I met up with Tandleman last Thursday in the Lass o' Gowrie, and the evening started with pints of Allgate's Groundhop Day, a very pale yellow ale with a tasty hoppy bite on a light malt base. It's light and moreish and just perfect for kicking off a sunny afternoon session. We moved on, through the Victorian charm of Peveril of the Peak (Everard's Tiger on its second chance: still not convinced) and across the street to the JW Lees flagship pub, Ra!n Bar -- sited in a beautifully-converted umbrella factory. Here I started with Brewer's Dark, a well-mannered pint with mild roasted notes and a touch of creamy milk chocolate. Plain, simple and delicious. I wasn't so keen on Lees's new Coronation Street amber ale, finding it quite dull.
Onwards then to the long narrow front room of The Briton's Protection. Here my curiosity was piqued by Wem Lime Zinger: a beer which does exactly what it says on the pumpclip. The nose is full of sweet lime cordial and the taste is intensely limey, like chewing lime skin, with the malt adding a kind of lime candy sweetness at the base. Is that enough lime for you? One for beer purists to hate, but I loved it.
Next up was The Old Monkey, a Holt's house where I started with their creamy-yet-dry Mild while pondering the taps as we stood at the bar. I was amazed at the range of own-brand keg beers Holt's brew. A half of Holt's Black satisfied my curiosity: it's another dry roasty one and very similar to the cask mild -- make of that what you will, casketeers. The last half in The Old Monkey was Holt's Bitter: a dull beer with a bit of a musty wet dog finish to it.
We nipped in to the teeny-tiny Circus next, where Tetley's Bitter was on. As the man himself says, it was being served far too warm, but I liked the beer underneath. There's lots of rich roasted malt in here making for a round, grainy, chewy sort of pint.
This is where I lose track of the pub names. But it was a nice little boozer (edit: The Grey Horse -- cheers T.) where I found Hyde's Sacre Bleu: a light and peppery blonde which was perhaps just a little short on body but still highly enjoyable. I'm pretty sure we were in a Wetherspoons when I had Grainstore's Ten Fifty, a tasty number with pleasant candy and bubblegum notes.
Finally, we came to The City Arms. Here I found a curious throwback in the form of Ind Coope's Burton Ale, a complex bitter with a sweet floral nose and elements of honey and rosewater in the flavour, but also a sulphurous Burton kick as well. One to sit and contemplate after Tandleman headed off for his bus leaving me to wander hotelwards.
It was a fun evening and I definitely felt I'd got the full benefit of Manchester's top pubs, something I regretted missing on my last visit to the city. Thanks for being my tour guide, Tandleman.