Now, this was not one of my beer tours. Well, few of my tours are actually beer tours. They are often business trips where I can fit in an evening or a day of beer at one end. This, on the other hand, was a family tour.
This meant a morning shopping at Marks & Spencer, a visit to the Old Trafford Megastore (they had a ticket razzia on the tram out there, and we were told we had bought far too expensive tickets!) and lunch in a chippy on the way back to town. My portion of chips was enough to feed the family and was a bargain at one pound. We were to visit Chinatown in the evening, so I was given a few hours leave in the afternoon while the others went to the swimming pool.
I made a brisk walk to cover some of the pubs close to the hotel. Thanks to the map on Scoopergen, I knew where to go.
The White Lion was more or less across the street. Nothing much exciting on tap. I had a half ot Copper Dragon Best Bitter, a fine and uncomplicated session beer.
The Sir Ralph Abercromby (I’m sure it has a nickname, I didn’t ask) had another Copper Dragon on cask, this one a Challenger IPA. A light bodied beer, which could easily been branded a bitter as well. The maltiness was a bit toned down, given more space for the delicate flowery hops.
I looked into a Wetherspoon’s close to City Hall, rather filled up with people having a drink before dragging home their shopping bags.
My only stop where I lingered a bit was the Ape and Apple. An old fashioned pub offering the full range from the local Holt’s brewery, beers that you hardly see outside the local area. I ordered some halves and got a few extra samples as well.
I have tried the Holt’s Bitter before, so I skipped this. The other regular on cask was the mild. To be polite, it was a fine example of the style, but I find these beers too malty and sweet and lacking the proper hoppiness of the best English ales.
They obviously want to offer a full range of beers from their own stable, so instead of giving all the bar space to Guinness and Kilkenny, they have their own Black and Smooth, both being kegged, chilled and nitro’ed in the same way as the originals. Just as well. Two lagers, also, one premium and one weaker for the WifebeaterStella and Beck’s Vier crowd.
The best of their range was the seasonal, Nuts & Holts. The pump clip says it’s brewed with Williamette hops, a variety I can’t recall feing flagged anywhere. I’m sure all you homebrewers know more about it. Anyway, it has a lovely aroma and flavour – roses, dust and a bitter tail. Worth seeking out.
To top this, they had a tak away offer of three of their bottled beers for five pounds, which I could not resist.
The Ape and Apple had a community feeling, with adult people of both sexes enjoying the afternoon. Nothing flashy or upmarket, dark wood and windows that let the light in. Low prices, which probably means there is a differerent type of drinking in the evening.
One more stop on the way back to the hotel. In the railway arches next to Deansgate Station you’ll find the Knott Bar. A long range of glittering taps here, and an opportunity to try some beer from the Marble brewery, located in North Manchester. Excellent beers named simply Pint and Bitter, a bit of a pity that my full glass was their Ginger beer, which had way too much ginger, as it overpowered the pleasant beer base underneath.
Amazing will power made me head for the door and back to the Hilton again. The next time I’m in town I have to make sure there is time for a full crawl..