Manchester is a city that recycles space well: from old mills into new-build apartments and art spaces (Vulcan Mill and Islington Mill respectively), underground railway arches into expensive rave venues (Warehouse Project (yes, I did just call it a rave, and no, I am not old)), and disused M.O.T. garages into music spaces (The White Hotel).
Where there’s space, a hoard of creative people are setting up shop. So too is this the case on Sheffield Street, a short road of railway arches just east of Piccadilly Station, that has been re-used as places for tasty food, drink, and mixed martial arts should you so get the inclination.
Cloudwater Barrel Store Tap Room
Closest to Piccadilly, and probably the most established little venture on the strip, is Cloudwater Brewery’s tap room. The Brewery has a selection of between eight and ten beers on at any one time, all of which abide by their modern, seasonal beer ethos.
Each beer is £3, and you’ll get this in either a 1/2 pint or 2/3 pint glass, depending on the alcohol content. Should you get hungry, bread baskets are available with a mixture of oils and olives, the former of which is sourced from Pollen Bakery just a few doors down.
Drinking in the tap room is lovely, and while the space is cavernous, with long tables filling the centre of the corrugated iron-lined arch, and huge racks of ageing casks lining the walls, the music, festoon lighting and selection of blankets makes the it a cosy place to sit and drink.
Open from Thursday to Sunday at varying hours, see their website for more details.
At the end of the row, Pollen is a small-scale bakery and Viennoiserie run by Hannah Calvert and Chris Kelly. Having opened just over a year ago, Pollen now supplies restaurants and cafes around Manchester, as well as opening its doors each week to sell beautiful loaves and pastries to hungry punters.
All of their bread is sour dough, and is left to prove for at least 28 hours before being baked so that it, as the owners say, “unlocks all the nutrients it has locked away, develop great flavour and also makes [their] bread more digestible.”
As well as a variety of loaves, Pollen also specialise in pastries, with croissants, cruffins (mix between croissant and muffin — totally delicious), brownies, sweet and savoury tarts, all on sale for reasonable prices. The only downside to Pollen is that it’s hugely popular, meaning you have to get down as it opens to be in with a chance of securing a pastry!
Open from Wednesday to Saturday at varying hours, see their website for more details.
Track Brewing Company
Something of Cloudwater’s understudy in terms of size, Track Brewing Company’s space is mainly used for brewing, and becomes a makeshift tap room just two evenings a week. This is not to say, however, that it doesn’t warrant commendation, and what it lacks in size, it makes up for in price, taste and fun.
While you pay a deposit for your glass, Track’s selection of beers are cheaper and, may I say so myself, tastier than Cloudwater’s, with their Mosaic IPA especially crisp and fruity. Track also seems to be less busy than Cloudwater, and has a ping-pong table set in amongst the fermenters, which makes for a fun pastime while sipping beers that were made not two feet away.
Open on Friday and Saturday evenings only, see their website for more details.