Manchester

Me and Leanne are not ones for making New Year’s Resolutions, but what we like to do is make a list of plans for the year. One of these was to simply explore the beer scene in Manchester more, so when Track announced they were having a joint brew tap with Squawk, we were straight on with booking the train tickets.

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We arrived in a lovely (wet) Manchester and decided that we would go and visit an old friend, Bryony, at 57 Thomas Street. The bar has recently been refurbished and we have to say, it was looking great. Downstairs is fairly minimal but nevertheless an inviting space. Here there are a number of keg lines, predominantly Marble, along with a few guests. There is also a good selection of games at the end of the bar – perfect for a rainy Saturday afternoon.

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All of the core range of the Marble beers are under £4 a pint – really good value. Straight in with a Lagonda then please!

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Our ‘guide’ for the day, Mark, soon ventured in from the pouring rain and we headed up to the newly opened first floor where the cask range is. I say cask, it’s gravity cask so straight from the barrel. Personally I prefer my cask on hand pull to give a bit more body. I tried the New IPA from Marble – the flavours were great but it was just lacking the body that comes from a great hand pull. After a quick game of giant ‘Jenga’, sorry, ‘Jeronimo’, with Bryony and her sister it was time to head over to Track. There was no way we were walking, so a taxi was essential.

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We arrived at the row of railway arches, with no sign of a party. All of the arches seemed to be closed, but luckily we had been to Track when the Manchester Beer Expo was on so I knew we were in the right place.

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Now, for us, Track produce some of the best cask pales that the UK have to offer right now so this was one of the main reasons to go over the Pennines and sample the delights straight from the source. There was a great range of keg beers from both Track and Squawk as well as cask from Track. I opted for the 5 Alive (Squawk) to kick things off. I was expecting this to be a juicy banger, however it was a little too bitter and not lot of juice. Leanne just told me to get her anything from Track (she loves them), so Mazama was my option for her. This is a great solid IPA, highly drinkable and fruity. I think it’s a sign of a good brewery when you ask for any of their beers, knowing whichever one you get will taste good.

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Tom soon joined us after stopping off on his way home from Liverpool. However, he was very disappointed by the lack of tagine -it seems that amongst all the joking he hadn’t realised that today was a tagine free day. What they did have was delicious Columbian street food from Arepa Arepa Arepa, the perfect accompaniment to a beer.

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It soon filled up at Track so it was time to head somewhere new. After Mark took us through a short cut that wouldn’t look out of place in Silent Witness, we made it to Picadilly Tap. This place always has a great beer list but for us, there just seems to be something missing. It’s an OK stop off if you want a nice beer while waiting for the train, but the decor is a tad cold and it just feels slightly unfinished. I went for Cloudwater – Winter Range – IPA on keg- what a winner!

We were on pre-booked trains so we had to strategically plan on our next watering hole allowing us to end up at Victoria Station in good time. We decided to go and re-visit Bryony at 57 Thomas Street and finish off there before heading home. The bar was much busier now it was later in the evening – the atmosphere was really good – not absolutely packed but nice enough to feel like a Saturday night. After a few more Lagondas (and a Dirty Girty for Mark) it was time to leave our ‘guide’ and dash for the train.

We have visited Track twice now and not been disappointed either time, so we will be over for another brewtap some time soon. As for 57 Thomas Street, well its a 10 minute walk from Manchester Victoria or Manchester Picadillily  – it’s definitely worth a visit.

Simon’s beer of the day – Cloudwater, Winter Range IPA, 8%

Leanne’s beer of the day – Track, Mazama, 5.5%