Contrary to popular belief, Manchester does attract sunshine once in a while – for over 1,000 hours a year , according to one source (and you can probably double that for 2018). And what better way to enjoy them than in one of the many beer gardens in Manchester, lapping up the sun’s rays while enjoying a fine ale in the company of friends?
Now, when we say beer gardens, we’re not talking about the behemoth biergartens of Bavaria, so don’t get your lederhosen in a twist. These are some of our favorite places to drink outdoors in Manchester. Some big, some small and all better with a belly full of beer.
Here are our picks
The Briton’s Protection, 50 Great Bridgewater St, Manchester, Greater Manchester, M1 5LE - Visit now
The Briton’s Protection, close to The Bridgewater Hall, is Manchester’s oldest pub. It feels suitably historic, stocks around 300 whiskies, a good choice of local ales and is a popular place with musicians (we’ve heard rumors about certain performers nipping in for a cheeky pint mid-performance). The beer garden is reasonably spacious and traps the sun for most of the day.
Rain Bar, 80 Great Bridgewater Street, Manchester, Greater Manchester, M1 5JG - Visit now
This huge three-floor pub, formerly a Victorian warehouse, then an umbrella factory (hence the name), has one of the city centre’s largest beer gardens. The two-tier terrace overlooks the Rochdale canal and what used to be the back of the Hacienda, providing an unusual, historic view of the city. Rain Bar’s food menu of traditional pub fodder can be enjoyed outside, while barbecues are also available for special functions.
HOME Manchester, 2 Tony Wilson Place, Manchester, Greater Manchester, M15 4FN - Visit now
We love HOME. The cinema programme is second to none, the exhibitions and theatre are daring and the pizza is just as good as it ever was at Cornerhouse. Okay, so it’s not really a beer garden and it’s definitely not a pub, but the downstairs bar opens up onto First Street and has a great choice of drinks. On sunny days, there’s no better place to be than slumped in one of their deckchairs, soaking up the sun.
Cask, 29 Liverpool Road, Manchester, Greater Manchester, M3 4NQ
In Castlefield, but without the canal-side vista, is this bricked-in outdoor area at one of the most laid back pubs in town – one, it should be noted, with an excellent selection of continental beers. The beer garden isn’t fancy, but it does the job, with lots of seating packed in.
Mr Thomas’s Chop House, 52 Cross St, Manchester, Greater Manchester, M2 7AR - Visit now
Mr Thomas’s Chop House first opened in 1870. It has beautiful arches and Victorian tiling, does classic British cooking and has an excellent wine list. Also, around the back there’s a cracking outdoor drinking area.
The Oast House,
The Avenue Courtyard
Spinningfields, Manchester, Greater Manchester, M3 3AY - Visit now
A reasonable stumble from Tom’s Chop House is a rustic Kentish Oast House (that’s a traditional hop-drying shed, of course) plunked down amidst the glass and steel corridors of Spinningfields.
18 Castle Street
Castlefield, Manchester, Greater Manchester, M3 4LZ - Visit now
An outdoor BBQ runs during the summer; the canalside courtyard is mobbed when the sun shines. We particularly recommend a quiet pint outside if the weather is fine. It’s the perfect spot to sit and ponder while trams and trains rattle overhead, the vast Victorian viaduct looks impassively down, and canal boats glide quietly by.
Port Street Beer House, 39-41 Port Street, Manchester, Greater Manchester, M1 2EQ - Visit now
Port Street has a tiny outdoor space around the back and a couple of tables at the front. As we said at the start, it’s not the size that matter, it’s the beer. You’ll struggle to find a better choice of ales in Manchester.
Terrace NQ, 43 Thomas Street, Northern Quarter, Manchester, Greater Manchester, M4 1NA
High above Thomas Street is a spacious beer garden, one of the nicest places to sink a pint in the Northern Quarter sunshine.
Bar Fringe, 8 Swan Street, Manchester, Greater Manchester, M4 5JN
Situated on the edge of the Northern Quarter, away from the raucous weekend scrum, Fringe is a Belgian-style bar where luminous orange draught cider flows as regularly as strong Trappist treats. Out back, the cobbled beer garden offers a secluded break from the surrounding dual carriageways. Look out for the hand-shaped tree overhead, and barrel of fish. While bench space is limited, there’s always the option to grab a keg and form your own garden furniture.
The Pilcrow, The Pilcrow, Sadler’s Yard, Hanover Street, NOMA, Manchester, Greater Manchester, M60 0AB - Visit now
Beer gardens don’t get much better than The Pilcrow’s. Based in Sadler’s Yard in the fast-developing NOMA district of the city, around Victoria Station, this is an elegant space, with a relaxed Scandinavian feel.
Marble Arch Pub, 73 Rochdale Road, Manchester, Greater Manchester, M4 4HY - Visit now
It’s not the biggest outdoor drinking space in the world, but it’s a nice one and the beer here is so bloody good that we’re willing to overlook this. These guys were doing real ale before the Carhartt-clad crews got their first triangle tattoo.
The Beech, 72 Beech Rd, Manchester, M21 9EG
If you fancy moving out of town, jump on the Metrolink and head to Chorlton. While the residents are often lampooned as the “liberal urban elite”, you cannot argue with the choice of watering holes on offer. You’ll find us at The Beech, slowly moving across the beer garden, avoiding the long shadows and chasing the late evening sun.