Thursday 24th January 2013
I have written a short article about the excellent Microbar previously in BeerVisits but this was something different, their first Beer Festival. It was timed to coincide with the CAMRA Winter Ales Festival that was held in the city at the same time. I had visited the bar the day before as they were setting up and could see that this was a big deal for the small bar.
There was an extremely eclectic beer list and whilst I had heard of a number of them, there were some that I had not come across before. I won't dare to bore you with the complete list but the following breweries were new to me: By the Horns; Clarence & Frederick; Luckie; Medieval; Mr Grundys and Muir House.
The beers were racked on stillage against the glass side of the building on the Church Street side. There were also two ciders from Heck's and Gwynt y ddraig and a perry from Olivers.
One thing that did catch my eye was that there were three beers from Brodies of Leyton, London that were in something called a Key Keg. At the back of my mind I think I have read something about this. However, I would have switched off as soon as I saw "keg" in the title.
What I don't understand is why a perfectly respectable brewery such as Brodies should be playing about with keg beer. The last time I had a look in their yard it was absolutely stacked with casks!
Another surprising thing (or maybe not) was the prices of these beers. The 3.7% offering was the same as the cask beers, £3. However, the 7.0% one was £4 and a 10% beer was £5! I can get a reasonable wine of 13% in a 750ml bottle for that price! I suppose it is just a bit more proof that these "nouveau-keg" aficionados have got a lot of money to waste on these products.
The Microbar itself functioned as normal and had another five beers. From the owning company, Boggart of Newton Heath, Manchester, there were Meme (4.0%); Rum Porter (4.6%) on hand pump and straight from a cask on the bar their magnum opus Rum Porter Extra (6.4%). Also on hand pump were: Arbor Ales (Bristol) Phoenix Stout (4.3%) and Saltaire (Saltaire, Yorks) Bavarian Black (4.9%).
The Microbar is, of course, situated in the Market area of the Arndale Centre, and is surrounded by food outlets of every persuasion and you can bring their offerings to the tables and stools right in front of the bar to consume with a pint.
A nice touch was that the adjacent cheese shop was offering platters of mixed cheeses.
I was there at opening time and by the time I left there were a good twenty-five drinkers getting stuck in.
I hope it was a successful enterprise and hope they repeat it. Of course, the Microbar is still to be found in the Market, even when there isn't a beer festival, please see below for its usual hours of opening. Also, please don't forget it is also one of the best off licences in the city.
The MicroBar, Arndale Centre Market, Manchester
Open when the market is: Monday-Saturday 11.00-19.00; Sunday 12.00-17.00
Close to Market Street and Shudehill Metrolink stops, also many local Bus stops.
It is less than ten minutes from Victoria station and fifteen minutes from Piccadilly station.