At first glance, the opening of Port St. Beer House could have been seen as risky. Back in 2011, craft beer was no doubt on the up but not really expected to hit the ‘heady’ heights we see today. Nevertheless, the owners of NQ institution Common decided to branch out and haven’t looked back since.

A strange hybrid of local pub, city centre bar and quirky beer hall, Port St‘s unassuming UPVC door leads into a plethora of cosy corners and high tables with the holy grail directly ahead; a bar boasting a wide array of keg, cask and bottled beers accompanied by a smattering of carefully selected wine from Manchester’s own revered Hanging Ditch vino emporium.

When the place first opened it was an instantly popular place, pouring pint after pint of quality and interesting nectar at very reasonable prices. Yes, the odd super-strength delight crept onto the pumps at a higher rate but that’s only to be expected.

In recent years, more and more Meet The Brewer nights and themed beer bashes have taken place at Port St, who do a lot to promote local grog such as Blackjack, Cloudwater and Track alongside top gear from over the border like Thornbridge and Magic Rock and stuff from the very Northern and Southern tips of the country. Not being tied down to a single brewery never tasted so good.

Atmosphere-wise, Port St. screams what the NQ should be rather than what it’s become. It’s independent, friendly, and just as good for a swift half as it is for a serious beer scoring session. Encouraging folk from all walks of life, on any given visit you might encounter the local CAMRA crew, a couple of lone beardy porter warriors or a few students taking recommendations and getting involved in local brews. It may smell like a wet dog on a particularly rainy Friday night but that’s part of the charm as you scrum down at the bar wondering what the hell to pick from all the chalkboards.

The decor is often punctuated with local art whilst the large upstairs tables and booths are great for groups to shoot the shit over. Polished floors and more importantly polished toilets give Port St. a simple, yet professional air (note to other bars; you can still look very presentable without being elitist) and there’s even a little sun-trap beer garden out the back for those elusive outdoor drinking days.

A powerhouse for the Manchester brewing industry, Port St. has been responsible for more new beer introductions and, indeed, hangovers than we’d care to mention. And for that, we thank them.

Port St. Beer House

Classification: Beerhouse

Food: Bar snacks

Drinks: Beer, beer, beer, wine & spirits

Price: ££

Related City Centre establishments: Common

Bongo rating: 8/10