Urmston, Greater Manchester:
Prairie Schooner Taphouse and Bottle Store
Sunday 25th January 2015
The name of this pub seems a little unusual. It a colloquial name for the covered wagons that crossed to the west of the USA with settlers seeking a new life. But what is the connection with Urmston?
That comes about because one of the co-owners is Robert MacRae who hails from Kansas which was crossed by the Prairie Schooners, the pub displays the State flag. His partner is Christian McKie.
Both of these gentlemen are CAMRA Members and they got the taste for selling beer as volunteers at the many beer festivals in the Greater Manchester area organised by the Campaign. As can be deduced from its name this pub is also an Off-Licence offering a large amount of bottled beers from all over the world. The pub is part of the on-going regeneration of Urmston. Considerable progress has be made with a number of small independent shops opening over the last few years.
On this visit I was accompanied by wife Linda and we had stopped off at Urmston on a journey from Warrington to Manchester. The railway station is very close indeed.
We have since revisited and some changes have been so I will present it as it was when we first called in with details of what is now different. The last use of the premises was as a shop selling golf equipment. It opened in its present guise on 1st October 2014.
The first thing we were struck by on entering was that it was a larger micropub than is the norm. That is not a criticism by the way, just an observation.
The bar service area is in the middle of the room with a counter on three sides. There are fridges for bottled beers underneath. More bottles are to found on shelves at the front of the pub, which seem to be the main retail area.
This section has a shelf along the front window and there are a couple of high wooden tables and chairs. In the rear part of the pub the seating is lower with armchairs etc. When we visited in 2015 the casks were on the bar top and were cooled by a cool water system. This all changed in December of that year when a cool cabinet was installed and connected to hand pumps on the bar top.
Obviously the change in dispense means the beer is served in optimum condition. Additional, the cool cabinet can hold eight firkins so a) there is room for an expansion in the number of beers sold and b) there is always another beer in top condition waiting to come on when one runs out. At the same time as these alterations a couple of keg lines were added for the “craft”.
There are lots of things going on in the pub. Quiz nights are held every Tuesday at 20.00 and on Thursdays there is vinyl night, when you can bring your own along to stop them playing theirs! A DJ performs on the 2nd and 4th Friday in the month, the Micropub Police Force would quake in their boots!
There are Beer and Cheese paring nights and local breweries often have “Tap Takeover” nights with their brewer present.
Normally there are four cask beers available. When we visited in 2015 there were just three: Seven Brothers (Salford) EPA (4.8%); Axholme Brewing (Crowle, North Lincolnshire) Clearwater Pale Ale (4.3%) and Milestone (Cromwell, Nottinghamshire) Loxley Ale (4.2%). There were also ciders from Sheppy’s (Bradford on Tone, Somerset) and Sandford Orchards (Crediton, Devon).
In addition to the beer and cider they also sell wine, artisan malt whiskies and gin. Their soft drinks and mixers are supplied by the local Classic Cola Co. No food apart from snacks in packets such as Fiddler’s crisps from Lancashire. They offer a 20p discount to CAMRA members and a 50% discount for CAMRA Wetherspoon’s vouchers.
The pub is easy to get to and you should visit if you are in the area.
The Prairie Schooner Taphouse and Bottle Store, 33 Flixton Road, Urmston,
Greater Manchester M41 5AW
Hours: Monday Closed; Tuesday-Thursday 15.00-22.30; Friday-Saturday 14.00-24.00; Sunday 14.00-22.00
The pub is very close to Urmston station. However should you arrive from the Manchester direction you need to use the road bridge to get to the Flixton Road side. Once over the road bridge turn left go past the station and within a few minutes you will find the pub on the left. Should you arrive from the Warrington direction just left the station and turn left.
Urmston Station is on the line from Manchester Oxford Road to Warrington Central and Liverpool. Mondays to Fridays and Sundays they are hourly and on Saturdays every half hour. They are operated by Northern Rail.
Urmston is served by many bus routes from many different directions.
These are routes 15, 22, 23, 245, 255, 268, 276 and 278.