at Holt`s awards when she took the award for best front of house staff member back in march. Maureen has been here for over 25 years.
Just along the road Roses ‘N’ Poses has been converted to a micro bar, and will open as The Wobberley Stool. (Hope they include a letter box in their plans).
Egstra celebrations at The House Of Hops over Easter when glasses were raised for their first year of opening, Increasing the beers available to ten was a real bonus, well done Clare, Scott, Des & Staff (including unnamed bear).
The Royal British Legion in Boothstown, have retained branch club of the year this year. The club puts on regular events and in November will be hosting the Boothstown Beer Festival.
Over at The Royal Oad work continues with the vault having a face lift, the dart board has been relegated to the disco area in the back room.
We have been informed that The Ellesmere in Winton has closed and that The Brown Cow & The Ship Canal have both been demolished.
Following a lick of paint and a general spruce up late last year, Craig and Nikki Waite have taken over the Carters Arms, a Marston’s pub in Sale Moor. They have made an instant impact with two real ale pumps in action at the weekend, featuring a variety of different ales from the Marston’s range to accompany the Banks’s Bitter which is a permanent feature. Activity in the pub is thriving too with two pool teams in action on a Tuesday, a darts team on a Wednesday, bingo and a quiz on Thursdays, karaoke on Saturdays and killer pool and darts on Sundays. The traditional Bank Holiday music festivals also remain a popular feature of the Carters, taking place at the end of the late May and late August ones’.
The Nags Head in Urmston has reopened after a major refurbishment. The pub which is on Davyhulme Circle between Urmston centre and the Trafford Centre, has been moved into the Craft Union managed division of owner EI Group (formerly Enterprise Inns).
Many interesting internal features have survived the refit, including a fine snug (on the right as you enter) and the remnants of a traditional vault at the rear (now opened out). Elsewhere there are elaborate tiling on the staircase to the function room, some stained glass in the windows, wood carvings behind the bar, and wood panelling at the rear of the main drinking area. Perhaps surprisingly, bench seating round the walls has survived in all rooms, with only two tall ‘posing tables’ to represent modern fashion.
There are large, flat screen televisions throughout the pub, and the rear yard has been opened up to drinkers as a modest beer garden with a heated shelter for smokers.
Cask ale is available at low prices. When Beer Buzz called, Sharp’s Doom Bar was £1.85 and Timothy Taylor’s Landlord costs £2.05.
Flixton’s Fox & Hounds re-opened mid May after an extensive refurbishment throughout (including the long-awaited new kitchen). The pub has been re-branded The Fox : Pub & Kitchen, pushing fresh food on a weekly changing menu. There are three cask ales; Timothy Taylor’s Landlord, Robinsons’ Dizzy Blonde and another from Bombardier, Black Sheep or Doom Bar.
The pub is run by ‘Thornhill & Senior’ who also have ‘The Goose’ on Bloom Street in Manchester.
Chorlton’s The Beech Inn has been taken over by EI Group’s managed pub arm ‘Bermondsey Pub Co’.
EI denied long term tenant Chris Clish a lease renewal after he and his team had spent nine years returning the previously failing pub back to being a thriving community local.
The pub is due to re-open after refit in mid-July.
The Champion Beer Of Britain (CBoB) competition is one of CAMRA’s flagship awards and is considered to be one of the most prestigious awards by the breweries in the United Kingdom that win it.
There are eight CBoB areas, – these are London & South East, South West, East Anglia, East Midlands, West Midlands, North East & Yorkshire, Scotland & Northern Ireland and North West – these don’t mirror the 16 CAMRA regions, and some CBoB areas cover more than one CAMRA region.
There are currently competitions covering 11 beer styles – milds, bitters, best bitters, golden ales, strong bitters, speciality beers, old ales/strong milds, stouts, porters and barley wines/strong old ales, and bottled varieties. CAMRA is currently reviewing its beer styles guide so these styles may change in future.
Every year in September CAMRA members nominate their favourite beers, up to five in each style. Also at this stage, tasting panels from each CAMRA region have their chance to nominate beers they believe should go forward to the next stage. The results from members’ votes, and the tasting panel nominations form a short list of the most recommended beers.
Ideally the next stage is for local judging. This is usually at CAMRA or pub based beer festivals, to give the opportunity to select an area winner. This can be a prestigious local award. These choices can then go forward to judging at The Great British Beer Festival (GBBF) and GBBF Winter (for the four winter beer styles – old ales/strong milds, stouts, porters and barley wines/strong old ales) and, hence, to find CAMRA’s Champion Beer of Britain (and Champion Winter Beer of Britain).
At the GBBF the final CBoB category judging of the area winners takes place, with one winning beer from the Speciality Beer, Mild and Strong Bitter categories, coupled with two each from the Bitter, Golden Ale and Best Bitter categories proceeding into the final round in order to judge the Supreme Champion, which is crowned the best beer in Britain. The reason for two beers each from the Bitter, Golden Ale and Best Bitter categories is to accommodate for the proportionate share of the commercial beer market these beer styles command.
Four beers are fast tracked to the final round at GBBF; these are the winners of each category of the Champion Winter Beer of Britain (CWBoB) competition, held at the GBBF Winter festival in January-February each year. As these beers were judged to be the Champion Beers of their style earlier in the year, they are entered automatically into the final round of CBoB.
The CWBoB competition is similar in its structure to CBoB, as the final round of judging is made up of beers having reached this stage via the process of CAMRA members’ and tasting panels’ nominations, followed by area competition success. The categories in this competition are Old Ales/Strong Milds, Porters, Stouts and Barley Wines/Strong Old Ales.
There is a separate competition for the Champion Bottled Beer of Britain (which now includes cans too). Like CBoB the structure of the competition relies upon CAMRA members and tasting panel nominations, followed by the area competitions, with the final usually held at the BBC Good Food Show in November.
Beers are categorised according to their ABV, as it is now considered that this is more reflective of style and easier for most beer drinkers to understand. To be eligible for CBOB, a cask conditioned bitter, best bitter, strong bitter or golden ale must be available for seven or more months of the year, and a cask conditioned mild or speciality beer must be available for three or more months of the year, or the cask beer must be one of the beer styles associated with the winter season. We also categorise according to their Original Gravity (OG). If we have two beers with the same abv then we turn to the OG.
Beers with misleadingly promoted geographical origin, brands with non-cask versions promoted using CAMRA awards, or beers which have sexist or otherwise discriminatory pump clips or other branding are excluded.
Urmston’s Prairie Schooner Taphouse let Beer Buzz know about a new series of events,
Although their main commitment will always be to local brewers, they are launching a series of regional beer showcases on the first weekend of every month.
Their first ‘Beer Expo’ at the start of April focussed on London brewers. This will be ,followed by Wales and the Peak District at the beginning and end of May respectively (latter forming part of a larger beer, cider and music festival)
Showcases dedicated to breweries from Newcastle, Bristol, Scotland and Leeds are also being planned.
Dates for your diary:
Welsh Beer Expo is scheduled for the first weekend of May (brewers TBA)
Spring Cider & Music festival will kick off with a cider & cheese night on Weds, May 22nd. Local bands will be playing live music daily on the Friday, Saturday and Sunday (acts and cidermakers TBA)
Peak District Beer Expo will begin with a Thornbridge cask and keg tap takeover with street food on Weds, May 29th (other brewers TBA)
New craft beer bar & restaurant for King Street
As Beer Buzz Issue 2 went to press, news broke of a new venue set to open on King Street, Manchester.
The Mash Tun is due to open on April 19th in the site formerly occupied by Grafene Restaurant at 55 King Street.
The venue is being opened by Adam Regan who opened Stage and Radio bar beside Port Street Beer House in the Northern Quarter and Scott Martin who runs Fundamentum bakery on Piccadilly Place, working with Grafene’s former owners Paul & Kathryn Roden.
It promises a host of local ‘real ales’ and beers from local breweries including Cloudwater, Runaway and Beatnikz Republic and a range of their own ales. Advertising a total of 26 taps along a 12m long bar, it’s not clear if there will be any cask conditioned beers available.
The menu will include a mix and match selection of ten different sausages and ten different mashes, with choice of gravies. There will also be ligher lunch options and baked goods from Fundamentum’s bakery.
The venue will feature live music Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights with the bar due to be open until 3am. at weekends.