Food and Drink Survey 2014: The Year of Beer: Best Pubs and Breweries

Acknowledging beer's importance, we've rounded up the best pubs and breweries in Manchester and Liverpool according to you good folks – and added some epic beer choices and hangover advice to boot

Feature by Jamie Faulkner | 08 Jan 2014

Sometimes, sticking things together just makes sense. It truly was an auspicious day for humanity when they combined water, malt, hops and yeast, and realised that the resultant beverage was not half bad. So auspicious, in fact, that some scholars have claimed beer had a pivotal role in our development as a species. Others have even suggested that everyone's favourite biblical 950-year-old, Noah, loaded his ark with a primitive attempt at beer.

Many will have noticed that craft beer became a well-worn trope of 2013, as pub-goers across the country decided to turn their noses up at mass-produced ales and seek out more niche offerings – but this trend also either passed a lot of people by or was snubbed; a dichotomy reflected in your voting.

Marble Beers, Quantum and Tickety Brew were all singled out for their beer-making skills in Manchester. Marble have been on the brewing block since '97 and were flying the flag for small, independent brewers long before the new wave – their alumni have gone on to positions in Thornbridge, Buxton and Blackjack. Headed up by Jay Krause in Stockport, Quantum are really making a name for themselves, as are Tickety Brew, who have managed to get their bottles in just about every bar in Manchester. 

Unsurprisingly, Port Street Beer House made the cut for serving the most enviable or dauntingly incomprehensible beer range, depending on your persuasion – yet, the Castle Hotel, a Robinsons Brewery pub at heart, was overwhelmingly popular, perhaps more for its patronage by local musicians, atmosphere and bustling events programme rather than its ale selection. We say this only because Robinsons' range would be far from a craft beer nerd's wishlist, with RateBeer scores hitting middle-of-the-road, except for the lovely Old Tom. The ever-popular Marble Arch also made the list, stocking the aforementioned Marble's beers and serving up delicious grub.

Liverpool's now-defunct Cains Brewery garnered many votes despite closing with £8m worth of debt last year (the latest news is that the site set to be redeveloped as Cains Brewery Village, incorporating an artisan food market as well as a hotel, spa, cinema etc., with work starting within a year). Given the circumstances it only seems fair to mention another brewery in addition to Liverpool Organic Brewery, who got a healthy share of votes and still exist – so Liverpool Craft Beer Co. get a nod for their lovely brews that grace the pumps at Camp & Furnace, MelloMello and The Kazimier, among others.   

As for Liverpool's pubs, The Ship & Mitre lived up to its self-anointed title of 'Merseyside's Premier Real Ale Pub'. Well, at least in your eyes: they dropped off the Good Beer Guide's radar even while boasting one of the best ale selections in the city centre and opening their own bottleshop the Ship in a Bottle. Whether it's CAMRA's capriciousness or a drop in standards, that's not for us to judge – you made your voice heard, and you also showed your support for The Caledonia, which was saved from closure by a 3000-strong petition. Nothing like beer to get people voting.