There’s no disputing that Manchester is a ‘happening’ city, bars and restaurants open – and close – with dazzling frequency. Dozens of venues have opened and closed since I left Manchester in mid 2014.
Cooper Hall is a prime example, occupying the site of the former Copacabana on Dale Street in the Norther Quarter.
I have recollections of visiting the Copacabana once, on a very messy tour of bars drinking tequila with the lovely Cleo Rocos, but may be mistaken.
Cooper Hall takes its name from the ornate brickwork at the top of the building – Sevendale House – a former textile warehouse built for I.j. & G Cooper in 1903.
There are literally scores of bars in the Northern Quarter, but what differentiates Cooper Hall is that it serves unpasteurised Pilsner Urquell lager from tanks fresh from Pilsen in the Czech Republic. ‘PU’ – you might be aware – is the original Pilsner lager, first brewed by Josep Grolle in 1842. ) – I’ll get my anorak.
And delicious it is too, despite the frosty winter night outside my taste buds were transported back to the ‘Jelinkova’ bar on a warm summer’s evening in Prague in the summer of 2004.
Unfortunately that was as good as it got, early on a cold Thursday evening was probably not the best time to visit Cooper Hall, it’s a massive barn of a place, probably best enjoyed with scores of bouncing revellers. Not sitting with just half a dozen others. The service was much as I remember from Prague, the barmaid was busy mixing cocktails and had to drag her colleague away from his MacBook to serve me, and the ‘pint’ had a head that was nearly two inches deep.
As a Londoner I tend not to appreciate large heads on my Beer and when I queried this I was told that it was a ‘wet head’ and that it would settle to a full pint. I couldn’t see the line marking on the glass so after a further request I received a desultory top-up squirt.
Fortunately, I had identified a restaurant about ten minutes away that also served ‘fresh’ PU, so after I finished my pint I headed there.
Despite the excellent beer, I won’t be returning.