Take a day to sample the multitude of breweries and taprooms that have sprung up in and around the city.
With a huge influx in the number of blokes hiring out an old railway unit, grabbing some tanks and stirring some hops – you can have an ace day out hopping from one to the other and giving their blood, sweat and tears the definitive taste test. Not literally.
We’re going to start the day off down in the proper dodgy end of the city – the manky red light bit behind Piccadilly train station. Not only is this the place where the Google Maps car caught a guy getting a handy, but it’s also home to many of the city’s smaller, independent brewing companies which usually have great taprooms.
Most of these places are only open on the weekend, so I highly suggest you do The Brewer’s Mile on a Saturday.
We’re going to start on N Western Street, which features a wealth of brewers, starting off with Beer Nouveau…
You’d be forgiven for never having heard of Beer Nouveau – I certainly hadn’t until I started doing this, although it is well known that I’m a massive ignoramus. They’re an experimental micro-brewery focussing on old recipes but using new ingredients and techniques. This all sounds well and good but does the beer taste good? Well, I only managed to try their Sister to Nun Pale Ale but I must admit to finding it mightily impressive, and the surrounding taproom was a great place to relax and end up chatting to anyone and everyone about either beers, beards or bikes (or all three).
Beer Nouveau, 75 N Western St, Manchester M12 6DY
0161 272 7733
Also on N Western Street is the Chorlton Brewing Company (whose Sour beers are legendary) as well as the Manchester Brewing Company. Depending on what day you’re down there and what’s going on you might be able to pop in and have a few jars in there too.
From here head up the road, cross the main road, jump the barriers and you’ll be back on N Western Street for some more tilts…
Manchester Union Lager
A brand new tipple on the scene, the guys behind Manchester Union were looking to create a lager that was completely different to anything you’d ever experienced before. They bang on about a ‘full mouth feel’ and ‘decoction’ and even though I have no idea what it all means – it doesn’t really matter in the end. Let them do all the science stuff and you can just sit in ignorance in their great little tap room, enjoying one of the best lagers ever. The guys will be opening the taproom proper in early March.
Alphabet Brewing Company
Just down the road from Manchester Union and past the weird gym you’ll find Alphabet, creators of such wonderful brews as the White Breakfast Stout, the A to the K Oatmeal Pale Ale and a brilliant Czech Pilsner that’ll slide down your throat just a little too quickly. Their taproom is open every Saturday so you can get your mitts on all of this stuff (and more). It’s pretty big and there’s usually plenty of people down there getting hammered and having a good time. On occasion they’ll put some food on and a DJ but if not – take a spare Twix and a flute.
Alphabet Brewing Company, 99 N Western St, Manchester M12 6JL
From here you’re heading North up St. Andrew’s Street and Cloudwater…
I keep hearing off ‘people in the know’ that Cloudwater is one of the best breweries in the world. I don’t know how much volition is in these claims – but they appear to be ranked usually either 1st or 2nd in the RateBeer Best Top 10 which is kind of like being on Top of the Pops every single bloody week but better. So seeing as they’re so good it’s clear that they’re going to want to show off their skills with a big juicy tap room. Correct. Open 7 days a week, this place has a long list of brews on tap, with some great one-off beers available where you could find some right weird stuff (that usually tastes absolutely amazing).
Cloudwater Brew Co, 7-8, Piccadilly Trading Estate, Manchester M1 2NP
0161 661 5943
It’s just a short walk now to Track, but the streets are a bit confusing. My advice would be to get yourself into the 21st Century and get Google Maps out.
Track Brewing Co.
Not actually located within the brewery itself, don’t let that put you off from visiting the Track Taproom. It’s only across the way from where all of that magic is happening, so the beer is still fresher than a spring meadow and just as refreshing. This one is open on Friday, Saturday and Sunday so there’s more time to sample some of their hoppy delights with an ever-changing tap list that invariably will include some proper bangers on there. Seeing as this is going to be a long day though, best stick to the sessions.
Track Brewing Co, Crusader Mill, 64 Chapeltown St, Manchester M1 2WH
0161 273 4832
Right, you’ll have had enough of this manky bit of town so head on up to the NQ and in particular – Dale Street.
Beatnikz Republic Bar
Without having to trek all the bloody way to the Green Quarter (not yet anyway), the good people at Beatnikz have opened up a brand-spanking new taproom right bang in the Northern Quarter. With a massive keg list that’s always changing even the fussiest of drinkers will be catered for whether it’s an IPA, Pale Ale, Cider or even the odd Sour beer knocking about – they’ve got the lot. There’s also a great little cask section too, should you want some of that inside you. I must also say that it gets pretty rowdy in here and it’s one of the best places in the NQ (if not the city) to just chat to randomers, make new friends and have a bloody good time.
Beatnikz Republic Bar, 35 Dale Street, Manchester, M1 2HF
Port Street Beer House
I don’t think any beer-based trek around the city would be complete without a visit to this Port Street institution. They’ve won pretty much every single award under the sun, except perhaps an Oscar and the Gold Swimming Badge that to this day is still unclaimed by anyone in Britain. You know the score in here – you’re going to get a long list of beers and ales to choose from, it’s going to take you 20 minutes to decide, you get a beer, enjoy it and then go back to consulting the list for another 20 minutes. What they have is always changing so I’m not going to outdate this article by listing them. Just check their website.
Port Street Beer House, 39-41 Port St, Manchester M1 2EQ
0161 237 9949
Cruise yourself on up to Ancoats now…
Seven Brothers Beerhouse
With a brewery all the way over in bloody Salford or something, it makes perfect sense for Seven Brothers to set up a taproom somewhere in the city centre. Whichever one of the seven made that decision deserves a bit of a raise. Or perhaps a cheeky little bonus. If that same brother is also responsible for deciding to plonk themselves in Cutting Room Square as well – make them your CEO because that was a genius move. The taproom is open pretty much all the time – pop in and enjoy some hoppy goodness from the brothers, as well as some gin from the sisters too if that’s your tipple.
Seven Brothers Beerhouse, The Ice Plant, 39 Blossom St, Manchester M4 5AF
0161 228 2404
From here walk down Great Ancoats Street towards Victoria Station. Once you’re just past NOMA, take a right where the old Ducie Bridge pub used to be and head towards Angel Meadow…
The Runaway Brewery
Right around the back of Angel Meadow, Runaway Brewery open up their tap room every Saturday for beers and a giggle – where you can tuck into some of their fantastic tilts straight from the source. I’m a big fan of their American Brown Ale but they also do a cracking range of IPAs and Pale Ales. You’ll also find a few oddities here now and then with regularly changing seasonal offerings (like a Gingerbread Stout) and the occasional collaboration. To be fair to the gang down there, there’s not much else going on around this part of town so getting sloshed on ales is clearly the most attractive choice for everyone.
The Runaway Brewery, Unit 4 Millgate, Dantzic Street, Manchester M4 4JW
0161 832 2628
Also in this area is Blackjack who also have a rather excellent taproom. They only usually open it on special occasions – usually during the summer months. Keep an eye on their socials for events and such.
The Marble Arch
Just a short distance from the actual brewery, we all might as well call the Marble Arch a taproom. That’s probably doing it a bit of an injustice though, as this is a real-life proper British boozer in itself, one that not only manages to look the part, it also pulls out all the stop to ensure that you have an amazing time. They have a very impressive food menu of British classics available, where my recommendation would be for you to tuck into their massive Bacon Chop with chips, as well as a brilliant beer garden out back. The inside the pub itself is also highly impressive – you’ll find yourself just staring off to look at the walls instead of listening to your mate’s shit stories.
The Marble Arch, 73 Rochdale Rd, Manchester M4 4HY
0161 832 5914