Sunday, January 12, 2014

A Day In Manchester

After spending a week working in the office it was really nice to head into Manchester to check out the city. I met up with my brother and nephew who were over to see Man United play Swansea. It was great to catch up with family. It always is. The rest of the day was spent in record shops and searching for the elusive epic beer bar that I was sure existed in Manchester.

I could easily lose myself in Manchester's record stores. The city itself is really great with a wonderful old world architecture that blends with the new Europe. Take a five minute walk off the beaten track to the Northern Quarter and the streets turn from commercial chain shopping to Bohemia, with record stores, cafes, indy clothes shops, and cool people. The musical history of Manchester is on par with any city in the world. They love their sounds. Joy Division, The Smiths, The Stone Roses, Oasis, to name a few. The streets Ian Curtis walked have changed but the Northern Soul remains. And the record stores that don't exist in Boston are alive with slabs of vinyl from every genre.   
I was lost in the tunes despite not owning a record player in the UK or even buying anything. I just looked at all the records I will buy before I head back and went old skool at one store selecting a load of techno and listening to the records on a 1200 turntable. Brought me back to the old days of record buying. Its inspiring that it still lives and thrives in Manchester.

Next up was the search for some real beer. I heard Manchester had a decent subculture around craft beer. I saw a list in the Guardian Newspaper but none of the bars were located in the Northern Quarter, and I had to imagine that alongside great record shops and coffee shops there must be a decent beer bar. A quick look on the Google machine offered Port Street Beer House and it was perfect. I found home! Absolutely fantastic beer selection from all over the world including many of the beers I know and love in the USA. Obviously I was all about new experiences and some of the drinks were beautiful. I kicked the session off with some Magic Rock, a brewery out of Huddersfield. Started with the Cannonball IPA and then progressed on to the amazing Human Cannonball Imperial IPA at 9.2%. It actually had a very smooth taste and was almost too easy to drink. I'm not saying I'd put it on the level of Maharaja IPA or 90 minute but it was still very tasty.

After the Magic Rock I moved onto Kernal Brewery out of London. They have very minimal labels on their beer and a lot of IPA's with different hop selections. I tried the 7.2% IPA with Centennial and Amarillo hops. Smooth and very solid IPA, similar to Founders Centennial. Its so great to see these breweries popping up and churning out IPA and 2xIPA. I missed the rise of this in USA so its nice to see it happening first hand. My conversation with the bartenders was joyful, and then I met Des. Good beer bars bring beer lovers together. Des is a local beer obsessive and he gave me an education like I've never had before. He has fallen on tough times and his hobby, and the thing that keeps him sane, is his passion for beer. Im gonna meet him again in a couple of weeks and we are going to tour the best beer bars in Manchester starting off in Salford, home to a great Belgian beer bar. He is also gonna take me to Salford Lads Club so like every other raincoated lover I can get my picture taken.
Leo pulling the pints
I started to get drunk and I don't know what the IPA I had on the right is!

Des gave me the heads up on all the great beer festivals in Belgium so I am gonna hit a couple. Bruges has a world class Beer Festival that happens on the same weekend as Cyclocross World Champs. I need to figure out how I swing both. If I have to sleep on the street I'll make it happen. Its all about experiences, right?

Solid first week in the North West and settling in nicely. Missing my friends back in BOS but if every week is as quick as this first one I'll be back before they know I've left.

Peace and Love,

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