The second part of our in-ciders guide to finding the good stuff this summer
It all began with a Twitter conversation about places to drink in Ancoats and ended with a cider map of Manchester. Dick Withecombe loves cider. He loves it so much he's created another handy map of the best bars, pubs and restaurants serving the proper stuff, this time for all of Greater Manchester (we've embedded it below). The rest is Dick...
Manchester is snapping at Bristol’s heels for the UK's City of Cider crown. Who says? That’s the claim in the latest issue of Imbibe Magazine, one of the UK’s leading publications for on-trade drinks professionals.
The catalyst? Hogans Cider, Manchester's Cider Map, plus a number of savvy Manchester craft beer bars. The turning point for many came when Manchester street food gang Grub teamed up with Hogans to host the Fairfield Cider Fête in 2018 - a resounding success and now an annual event.
Do you remember what it was like years ago when you ordered wine in pubs? You had a choice of sweet or dry, and most of it was unpalatable. That’s what it was like for a cider drinker until recently. Cider was unfashionable, poorly labelled and 90% of the stuff sold in pubs were crap industrial ciders, full of sugar and very little apple juice.
But now, well as Gabe ‘The Ciderologist’ Cook said recently on The Sunday Brunch TV show: “whisper it quietly, but this Cider thing is all about to kick off”.
The flavours of authentic craft cider are diverse and complex. With wild fermentations so in vogue, contemporary craft cider appeals to both craft beer drinkers and natural wine lovers.
As the editors of the new drinks magazine, Pellicle, say: "To us, the worlds of craft beer, natural wine, low-intervention cider—or whatever you like to call them—are as similar as they are different.”
Think of it like the craft beer revolution 10-15 years ago. That’s where cider is today. And Manchester is leading the way as drinkers are beginning to discover some of the fine ciders, the wild ferment natural ciders and modern craft ciders that are now available.
It really is time to #RethinkCider.
In the short time since the Manchester Cider Map was published the Cider Revolution in Manchester has been rocket fuelled. The Crown & Kettle has a year of monthly cider clubs in its diary (#McrCiderClub), The Smithfield Tavern boasts a world-class cider selection, and every brewery tap in Manchester now stocks craft cider, including Beer Nouveau stocking Ross on Wye Cider, and Cloudwater Taproom with Tom Olivers world-renowned fine cider.
Micro bars and bottle shops across the whole of Greater Manchester are stocking quality craft ciders too - and now we have the Greater Manchester Cider Map (an improvement on the original map here)
Central Manchester's best real cider spots:
The Crown and Kettle, 2 Oldham Rd, M4 5FE, Facebook - Home of the monthly #McrCiderClub and one of the finest cider nars in the North West.
The Smithfield Tavern, 37 Swan St, M4 5JZ website - A chiller full of bottles of Fine Ciders. Central Manchester CAMRA Cider Pub of the Year.
CASK, Ancoats, Cottonfield Wharf, 2 New Union St, M4 6FQ - A range of cider and perry from Ross on Wye Cider and Perry company, on tap and in bottles.
The Brink, 65 Bridge St, M3 3BQ, website - A full range of local ciders including from Dunham Press Cider.
GRUB, Baring Street, M1 2AD website - Probably the best place in Manchester to sit, relax and drink quality cider; with wonderful street food to match.
Cloudwater Tap Room – Unit 9 Piccadilly Trading Estate, M1 2NP website - Now sells Tom Oliver dry Fine Cider.
Beer Nouveau, 75 N Western St, M12 6DY website - Natural wild ferment ciders and perry from Ross Cider.
A cider tour of Greater Manchester (a meandering anti-clockwise route):
Bunburys, 397 Chorley Old Road, BL1 6AH, Facebook - A wonderful bar of curious craft beer drinkers who have fully embraced #RethinkCider – a full range of cider and perry from Ross on Wye Cider and Perry.
Beer School, 88 Market Street, Westhoughton, BL5 3AZ, website - Cider enthusiasts who visited Herefordshire to learn from the cider makers and came back with a wonderful selection of quality cider for their week long Cider Festival starting June 7th, part of Bolton CAMRA Beer and Cider Week.
Wigan Central Real Ale and Cider Bar, Arch No. 1 & 2, Queen Street, WN3 4DY, website - Wigan CAMRA Cider Pub of the Year and another bar team recently returned from Ciderland with a full car! Cider tasting 15th May.
Two Left Feet Tap, Stable Centre Haigh Hall, Copperas Ln, Haigh, WN2 1PE Facebook - Set in the middle of Haigh Woodland Park, a superb setting for a Cider on a hot summers day.
The Grocers Micro Pub, 152A Liverpool Road, Cadishead, M44 5DD, facebook - Very cider knowledgeable bar manager.
The Northern Type, 20 Church Street, Eccles, M30 0DF, facebook - Fine Ciders and Perry by renowned Tom Oliver and others from the Fine Cider Co.
Prairie Schooner Taphouse, 33 Flixton Rd, Urmston, Manchester M41 5AW website
Sip Club, living room with a licence, 164A Barton Road, M32 8DP website
Pi (Altrincham), 18 Shaw's Rd, WA14 1QU facebook
The Font, 115-117 Manchester Rd, M21 9PG website - Trafford and Hulme CAMRA Cider Pub of the Year. A wonderful youthful bar and a superb example of #RethinkCider.
The Beagle, 456-458 Barlow Moor Rd, Chorlton, M21 0BQ, website
The Font, Chorlton
Reasons to be Cheerful, 228 Fog Ln, Manchester M20 6EL, website
Nordie, 1044 Stockport Rd, M19 3WX facebook
Station Hop, 15 Stockport Rd, M19 3BS facebook
Heaton Hops, 7 School Ln, Stockport SK4 5DE website
Bottle, 9 Shaw Rd, Stockport SK4 4AG facebook - Yet another bottle shop bar with a very cider knowledgeable bar manager.
Petersgate Tap, 19 St Petersgate, SK1 1EB, facebook - Stockport and South Manchester CAMRA’s Cider Pub of the Year. A bar staff who take pride in their knowledge about cider and who keep their ciders and perry at a perfect temperature – cellar cool, not too cold.
Grove Alehouse Micro Bar, 145 London Rd, Hazel Grove, SK7 4HH, facebook
Beer Traders, 113 Stockport Rd, Marple, Stockport SK6 6AF, website
Beer Shed, 49 Market St, SK22 4AA facebook
Harvey Leonards, The Old Conservative Club, 22 Norfolk St, SK13 8BS, website - This wonderful wine merchant and craft beer bar has recently introduced fine ciders onto its superb wine shelves. Brannland wine like cider from Sweden, the excellent sweet Hazy Ways from Little Pomona, and Tom Olivers fine cider and perry.
TAMESIDE (the new Cider Capital of Greater Manchester)
Stalybridge Buffet Bar, Platform 4, Stalybridge Railway Station, Rassbottom St, SK15 1RF, website - Always a local cider and quality authentic cider on tap and now a new cider chiller full of fine ciders from Ross on Wye Cider and Perry, and Pilton Cider.
Beerhouses Pubs Cider Rail Trail out into Yorkshire website - The whole group of Beerhouses Pubs along the famous rail line Ale Trail are now stocking up with ciders after the success of cider at its flagship Stalybridge Buffet Bar.
Browtons Beer and Cider Parlour and Bottle Bar, 8 Fletcher Street, Ashton-Under-Lyne, Lancashire, England, OL6 6BY website - In this tiny drinking den you will find some of the Finest Ciders in Manchester, many unavailable elsewhere.
Silly Country, Droylsden, 121 Market St, M43 7AR facebook - High Peak and NE Cheshire CAMRA Cider Pub of the Year.
Manchester's best cider events:
Monthly #McrCiderClub at The Crown and Kettle - Meets on the second Thursday of each month. (details on attached PDF).
Cider Tasting and Cider Bar at Runaway Brewery’s Big 5th Birthday Bash - As part of their Birthday celebrations Runaway are organising a special weekend 25th to 26th May with guest bars, including a Cider Bar. On Saturday May 25th 3.30pm there will be a special cider tasting - see facebook and eventbrite.
Fairfield Cider Fete - May 26th - Manchester's only dedicated craft cider festival. Over 90 ciders created by over 20 producers to Fairfield Social Club for a guaranteed good time bank holiday Sunday - see facebook and eventbrite.
Party in the Orchard at Dunham Press Cider - June 29th - A cask and keg beer bar, lots of cider, street food and music and family entertainments. Dunham Cider Press, Boundary Farm, Sawpit Street, Altrincham, WA14 5SJ - more here.
Launch of Full Juice, a new cider magazine - July 11th - A new magazine for #RethinkCider edited by Gabe Cook, the Ciderologist; Phil Brown, renowned drinks writer; cider photographer Bill Bradshaw, and Susanna Forbes of Little Pomona Cider. The Manchester launch will be at The Crown and Kettle, with Susanna and Gabe and a tasting of some of their favourite ciders.
Salford Independent Beer Festival #ISBF6, October 31st - Talk and Tasting of Cider/Beer crossover flavours curated by Susanna Forbes of Little Pomona Cider with guest speakers - facebook.
Follow Dick's natural cider and perry mission on Twitter @Ashton1848
Main image credit: Fairfield Social Club