England Beer Adventure – Part 2
If you read England Beer Adventure Part 1, you’d know that Chas and the Beer Muse are in England (and heading up to Scotland) sampling all the beer that there is to sample. In Part 1, we checked out some pubs in Newcastle and York. Now we’ve made our way to the tiny village of Great Ayton and also found our way to might Manchester to check out their scene.
All this travel has been done by train, and, for anybody considering visiting the UK, we highly recommend this mode of travel. It’s no slower than flying, since there’s no travel to an airport and no security, it’s comfortable, and travellers get to see the beautiful British countryside as they travel. Really, it’s the best way to go. Just book your tickets in advance; buying them on the day at the train station is far more expensive than buying them on line the day before. Yes, we learned this the hard way!
Great Ayton – Home of the Parmo
Great Ayton is a village of about 4,600 people and it has exactly two pubs. Both of which serve a local delicacy called a chicken parmo. This is not to be confused with the chicken parma (formally known as the chicken parmigiana). The parma is breaded chicken with ham, tomato sauce, and cheese on top. It’s also one of the best dishes ever invented. The parmo, on the other hand, is breaded chicken with bechemal sauce (white sauce typically used on lasagne) and cheese on top. It’s not without its charm, but a parmo is nothing compared to the mighty parma!
The two pubs in Great Ayton are the Royal Oak (AKA The Oak) and the Buck and, as seems to be the rule in all English pubs, had hand pumps, which is always a treat to any Australian beer lover. Of course the beer selection left something to be desired, but local favourites were easily available next to larger Euro-lagers.
So while there wasn’t anything extremely crafty in town, we still managed to track down the likes the Theakston Old Peculiar (AKA “The Legend”) which is not an uncommon beer, but a great one nonetheless. Basically, one shouldn’t travel to Northern England and not try an Old Peculiar.
Similarly, another big beer in the area was the Black Sheep Bitter. Once again, a larger brewery (this one is a lot newer than Theakston though) but they still make a great beer. Only in the UK will you walk into any pub and find a pretty decent bitter on tap. ‘Nough said.
On this part of our beer adventure, we nipped over to Runswick Bay for an evening to see the sites and of course popped into the Runswick Bay Hotel. Despite being haunted (Chas saw the image of a woman in a white dress in the courtyard), it was cosy, had some lovely local bitters available and even one from the U.S.! As mentioned in our last post, American beers popped up from time time and this was no exception. This time is was the American Pale Ale by Shipyard Brewing Company out of Maine. This beer popped up quite a bit in random pubs all over Yorkshire and North Yorkshire. Strange as Shipyard isn’t terribly big or well renowned! It was a half decent beer, but how did it get there?
Manchester’s Beer Scene – Pretty Good!
We rolled into Manchester at about 11 AM and, to our horror, not a single bar in the trendy Northern Quarter would serve us until noon. Instead, we made our way to Beermoth to check out their wonderful selection of beer. These guys are probably Manchester’s best bottle shop with plenty of local beer and from abroad. The staff were more than helpful in helping us get a good selection of locally made beers to share with the friends we we visiting.
What’s more, upon hearing we were from Melbourne, Australia, the shopkeeper asked us if we had heard of Exit Brewing! Anyone who knows anyone in the Brew in Review team knows we all love Exit and the team at Beermoth were friends with Fraser. It was great to have a chat, learn about the beer scene, and make new friends.
We took a slight detour after buying our beers and popped into the legendary Afflecks Palace. While this place isn’t beer related, it’s most definitely worth a visit if you’re popping to Manchester. If you can think of it, you can probably find it in Afflecks. Plus there’s a cafe at the top to give some refreshment after climbing up the three or four flights of stairs. Check it out!
Finally, we made our way to the Cane and Grain for a few pints which, of course, were quite welcome. The selection of taps and bottles was great. This was only bar that showcased quite a lot of American beer and pretty much nothing from the local area; anything English was from another area. We weren’t complaining but it echoed our experience at Beermoth that Manchester is a city that loves its beer, but there’s only a handful of places brewing nearby at the moment. Yes, there are a few great local breweries, but obviously not enough for such a thirsty city!
Once again, this was echoed the following day when we went to the Beermoth Cafe in central Manchester (not to be confused with their Northern Quarter shop). There was a stellar selection of taps and an even bigger selection of bottles, but a very limited amount of what could be considered “local.” That said, we enjoyed some great English beers and a few American ones to boot. The American beers was stuff we wouldn’t be able to find in Australia, so while it felt a little bit silly having an American beer in Manchester during what’s supposed to be an English beer adventure, we jumped at the chance. Especially because one of the American beers was a sour by Almanac Beer Co., and, if you’ve been reading, you know how we feel about sour beers… Almanac’s Farmer’s Reserve Citrus was, to put it mildly, amazing.
As is our habit, we spent more time than we should have in Beermoth Cafe! The selection was just too good. However, we made it to Luck Lust Liquor & Burn for Manchester’s best burritos. This place is a must in the Northern Quarter to fill a hungry belly.
Beer Highlights and Where to Next
Our trip is winding to an end, but we’re about to hit whisky country: Scotland! This will be tales of hiking, scenery, and the drinking that goes with it. Then, sadly, we’ll be heading back to Newcastle to head back to Australia. But fortunately not before a couple more nights in the five star accommodation of Hotel Roberto. We’re sure we’ll find a pub or two.
But more importantly, the highlights of this round! We’ll be doing a more thorough summary later: