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Port Street Beer House review

Jonathan Schofield loves a typical example of the ‘new pubs’

Written by . Published on February 17th 2011.

Port Street Beer House review

Port Street Beer House is a classic of its type: a new pub. The thing with the new pubs is that they are sort of bars.

Or rather they’re an evolution of the bar with all the virtues of a proper boozer; good community, pleasant barkeeps, mixed age clientele, great drinks range and a feeling of being a home from home.

They fill a gap in the market between the fading pub and the loud bar by being creative and appealing to the more sophisticated drinker who wants a range of flavours with their chatter.

Port Street even looks like a home from home. Sofas, settees, domestic style paint schemes. It fits the old definition of a pub as ‘the third place’ like a glove: in other words a place separate from the pressures of domesticity and work.

It’s also an offshoot of Common on Edge Street about 700 metres away as the crow flies. Common is a bar’s bar, with vivid interior decor, lager-heavy drinks range, and a good-looking crowd, of impossibly tuned-in people in the 20-35 age range. At night the music gets loud.

Port Street is a calmer more mature space on two levels dominated by a majestic array of pumps displaying brews from a feast of beermakers: Acorn, Brewdog, Prospect and Dark Star. There are plenty of overseas options as well including Flensberger Pilsner and Sierra Nevada.

As for food. The manager has the correct answer to an enquiry about this.

“No plans for food at present. We might increase the snack selection but we want to keep the focal point on the most exciting part of our business, the variety of beer,” says William France.

“That’s our passion,” he continues. “We lean towards the craft-style beers, trying to push the beer market forward.”

And if he had to choose from the present range what would he go for?

“On cask,” he says, “the Dark Star Goldengate which is £3.30, a golden blond cask ale with autumnal spiced flavour at 4.5%. Out of the bottle, The Kernel, a coffee IPA, 6.5%, £4.80. It’s unbelievably good.”

It’s easy to see why confident yet comfortable homes from homes such as Port Street are so popular. Too many traditional pubs are crippled by under-investment from pubcos such as Punch Taverns and Enterprise Inns, they are left with no room for manoeuvre except downwards. It’s a crying shame.

Freehouses such as Port Street Beer House can prosper by being distinctive yet familiar. They fill a gap in the market between the fading pub and the loud bar by being creative and appealing to the more sophisticated drinker who wants a range of flavours with their chatter.Try this place dear readers, it is seriously good.

Rating: 16.5/20
Breakdown: 8/10 ambience
4/5 drinks
4.5/5 service
Address: Port Street Beer House,
39-41 Port Street,
M1 2EQ
tel: 0161 237 9949
Web: click here

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27 comments so far, continue the conversation, write a comment.

Tyson ThebeerhoundFebruary 17th 2011.

Glad to see MC following in my footsteps and giving the PSBH such a good review. They've got the basics right: strong cask line up and an excellent draught/bottled selection. The policy on food is spot on as well-in a place like that it is an unnecessary nuisance.

All in all, it's a great addition to Manchester's drinking scene. But, let's be honest, despite what they say, they are not in the N/4.

DaveFebruary 17th 2011.

Nice enough place - probably a few too many US brewed beers for my tastes (despite the hype they are on the whole so-so), would prefer more Euro Beers (selection from Belgium is smaller than I'd have expected).

AnonymousFebruary 17th 2011.

Tyson - if not N/4, where are they?

revporlFebruary 17th 2011.

Is that the old beer engine?

AnonymousFebruary 17th 2011.

They are in the FaQua or Fashion Quarter as some know it as, due to the abundance of Fashion Wholesalers.

Ali McGowanFebruary 17th 2011.

FaQua - love it! I shall use that instead of 'between Piccadilly and the Northern Quarter. Woo hoo!

DibigoFebruary 17th 2011.

Tyson - if not N/4, where are they?
Answer: Port Street

M30February 17th 2011.

I'd personally call it Ancoats, but I think the beardy-wierdy types ipad wielding types would dislike it for being old fashioned. Really not into SoHo or TriBeCa type names for areas of Manchester as they just seem too contrived. N/4 doesn't really work for me either... it's disingenuous.

AnonymousFebruary 17th 2011.

I'm not sure it even purports to be in the N/4, doesn't say so in the article. A teensy bit pedantic?

HmmmmmmFebruary 17th 2011.

I went into this place on Tuesday evening after initially walking straight back out after not really 'getting it' on Saturday night.

The range of beers does not sell this place enough to go back in my opinion. I've never felt unsatisfied by any range of beers anywhere else in the northern quarter and a place that specialises in these beers really falls short on the other key factor that a lot of 'proper beer' orientated pubs provide. Atmosphere.

The place is just a little too conscious of it's own styling for my liking.

I guess I am just not in that part of the market they may have been aiming for but I'd rather go to the marble arch and buy better beer and know there would be better atmosphere.

spendthriftFebruary 17th 2011.

Looks like a cousins showroom. Bit Pricey as well. Why can't someone open a winebar?

jackoffFebruary 18th 2011.


GuidoFebruary 18th 2011.

Great place had a great time there a couple of nights ago.

Neil ThorntonFebruary 18th 2011.

Was in last night.

The cask beers are too cold (and we had all of them). Need to sort that out fast. It's not a matter of taste; kept too cold it deprives a bitter of both it's flavour and body. Thins it out.

I thought the bottles list very good indeed, although way over-priced.

You'd think twice about a session in here.

Like the atmosphere, though, and agree on the 'no food' stance.

1 Response: Reply To This...
TwitchyAugust 27th 2011.

One of the reasons I keep on going back to PSBH week after week after week is that is is NOT a place to have a "session".

I hope people with the aim of going out to get trashed continue to go somewhere else so I can enjoy good beer served by knowledgeable staff in friendly, easy, surroundings.

M30February 18th 2011.

Not been in yet, although planning on checking it out, despite my fears it'll be an outpost of pretentiousness like it's cousin Common.

The Marble takes some beating though.

DibigoFebruary 18th 2011.

It's not Ancoats. It's Port Street.

jackoffFebruary 19th 2011.

EDITORIAL COMMENT: Jackoff, you're very persistent, why not argue your thoughts rather than an abrupt, crude insult?

BanesFebruary 19th 2011.

Chaps, let's be honest it ISN'T in Ancoats, an area which has never covered south of Great Ancoats St in it's rich and varied history (from it's 'industrial suburb' beginnings to the broader residential area which loops round the back of the retail park to the old Ancoats Hospital near New Islington).

And although 'Port St' is an accurate geographic locator it doesn't really count as an city centre neighbourhood or district, which is underselling an area with much history and much potential. Is it N4? Well seeing as that label is barely 15 or so years old we could argue it's still growing as the N4 ethos, audience and culture spreads but it seems a bit of a stretch. Newton St is the Eastern boundary for me.

Personally I think the area where Port St sits DOES deserve it's own identity as although it's been a nowhere place/rat-run/cut-through for so long a bit of a scene is building up around Hilton St/Fourways House/Port St/The basin with some nice residential development, great architecture, coffee shops, bars, pubs, galleries, interesting boutiques, creative businesses (not least inm Ducie House) and of course the mighty Kebabish and the time-defying Linda's Pantry.

I think any old-school East Manchester resident would just shrug and call that neck of the woods Piccadilly, but most people think of such a title defining the strip from the station to the gardens. Not sure Piccadilly Basin works either as the main action is not (yet) around the basin itself.

I do kind of like 'FaaQua' but not sure I can see that sticking (sounds a bit Shrek and weirdly also a bit Steve Martin). Then again I persisted with "Smithfield" and "New Cross" for years before finally caving in and letting N4 cross my lips but now it seems second nature...

Lee, NQMarch 5th 2011.

Love this place! Finally a pub in the Northern Quarter with a full range of and varied range of lagers and ales on draught. Particularly happy to see lots of German Weisse on draught. However, we're gonna keep coming back as long as the Fruh stays. Don't know of anywhere else that has this on draught in Manchester. Great place!

AnonymousMarch 17th 2011.

Great selection of bottled beers. As for anyone complaining that there are too many American beers, our American cousins do get a bad rap for the water that is Bud. Was particularly pleased to see Sam Adams. Was also refreshing to see Darkstar somewhere other than Sussex. Hey and who can complain when you can get Thornbridge on draft, which is always a beer festival sell out with Jaipur normally being up for a strong IPA type award. A great addition to Manchester city centre and a million times better than Lammars around the corner! Big thumbs up!

AnonymousMay 8th 2012.

Okay, so it's never had the best selection of beers in the city (despite its pretensions) but I've always recommended this place to people in the past as a place to stop by; maybe the decor played a bigger part than the drink.

I will NOT, however, be returning to this place after witnessing the sickening behaviour of the manager toward a customer whom he (much to the bemusement of everybody present, including his own staff) decided had consumed too much drink.

The reason for this bizarre decision? Was said patron swaying and being abusive? Erm, no. His friend was catching a train home and was buying him a parting drink, taking a sip before handing it over.

When the manager confronted the obviously-shaken and taken-aback patron at whom the accusations were laid, he received a polite (and obviously sober) response (backed by several witnesses) that only three drinks had been consumed. The manager ignored this, announced that he'd decided the patron had drunk too much and proceeded to ignore the polite, calm protests which followed, eventually deeming them 'aggressive' and calling in a bouncer to eject said patron.

It says a lot about the veracity of the manager's claims that the bouncer apologised, agreed that the patron was sober and proceeded to allow him to collect his belongings and wait for his friends (now all former PSBH customers due to their disgust at the incident.

To make matters worse, the patron who was ejected suffers from Generalised Anxiety Disorder (perhaps why he was singled out by the offending manager) and is traumatised by the event.

Any further phone calls or requests for information / a formal apology have been met with silence.

Port Street Beer House? Give it a miss.

AnonymousNovember 6th 2012.

Rude staff. I love the place apart from that.

M'ConMay 1st 2013.

I agree with the comment above about the staff being rude. One in particular who really shouldn't be working behind a bar.

They're getting like the Eastern Bloc staff did in the early nineties.

Grow up lads.

Colin EvansFebruary 1st 2014.

Never been to a place that so under delivered and yet the overall first impression of the bar and its stock was so over inviting. Not sure where all the cost furniture of older reviews are, upstairs is like a student common room complete with its occupants who are completely up themselves. Over priced and a poor substitute for places like Bar Fringe, Knott Bar and the Angel. I actually prefer the Oast House and you would think that would be arguably more prententious, but it serves a great product and the price is appropriate for the surroundings and what it's there for.

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