pubs real ale

A really soulless pub

Rain Bar is J W Lees flagship Manchester pub. It’s on the canalside in a former umbrella factory, hence the name. (Or is it a reference to Liam Gallagher’s first band?)

You get the impression from online reviews that this is supposed to be a trendy place but it reminded us a bit of a slightly posh Wetherspoon’s. With it’s big glossy printed menus, plasticky polished wood and evident compliance with some kind of corporate service standard manual, it’s a good example of pub with no real character.

It did give us a good opportunity to compare J W Lees Bitter and Best Bitter  The former was was extremely refreshing with a crisp, slightly tart finish; the latter, as you might expect, had more hop character and a bigger, rounder brown malt flavour. Both are good solid brews that we’d happily drink loads of if we lived here.

We’d just drink them somewhere else.

On the subject of character, and while we’re in the area, does anyone know anything about this amazing looking pub building across the road from Rain Bar?

11 replies on “A really soulless pub”

Aww, I quite liked Rain Bar in a superpubby sort of way. Tandleman can probably tell you about Pevril of the Peak. It’s not as spectacular inside. I recall drinking some wonky Everards Tiger and having to yell above the loud music, despite being 50% of the pub’s customers at the time.

The Peveril of the Peak is, I believe, named after a stagecoach, which took its name from the Walter Scott novel. It’s a former Wilsons pub that for many years was in the Good Beer Guide. It has an interesting multi-roomed interior, but as the Beer Nut says, not really on a par with the exterior. It’s a throwback to the old days of Manchester city-centre drinking before all the new pubs and bars opened.

I always thought the Rain Bar trod an uneasy line between brewery flagship and attempted style bar. Some of Holts’ new city-centre pubs, in particular the Ape and Apple, are more straightforward and down-to-earth, and all the better for it.

The Rain Bar is a strange one and not often included when crawling Manchester. And that’s not just because it sells Lees! It seems to mainly get business from visitors and people from the nearby hotel wanting a quick meal.

Curmudgeon is right about the origins of the Peveril. Inside it benefits from its multi-toom layout and is, I think, one of the pubs to really benefit from the smoking ban. Most importantly it usually has well kept Golden Pippin amongst the wickets on the bar.

We hovered around outside the Peveril taking photos for a few minutes but, partly because we didn’t hear a sound or see anyone come or go, we assumed it was no longer trading as a pub. We certainly didn’t hear any loud music pumping out.

On a cricket trip to Manchster some years back we were banned from entering the Rain Bar due to my friend wearing shorts. Having just been outside on a baking hot day at Old Trafford this seemed rather unfriendly so instead we had a pleasant pint at the Peveril.

I generally take the view that if somewhere refuses you entry for some churlish reason then it’s better to give it a miss.

Yes, i think its appeal does increase in the summer due to its large outdoor area-rare in Manchester. Loud music doesn’t sound like the Pev-in fact, out of term time, if anything it can be too quiet.

Jonathan — I very much agree! The dress code is usually a passive-aggressive mechanism for expressing some other kind of prejudice, e.g. around age, gender, attractiveness, ethnicity… If I have to wear special shiny shoes to enter a place, unless it’s for work, I’ll just go somewhere else instead.

Fullers tried something similar with their “Fine Line” bars. There was one on Kingsway and another on Northcote Road in Wandsworth, and doubtless a few others too.

I generally take the view that if somewhere refuses you entry for some churlish reason then it’s better to give it a miss.

Surely the decision on that one (whether or not to give it a miss) has been made for you, as they’ve said you can’t come in?

Last time I was in the Pev I had a pint of Golden Pippin – as Tandleman says, well kept – but wasn’t too impressed with the rest of the selection. The best thing about the Pev is probably the table football in the middle of one main room and the pool table in the other, if that’s your sort of thing.

In that part of town you’re just round the corner from the Briton’s Protection, or the Knott Bar at the other end of Deansgate Locks, which is a much better prospect.

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