It’s bizarre to think that when you catch your train to work you could be travelling just metres above someone brewing beer or roasting coffee, but the spacious and inviting nature of the arches lend themselves perfectly to adaptation and imagination. And they’re perfect for anyone who thinks they can organise a piss-up in a brewery.
Here’s a round-up of some of our favourite railway arch dwellers.
The Redbank is a cool, eclectic venue which makes the most of its large interior and generous exterior. Whether it’s breakfast, homemade pizzas, Shindigger shenanigans, their photo studio or just booze, this place alone is a great reason to venture out to the Green Quarter. The benefit of being on the outskirts of the city centre (but just five minutes from the NQ) is that this is a place where you can bring 10 friends, find a comfortable spot inside or outside and just unwind. It’s like being at one of your own BBQ’s (if your back garden was a railway arch… you get the point).
Manchester Three Rivers Gin
Gin is the in thing at the moment, and no wonder when you’ve got local, small-batch, premium distillers on your doorstep. Three Rivers Gin produces a creamier, more rounded spirit compared to the old school, London giants, largely thanks to the inclusion of ingredients like almonds and oats. Once again, this space is not just a distillery, it’s a bar, gin school and laboratory where you can make your own gin!
Love cycling? Love coffee? Then Popup bikes should be your second home. This place is a homage to improvisation. Why just repair bikes and sell spares when you can also furnish locals and weathered cyclists with great coffee, toasties and snacks. This may be a million miles away from Piccadilly’s overflowing chains, but don’t be fooled, Popup bikes is popular and seats are finite. You do the math.
Out of the Green Quarter and over to Deansgate for local coffee roasters ManCoCo. This bijou space is ideal for those wanting to escape the noise of Deansgate, and with the roastery just metres from the cafe, you’ll go a long way to find a coffee that’s fresher. On a slightly odder note, ManCoCo have the nicest toilet in town. Go in and have a look. Some Fallowfield students would swap their flats for that loo.
Runaway make some of the best keg beers in Manchester at the moment. But this isn’t just any old brewery. It’s also home to GRUB’s monthly food fair which combines street food and DJs with Runaway’s delicious beer served just a stone’s throw from the place it was made. Other local microbreweries like Track and Squawk also host semi-regular brew taps proving that they, too, are capable of hosting a piss-up in a brewery.
Knott Bar is a pub with real character. Wander in on a Friday night and you’ll have to muscle your way to the bar but you’ll find it’s worth it when you see the selection of cask and keg beers on offer – and for very reasonable prices too. On those rare sunny days you’ll have to leg it upstairs to grab a table looking out over Deansgate and the massive Tetris block they call the Hilton.
Kitchen, bar, music venue, club – Gorilla does many things well. I’ve stumbled out of here at 3am only to return at 10am for their awesome brunch options. Catering for so many different needs isn’t easy, but Gorilla has managed to pull it off. It’s not just a good allrounder. It’s Freddie Flintoff pre-A League of Their Own.
Located in a railway arch just off Red Bank between the Green Quarter and Parker’s, a stone’s throw from the new Co-op building, this is a huge space where highly qualified instructors offer classes in a variety of martial arts as well as strength and conditioning. “People are amazed when they walk through the door because they don’t expect something this size. They don’t expect it to be this well-appointed or have this atmosphere because they think it’s just somewhere under a railway arch.” Free parking for members.
This place isn’t yet open for action and I’ve never been, but sometimes you can’t help but be sure that somewhere like this is going to be good. Sourdough is king at the moment and Pollen want to introduce us to the darker side of bread, something they’re confident we won’t have experienced before. Give these folks a follow and look out for developments.
Blackjack Brew Tap