One of the reasons why I prefer Manchester over London is that there’s space to breathe. This applies to commuting and working and, more importantly, socialising. I like being able to walk into a pub without elbowing a swarm of city slickers. But that’s not to say Manchester is perfect. We need more bars. But not just any old bars. Good bars.
The Gasworks Brewbar is a Dockyard pub that’s not near water and it’s hoping to be First Street’s robust boozer, offering craft beer, burgers and all that comes with a good night out in Manchester. Being a Dockyard pub, there are certain things to expect; healthy portions, middle of the road prices, a selection of some local micro-breweries and a mix of events and entertainment.
What separates The Gasworks from the Media City and Spinningfields sites is an on-site brewery run by enthusiastic home-brewers. It will experiment with styles and on launch night it churned out an altogether decent Refractory Pale Ale.
The name and decor are inspired by Manchester’s industrial heritage and the site the old Gaythorn Gasworks pub is built on. And I can see that but it also feels like an amalgamation of several other city centre bars – wooden pallets for decor, safe food menu, craft and mass-produced beers on offer. Not bad, but just a bit uninspiring.
I can’t really put any blame on The Gasworks or its owners. This is a sturdy business model and will appeal to many but it feels like another wasted opportunity for First Street to demonstrate itself as an area not just for the established players. Whilst The Tiffin Room and The Liquor Store excel at their specialities, The Gasworks is a big old ‘jack of all trades’ that does the job, but isn’t the-place-to-go for anything in particular.
As I’ve said, let’s not stomp on The Gasworks. I slurped a few lovely pints of Shindigger’s Weiss beer and Track’s session IPA (served in a 2/3 glass so I don’t “warm the beer with my hand”). That’s all good in my book. It’s just all so slick, soulless and predictable. The Brink specialises in local beers, Alberts Schloss is bohemian bombast, Almost Famous do some of the best burgers ever. The Gasworks is a 21st Century gastropub rather than a ‘local pub’ as they describe it.
It will serve its purpose and serve it pretty well. But I can’t accept it as a local, exciting venue that draws on Manchester’s industrial heritage. It’s another Dockyard. Nothing new – or necessarily bad – to see here.