Manchester Is Still the Home of Great Public Houses

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Jessica McDermott runs the Grey Horse public house in Manchester.

Jessica McDermott helps run the Grey Horse public house in Manchester.

I’ve read about the demise of many of England’s pubs, going from small, locally-owned family run establishments to part of large brewery chains instead. I was keen to experience the old kind of pub, and when I walked by The Grey Horse on Portland Street in Manchester, I knew I’d found the real thing.

The actual rules of the pub, written in 1786.

The actual rules of the pub, written in 1786.

Behind the oval counter, not more than a foot away, easy to talk to, was Jessica McDermott, who helps run this public house where the most of the beer is brewed just a mile and a half away.

The Grey Horse, on Portland Street in Manchester.

The Grey Horse, on Portland Street in Manchester.

She said she knew what everyone would order, and that if I returned to the pub in six months, she’d remember that I liked Hyde’s Original bitter cask ale.

“I remember everyone’s drinks, but not all of their names,” she said, as she deftly pulled down the big tap handle to pour another smooth 3.8 alcohol brew.

I learned about how they tax booze here in the UK, and it isn’t pretty.  Jessica said that each pub negotiates a rate PER GLASS and that’s what they pay. At The Grey Horse, it’s 12 pence per drink, and at some places it’s 52 pence, or 8 pence. It depends on how much money you make and other factors, she said.

Compare this with a regular percentage of sales tax, like we have in the US, and it would be about 3-4 pence per drink.  Wow. A big bite, but remember, they have to pay for all of that free health insurance somehow.

One man complained that he wouldn’t pay it.  Jessica laughed, kept his pint, and he paid up. Nobody escapes the tax, man, just ask the Beatles.

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Max Hartshorne
Max Hartshorne has been the editor of the GoNOMAD.com travel website since 2002. Over the past decade, he has had the privilege of working with writers and publishing travel articles about nearly every country in the world. He has also been a consistent world traveler, writing hundreds of his own travel stories and posting daily blogs from the 10 or more yearly international trips he takes around the world.

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