I lost track of the number of recommendations I got for Market Porter. Unfortunately, the first time I stopped, it was just after 11 p.m. and everyone was rolling out the door to go home for the night. Oops. So I stopped in the next day, New Year's Eve day, and hung out at the bar for a couple of hours.
I started with Meantime, mostly because a Meantime rep told me to go to Market Porter for more of their beers. 20+ engines around the dark wood bar; I didn't really count, and never got past having beer from the firkins. I have a hard time passing up stuff I don't recognize, so Acorn Brewery and Daniel Thwaites were next, and then Moorhouse's Pendle Witches Brew and Harvey's Best Bitter. All good and very well served, as advertised. Looking at the website today, even more are offered and constantly rotating—good place to survey the British beerscape.
Sitting at the bar, I met Jim, who very nicely looked up the number for my next stop, the Royal Oak. Jim offered to let me use his mobile to call the Royal Oak, which I sheepishly had to admit I didn't know how to dial a UK number; so he called for me to confirm that the Royal Oak was indeed open for an afternoon visit. Later, I had a great talk with John and Laura about beer, politics, and culture. Market Porter was an excellent afternoon that truly matched my expectations of what a pub should be: friends and strangers engaging in good conversation over beers. In addition to the bartender having an exceptional beer knowledge, so were the people at the bar—real beer people who knew and appreciated excellent brew. While I don't mind sharing the good beers news, it's nice to say things like "IPA" and "CAMRA" and not have to define it.
With such a short trip (5 days) and a lot of touristy stuff to do plus an unfortunate bout with a norovirus bug the first few days, I didn't have much time to just sit and enjoy a pub. Market Porter was basically my main time in a pub that I wasn't rushing off to see a giant clock or fireworks, and it didn't disappoint in the slightest. You can't go wrong stopping early (or often) at Market Porter.