MM’s top five… Manchester cider pubs and bars

By Paddy von Behr

There is one thing a West Country lad living in the North West will miss more than the temperate weather or his own family – authentic cider.

Every pub in Bristol, Somerset and Devon can offer you a locally-sourced, hand-pumped and probably toxically-powerful pint of the stuff.

But, whether you’re missing southern cider or just fancy getting to know the golden nectar, there are plenty of places to grab a pint in Manchester.

You’ll just need to remember a few key tips to help fool seasoned cider-drinkers into thinking you are one of them.

Firstly, know your marketing gimmicks from your lingo – there is no such thing as pear cider (perry is a separate drink altogether) and you do not pour it over ice.

Hand-pumped cider is the original and the best but, more often than not, flat – so if you like your cider with a bit of fizz, perhaps stick to bottles to play it safe.

Finally, good cider is a strong drink. The Coronation Tap in Bristol – a personal favourite of mine – serves its exhibition brew in half-pint glasses for safety reasons.

Keep an eye on how many you have had, as an early – and seemingly innocent – cider buzz can really get away from you.

So, with your basic guide out of the way, here is a run-down of Manchester’s top five cider establishments.

5. Micro Bar

The Arndale Centre’s food section is not somewhere you might expect to find a decent pub, but what Micro Bar lacks in size, it makes up for in cider.

The tiny wooden bar – devoid of any sort of seating – almost always stocks a cider on hand-pump, as well as a nice selection of bottles in the fridge.

However the real attraction is the wide variety of bottles stocked on the shelves behind the bar – not chilled, but that’s how many veterans prefer it!

4. Bar Fringe

This Swan Street establishment is perhaps better known for its wide selection of continental draught beers, but it also stocks a decent cider accompaniment.

This consists of Thatchers Gold, the distinctively-coloured Cheddar Valley – it looks oddly like a pint of Fanta – and a cask of Moonshine (not that kind).

However, Fringe’s most attractive cider selling point may well be its selection of bottled brews.

These consist of the less well-known Holdens – including the brilliantly named Summat Else – which are well worth a taste to broaden your horizons.

And they host a cider festival a couple of times a year, comprising of plenty more cask options – and the place also has an old-school jukebox, if you’re into that.

3. The Angel

Located right on the edge of the Northern Quarter, The Angel offers a strong selection of beers and a bar menu verging on the territory of fine-dining.

However, it’s worth popping into the Angel Street boozer for a pint of cider.

They stock two ever-changing options from hand-pumps – currently Evesham Knee Knocker (very sweet) and Heck’s Somerset Farmhouse (not one for a novice).

One potential drawback is a lack of bottled options – which may please the purists – but guest ciders, such as Sweet Anchorville Whiskey (a strong option) are well worth a try. 

2. Port Street Beer House

This establishment is, unsurprisingly, located in the Northern Quarter’s Port Street and stocks an extravagant choice of beers – bordering on the excessive.

However they also do alright in the cider market recently switching from stocking two in boxes to one on hand pump – currently Farmhouse Pyder, of the Welsh family.

In terms of bottles, a couple of Dunkertons are complemented by a large range of Gwynt y ddraig – the scrumpy is highly recommended.

Black Dragon and Orchard Gold are also in the fridge – in fact, if you like Welsh ciders this is where you need to be.

1. Font Bar

An ever-changing selection and variation of ciders keeps Font Bar fresh and at the top of the list.

The owners are constantly looking to get their hands on as many different brews as possible, including new ciders, making them the real innovators of the North West cider scene.

The bar serves up three ciders from boxes on the back of the bar – subject to constant change – as well as an impressive range of bottles.

These include less well-known ciders from the traditional Dunkertons – try the Breakwells Seedling – to the more modern-styled Ross-on-Wye Rubric and Thistly Cross Whisky Cask.

Font is certainly worth a long afternoon of sampling all the treats they have on offer.

Image courtesy of jlake03 via YouTube, with thanks.

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