Tag Team Champions: Cafe Beermoth and The City Arms

One pub is enough. One pub can be enough to spend a whole evening in, a whole day if wanted, as long as the scampi fries don’t run out and you have a few glasses of water every so often. Recently though I’ve found myself getting greedy and combining two pubs* together, following one with the other on most evenings out. Those two places are in Manchester, and are Cafe Beermoth and The City Arms.

Now both of these places are definitely enough on their own. Cafe Beermoth has a vast selection that’ll keep you drinking different beers from noon to late, and still not touch the bottle list. While The City Arms will get you talking to strangers and drunkenly taking pictures of the quotes on the walls long into the night. Over the past year or so though I began to notice a pattern forming, a pattern which I look forward to every week.

When arranging a few beers with mates we would inevitably choose Cafe Beermoth as the place to meet. It’s very central in Manchester, next to loads of transport links and is big enough where in the afternoon you’re pretty much safe that you’ll get a seat. Maybe you start with a pint of lager. Start clean. Wet the whistle a little. ‘Spezial is on, be rude not to.’ You then notice that pint of cask you’ve been after is on, so you have a few of them.

(Quick side note: I’ve told this to people and they are confused and surprised by it. At Cafe Beermoth the names of the beers and numbers correspond with the keg and cask lines below. 1-5 are the keg lines, 6-12 are the cask, and 13-17 are the keg lines again. I thought this was obvious but the amount of people I’ve told this too who think I’m bullshitting them is ridiculous. So if you didn’t know now you know. Anyway back to it.)

Choosing a beer at Cafe Beermoth is easy, yet difficult. Easy because you know they’ll be at least a handful of beers you wanna try, but hard because you won’t know which order you fancy um. Squinting at the beer list from your seat with an ‘Errmmmmm… pint of ‘Stone’s Throw’ please’, only to then be asked ‘What number is that?’ is a right of passage from Cafe Beermoth.
Before you know it though you’re now on the your third half, a European brewery you’ve heard about online but not seen their beer before, you’ve bumped into a few more people as they wander in off Market Street for a beer, and you’re eyeing up the bottle list. If like me your drunken bottle taste is a little too rich for your friends, and yourself to be honest, that’s quickly put back on the bar and you opt for some crisps instead.
It’s at this point the pattern continues, and some bright spark pipes up with ‘Could murder a Guinness right now’, which is basically code for ‘Lets go City Arms’.

Now I love Manchester, it is the best beer city in the UK, there’s no argument it just is. But nothing can be perfect, and a good pint of Guinness is severely lacking in the city centre. Yes people will tell you there favourite (mine being The Castle Hotel), but even then go to most places in Liverpool and you’ll get an amazing pint of the black stuff. 

Here in lies the pull of City Arms, for me anyway, it does do a very good pint of Guinness. Carefully poured, correct glass, jobs a good ‘un. 
So it’s settled and we all bum-shuffle out from our booth at Cafe Beermoth and take the very short walk over to The City Arms. It takes 5 minutes at most, but yet says there’s ten of us you can guarantee we’ll split up into 4 groups at least, and arrive at The City arms in waves. Scrambling to get a table round the back for all of us. Which we somehow usually succeed in as people are very kind and move around to fit us in, and any stragglers are sent on expeditions to other drinking groups asking ‘Is anyone sitting here?’ and coming back triumphant with stool in hand. 

With the call of ‘Could murder a Guinness right now’ still ringing in my ears, that’s my go to at The City Arms when I’m already three sheets to the wind. City Arms has amazing, well kept cask on at all times mind, this is just my own drinking habits recently though, and a fair few of the people I drink with too. Give me pints of bangin’ cask, German lager, local pale ales, as much as you want. I’ll take it all. But sometimes I don’t wanna think. Sometimes I just want to have a moreish palate cleanser that, and I’m stealing this from a tweet I saw once, tastes of everything and nothing at the same time, and that’s Guinness. It also has the added extras of being the best looking pint available, and I can annoy and bore my friends with the Guinness Game at every chance too.

The Guinness at The City arms hits different though. It just can’t stay in the glass. No matter how hard I try I simply have to bang through one in minutes. It’s ridiculous. It also sends at least one of you to the bar to come back with two hands full of Scampi Fries and Bacon Fries for everyone (both veggie btw). After a couple pints of Guinness though you want something with a little more substance , and here is where The City Arms cask range comes into it’s own. Eight casks lines of only good shit. You can’t really miss. Plum Porter is a favourite of my partner, and she gets it every time. I’ll never not order a Feckless, Pavo or Sonoma, and you can usually find at least one of them on. You’ll be alright pint wise any time.
It’s the, dare I say it, cramped architecture of The City Arms that is a big part of it’s charm. You’ll always end up saddled next to a stranger. Only the other week some old lads sat and chatted to me about the Icelandic singer/songwriter they has just seen play live. Before that strangers have taken our picture for us, shuffled up to make room, recommended us a beer, the list goes on, and that’s how the night goes. A myriad of groups, couples, shoppers, boozers, gig-goers, politicians, musicians etc etc all piling in for a good beer at a cosy pub.
And that’s also how the nights end. The Guinness drank too easily and the crisps weren’t enough to soak up the day’s worth of pints. Everyone goes there separate ways after another full day at Cafe Beermoth and The City Arms. Very contented and very drunk.

It’s not just the beer and the, for last of a better term, vibes at Cafe Beermoth and The City Arms that make them such a good combo, the staff at both are amazing.
Welcoming to all, knowledgable to the point that just asking them what’s good is more than enough of a guarantee of a good beer, and they have the patience of saints. Drunken people are annoying at the best of times, this may be hard to believe but I’ve even been an annoying drunk person my self on occasion, we all have. The staff at Cafe Beermoth and The City Arms deal with it with grace and just get on with it, keeping the booze flowing.
(This is obviously true of  staff at most bars and pubs, I just wanted highlight these two places especially as I frequent them and have seen their mint service so many times.)
Pubs need to be safe spaces for all too, and I’ve seen on multiple occasions staff from both places challenging customers and asking them to leave when their behaviour is unacceptable.
I even got a pint thrown in my face at one of them a few months from a particular arsehole, but that’s a story for another time. The staff were amazingly helpful though and dealt with the situation quickly and calmly. It thankfully didn’t escalate any further thanks to them and the man was kicked out.
This stuff matters though and is another big reason why Cafe Beermoth and The City Arms have become my go to tag team of boozers over the past year or so.
It can’t just be the beer than brings you back to a place time and time again. Separately they give you more than you could need, offering separates feels and experiences.
Put together though they are the stuff that boozy dreams are made of.

If you have two boozers you frequent as a tag team let us know.

*Ok one might be a bar but for the sake of simplicity ill just be saying two pubs.

Words and pictures by Ross

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