Welcome to the second edition of Raising the Bar – a fortnightly review of an establishment that a beer fan (such as yourself) should really pay a visit to. Each entry in the series will lay out why said place should be on your beery agenda, giving the key factors as to why these venues are so special.
Café Beermoth – Manchester
A Brussels beer café is a beautiful thing. Delicately placed Lambic baskets, delightfully smelly cheese boards and all varieties of beers from the vast rainbow of delicious styles Belgium is known for – all situated inside a beautiful continental-style building. Truly what beer-lovers dreams are made of.
If for whatever reason you can’t make a trip over to the continent though, Café Beermoth is an excellent alternative. Which is high praise indeed.
Just a few minutes walk from Manchester Piccadilly station, a recent lunchtime visit in December did wonders for the soul. After battling through the cold and the Christmas market crowds, the warm, welcoming interior and hop adorned bar ceiling instantly gives the place the feel it’s aiming for. On entry, a window into the cellar greets you from the back bar; and to the left of your eyeline is a mighty impressive bottle store, containing a world tour de force of brews from Belgium, The States, Scandinavia and beyond with a distinctively sour backbone. So far, so ouid.
Café Beermoth’s tap and bottle list is a thing of beauty for two reasons. They’ve obviously created an homage to the Belgian beer café, yes – but part of the beer café charm is its local feel. Here is no exception, however in this instance the locality is England and not Belgium. The sour beer bottle showcase stands side-to-side with a traditional English cask selection and an American-influenced keg list. Pints of the likes of Redemption, Wylam, Hawkshead and more sustain the cask list, whilst famously heavily-hopped breweries such as Stone and Verdant are available on keg. This may sound like a bastardisation (apologies for the Stone-ism) of the initial Belgian-vibe – but it works. The casks give the bar a local feel; with the pints on offer no doubt pulling in a certain crowd to a venue they may otherwise have given a miss. The kegs add a further element; bringing a dimension of beery-zeitgeist into what could otherwise be a more rustic affair without them. There’s something for everyone without succumbing to ‘jack-of-all-trades’ syndrome.
On time of visit, the bottle selection read a who’s who of the sour beer world. The likes of Cantillon, Tilquin and Fantôme flew the flag for Belgium; Crooked Stave, The Bruery, Almanac and Prairie punched high for the USA and from these shores – Kernel, Wild Beer Co. and Thornbridge represented England. And if those names weren’t impressive enough, these were backed up with a supporting cast of Swedish, Norwegian, Canadian and even Swiss breweries – all kept in a temperature-controlled room to ensure maximum deliciousness.
The final key component of any beer café champion is the food though. And with a punchy selection of boards to choose from (a cheese board, a meat board, two meat and cheese duos and even a fish board), the place truly holds its own in the cuisine department for sharers, with the bar team more than delighted to recommend the best beery partner to go with your plate of choice.
It’s hard not to wax lyrical about Café Beermoth, it invokes both positive vibes and memories. Somewhere that takes the best of Belgium and splices it with contrasting, yet vital, sections of the current British beer scene to great effect will likely have a soft spot in the hearts of most beer drinkers. Be sure to find your way here soon for a unique experience of Belgium, this side of The Channel.
Why you should visit in a sentence: A Belgian beer café experience with a twist.
Where – 40a Spring Gardens, Manchester, M2 1DA. 10 minute walk from Manchester Piccadilly.
Selection on day of visiting – 7 cask beers, 10 keg beers and a bottle selection to die for.
Draft – Stone – Vengeful Spirit. Stone have been somewhat hit and miss as of late, but this tropical-themed IPA feels like a return to form for the craft beer stalwarts.
Bottle – Kernel – Biere De Saison aged with Raspberries. Although some of Belgium and beyond’s best was on offer, it was a Bermondsey beer that impressed most on visiting. The Godfathers of the London scene have brewed up another bottle of near-perfection with this one.
Food Menu – Sharers galore to match your beer of choice, with meat boards, cheese boards and a lesser-spotted fish board to keep you full.
Price of an average beer – Cask – £3.90 (Pint). Keg – £4.35 (2/3rds)