Eat + Drink

Kick Back with a Cold One at These 10 Quintessential Manchester Pubs

When it comes to pulling up a stool and settling in for a frothy beer, you can’t do much better than the vibrant pub scene found in jolly old Manchester, England. While the historic community may be known the world over for its beloved football club, it’s Manchester’s watering holes that are the true gems of the city.

From classic spots to quirky favorites, here are 10 of the most quintessential pubs Manchester has to offer when you’re gaggin’ for a good time.

The Marble Arch Inn

Recently celebrating its 20th anniversary, The Marble Arch Inn has been called Manchester’s finest pub, and for good reason. Housed in a brick building constructed in 1888, this is a traditional British pub in every respect and has numerous accolades to show for it.

Take in the smell of hops and barley while you order a beer straight from their eclectic and wide-ranging in-house brewery. Some of the brews even find their way into the pub’s tasty grub (see: beer-marinated steak). And if all those pints aren’t filling enough, be sure to check out Marble’s impressive selection of artisan cheese.

The Britons Protection

Taking its name from the building’s one-time use as an army recruitment center, the Britons Protection holds the distinction of being Manchester’s oldest pub (though its exact debut year is murky).

What’s clearer, however, is its stellar reputation for unfiltered “real” ales and a gargantuan whiskey selection containing more than 200 varieties. Take in a show before or after your drink, as the Protection is located across the street from famed concert venue Bridgewater Hall.

Peveril of the Peak

Named after the classic 1822 English novel, a visit to Peveril of the Peak (endearingly dubbed “The Pev”) is like taking in a great story, as it is both rich in detail (eye-popping stained glass above a lush brown bar) and easy to digest (taps dispensing traditional British beer).

Its antique decor and worn wooden benches are also clues of its deep history, as Peveril has prevailed to become another one of the oldest pubs Manchester has to offer.

The Crown and Kettle

Manchester pubs
The Crown & Kettle is said to have the most beautiful ceiling in the city. (Photo: Alamy)

With an interior a member of the Royal family would feel a home in, the Crown and Kettle’s gorgeous digs boast a ceiling the Manchester Evening News called the most beautiful in the city.

Take a gander at the unique selection of libations once you’re done gawking, the crown jewel of which is an extensive rundown of cider. Did we mention there’re also eight casks on rotation, as well? Even Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth would be intrigued.

The Castle Hotel

A hotel in name only that’s located in Manchester’s Northern Quarter, the Castle Hotel has been serving up pints for thirsty revelers since the late 18th century.

While it’s survived multiple iterations since, the Castle’s rich character hasn’t wavered, from its vibrant music scene featuring both a rousing jukebox and busy calendar of live performances down to its Instagram-worthy mosaic floors. While you’re drinkin’ and rockin’, don’t forget to order up some of their classic pickled eggs, as well.

The Angel

If you’re on the hunt for craft libations and gastropub fare, look no further than The Angel. Found in Manchester’s Northern Quarter, this cherubically named spot is keen on not only hard-to-find craft beers, but cider and cask ales, as well.

Yet another old Manchester standby (its first iteration opened around 1806), The Angel also boasts a classic menu of everything from Welsh Rarebit (which essentially is creamy cheese on toast) and the English dessert favorite Sticky Toffee Pudding.

Port Street Beer House

Found on the eponymous Port Street, this watering hole is as if a beer lover died and ascended to a very frothy heaven. Famous for an astounding list of both international and local varieties, the Beer House also boasts insightful brewer takeover nights.

Pro tip: If you’re planning a visit, head to their website and sign up for a membership program that has perks like 10-percent discounts. Cheers to that.

The Molly House

Manchester pubs
The LGBT-friendly Molly House is a popular haunt. (Photos: Alamy)

Derived from a general term used to describe prosecution-free meeting places for gay men in 18th century England, the Molly House is a unique pub that currently serves not only as a popular LGBT hangout, but also as a general hotspot where all are welcome.

While the Molly House doles out real ales and beer, it also has tea and wine if you’re in the mood. Throw in an inspired Spanish tapas menu, and you have one of Manchester’s more unique watering holes.

Smithfield Market Tavern

This small Northern Quarter spot is the home bar of Manchester’s Blackjack Brewery, with its impressive selection of craft beers dominating the menu. Take into account its tasty bar snacks and non-beer libations (mulled wine for those cold Manchester nights!) and you have yourself a pub worthy of a visit.

In fact, make The Smithfield a part of a Northern Quarter crawl: The aforementioned Crown and Kettle and The Angel establishments are just a stone’s throw away.

The Circus Tavern

Step right up to one of the tiniest bars in all of Europe! Portland Street’s Circus Tavern dates back to the 1700s and has an untouched interior that’s usually teeming with rugby fans.

With only room for 45 patrons and a traditional menu of frothy beer, the Circus Tavern is a historic experience in the most intimate of surroundings.