Lockdown has eased and we’ve got a whole season of catching up to do – safely distanced, naturally. And what better place than the classic British beer garden? Outdoor drinking and dining is safer than indoor, so it makes sense that we’ll flock to the venues with the best beer gardens and outdoor drinking areas.
Reopening hasn’t been viable for many pubs, sadly, but certain pubs and bars in Manchester either have a quality, spacious beer garden, or have hit the location jackpot and discovered an outdoor space that can be repurposed for casual outdoor drinks.
Many come with heat lamps and umbrellas to combat the worst excesses of the unpredictable UK weather, but ideally, we want the weather to be sunny and warm for as long as possible so we can make the most of outdoor drinking while distancing restrictions are in place. If anyone knows the number of the Greek god in charge of weather, drop him a line.
This is our best option for the time being, and all things going well it could pan out a lot better than we dared imagine back in early springtime. If you’re looking for an outside drink this summer (and autumn too) then the pubs listed below come both with a top-quality beer garden and highly recommended.
Here are our picks
The Briton’s Protection, 50 Great Bridgewater St, Manchester, Greater Manchester, M1 5LE - Visit now
Ask anyone who knows anything about Manchester pubs and they’ll soon start waxing lyrical about The Briton’s Protection. It’s one of the oldest pubs in Manchester – if not the oldest pub – and it has a magnificent, sun-trapping outdoor space to sit and enjoy beers and whiskies with friends. Highly, highly recommended for all you beer garden connoisseurs.
The New Oxford, 11 Bexley Square, Salford, Manchester, M3 6DB - Visit now
Bexley Square is at the heart of Salford’s most fast-growing and desirable area and it’s also home to The New Oxford. It’s a classic old-school pub with a vast range of drinks to enjoy on benches outside. Expect cheerful staff, friendly punters and enough open space to enjoy the sun when its out – plus protective umbrellas when it isn’t.
18 Castle Street
Castlefield, Manchester, Greater Manchester, M3 4LZ - Visit now
The Duke’s 92 beer garden is legendary across the city. This canalside bar is well worth a visit, assuming you can get in – a recent weekend visit saw lengthy queues for a table. But it’s well worth it, the outdoor space is one of Manchester’s best and everything is executed safely, without sacrificing the simple pleasure of a summertime drink with friends.
Mr Thomas’s Chop House, 52 Cross St, Manchester, Greater Manchester, M2 7AR - Visit now
Mr Thomas’s Chop House first opened in 1870. Expect beautiful arches, Victorian-era fixtures and fittings, classic British cooking and an excellent wine list. Head around the back and you’ll find a splendid outdoor drinking area, right in the heart of the city centre.
Port Street Beer House, 39-41 Port Street, Manchester, Greater Manchester, M1 2EQ - Visit now
Port Street Beer House is open again for drinks, inside and out. But it’s the out that shines: a great sun-splashed beer garden, cosy enough to be friendly but spacious enough to feel safe and relaxed. And let’s not forget 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, Terrace NQ offers a beautiful rooftop beer garden. When the sun is shining, this is easily one of the most pleasing places to sink a pint in the Northern Quarter.
The Pilcrow, The Pilcrow, Sadler’s Yard, Hanover Street, NOMA, Manchester, Greater Manchester, M60 0AB - Visit now
Now back in action, beer gardens don’t get much better than The Pilcrow Pub’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 an exceptionally nice one and the beer here is so good that we’re willing to overlook this. This much-loved local favourite reopens on the 8th August.
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. Post-lockdown, The Beech is a grand choice if you fancy switching seats to chase the late evening sun.