The Isle of Man is often described as 85,000 alcoholics clinging to a rock in the middle of nowhere. In the past, there may have been a bit of truth to this analogy, but times change and so do drinking habits.
At one point you didn’t have to walk more than 100 yards between boozers if you were on a bit of a crawl, but those between pub walks are getting longer.
Luckily enough, we appear to be in the middle of a revolution in the food and drinks industry on the Island. We have small businesses popping up with cocktail bars, beer tastings and all manner of events. Even the big boys over at H&B are getting in on the act.
So where’s the best place for a beer on the Isle of Man? Well despite some of the Island’s independent pubs having been closed over the years, we’re still blessed with plenty of choice but if we don’t use them we’ll lose them.
The Trafalgar Hotel
They’re not short of a few pubs in the North of the Island (you can draw you own conclusions as to why) but our pick of the bunch is The Traf, or The Trafalgar Hotel to give it’s full moniker.
The Traf provides an escape from the day to day drudgery of Northern life. You can grab yourself a pint, get a brabbag by the fire and if you don’t know what that means, one of the more experienced regulars will happily explain it and impart the type of wisdom that can only be found ‘down the local’.
They have a decent choice of beer for a small bar too; hand pulls, kegged beers and a selection of bottles. They even have a few random bottles of craft beer in the fridge if that’s your poison of choice.
The Creek Inn
Peel is blessed with some fine drinking establishments, but the Creek offers a bit of something for everyone. Last year, it placed 5th on The Times newspaper’s list of the top seaside pubs!
Regular live music, 15 hand pulls of ever changing real ale, proper pub grub and live sports.
They appear to have shoehorned in every feature a pub can have, but it works and it’s a safe bet that everyone in your group will find something they like about the place. And when the sun shines, you can sit outside and enjoy the smell of smoking kippers drifting down the harbour.
OK it’s not a pub, it’s a wine bar and a winery. So why am I including it in my top pubs when The Bay is just a few minutes down the road? Craft Beer that’s why!
At Bottle Monkey, we love our craft beer and despite the bar being small in stature, down at the Vintners they have a great selection of craft beer and traditional styles from Germany & Belgium, alongside a choice of artisan spirits and their awesome Rhubarb fizz which is made on site. And if that wasn’t enough, they have just announced their new range of Vermouth!
Whether you go for one of their many pop-ups or just a quiet drink, it’s one of the Islands most unique venues with dramatic views whatever the weather, but when the sun is shining, is there anything better than sitting on their outside deck and looking out across Port Erin bay with a drink in hand?! And we didn’t even mention the tables that get winched down from the ceiling!
The Bay Hotel
We can’t talk about Southern pubs and not include The Bay too, with their legendary Bushy’s beer, live music and homemade food, The Bay has been at the heart of the Port Erin community since it was brought back from the dead by Bushy’s just after the millennium.
It’s everything a local pub should be and makes an inviting sight as you walk along Port Erin prom – and being dog-friendly, it’s far too easy to nip in for a pint when you should be walking the dog!
The Thirsty Pigeon
It seems like this place has been around forever, but it’s a relative newcomer only opening up in 2013.
It’s traditional style and emphasis on good old-fashioned customer service helps you shrug off the stresses of the working week when beer o’clock hits on a Friday. It’s often busy, but somehow it never feels too packed. So if you’re looking for somewhere lively where the doors are always open, get yourself down to The Pigeon.
They’ve got a good mix of drinks; cask, keg or bottle and nothing is too much trouble for the staff.
The Rover’s Return
A stalwart of the local pub scene, hidden away behind the Town Hall, the Rovers is one of the more ‘unique’ pub offerings on the island.
One part of the pub acts as a shrine to Blackburn Rovers, and the quirky hand-pull pumps are made of parts from the end of fire hoses. They do food too, and at lunchtime you could feed a family of four on one order of burger and chips.
There’s an eclectic mix of clientele enjoying the infamous Bushy’s beer offerings and they are happy to share a story or seven, especially if you mention that you remember the old Bushy’s site.
If spending your Saturday & Sunday afternoons watching football with a pint in hand is your idea of a good time, then Jaks is your little slice of heaven on Douglas Prom.
Recently refurbished, this is the islands only real sports bar. You can see a screen wherever you stand, so you won’t miss a moment’s action and once the dust settles on the sporting side, Jaks keeps the entertainment coming with live music and a great choice of drinks behind the bar including locally produced real ales.
Bath & Bottle
Alright this is another one that isn’t really a pub. This is the Island’s premier cocktail spot, but they have a pretty decent beer line up too.
I recommend dropping in for their ‘Speakeasy Cinema’ nights, where you can relax on the Chesterfield sofas in the basement bar and take in a movie. And don’t worry if you run out of popcorn or need a refill on that Mai Tai, you can send them a text and they’ll bring your order to you.
Well that’s a few of the best independent drinking establishments our little Island has to offer, but don’t take my word for it – get out and give them a try and whilst there, make sure you explore some of the many other venues our Rock boasts.