About the Bar
In downtown Manchester there is a bar that sells the highest volume of unpasteurised Pilsner Urquell beer in the world outside Czech. That’s a surprising and unexpected fact. But then everything about Albert’s Schloss is surprising and unexpected.
On Peter Street, opposite the Great Northern Warehouse, the bar occupies the impressive former Manchester and Salford Wesleyan Mission building built in 1910. It is massive, with a capacity of nearly 700 people. It underwent an expensive but gorgeous refit in 2015 using a staggering amount of reclaimed materials, including floorboards from a Scottish whisky distillery, wood from a Nottingham lace factory, tiles from a mental asylum near Preston, doors from Manchester’s demolished BBC building and planks from old Rusholm tram sheds. The stained glass windows are original. Above it is Albert Hall, an iconic chapel-like 3,000 capacity music venue in the old Methodist meeting room, complete with imposing organ at one end.
“Albert’s Schloss is a feast for the eyes.”
The ‘Albert’ in the name is a loving and cheeky nod to Prince Albert, Queen Victoria’s husband, a Bavarian nobleman. A ‘schloss’ is a castle or pleasure palace, a country estate of the old German elite dedicated to parties. The concept here is simple. It is a modern reimagining of a Bavarian cook haus and bier palace, serving the best in German and Czech beer and food. There is a mix of live DJs and live music, brass bands walking around the bar and Burlesque dancers kicking their legs on tables. It is indescribably popular, packed almost every night.
All six of the 500 litre tanks are drunk every week. They are topped up twice a week, direct from Czech. The staff are young, knowledgeable and passionate about what they do, and fizz with energy.
“The Bavarian concept is unique in Manchester”, says Tim Estherby, the Training & Development Manager for Albert’s Schloss. “The wine list is fantastic and all our wines come from Alpine districts. The food is amazing, made from scratch using proper ingredients – incredibly prep heavy. We even make our own Schnapps. But of course, every staff member raves about Tankovna beer. I’m totally sold – I’m an absolute sucker for it. The beer is central to our concept and all our bartenders can sell it well.
A lot of my role is to find the perfect balance between service and hospitality. For me, service is how people technically deliver a product – a functional thing. But hospitality should be how it makes people feel. It is emotional. We encourage our waiters to read the emotions of our guests, to understand their needs, to go beyond just service to offer a true hospitality experience. That’s what sets us apart.
I’m developing a training manual for all staff at the moment. We set ourselves exceptionally high standards, to become a world-class hospitality experience. My inductions explain the history of beer but also the importance of tank beer. After going to Plzeň I am even more passionate about Pilsner Urquell and my plan is to fight the Tapster’s corner, to make all staff really proud of the beer and to have the right passion for it.
I was born in South Manchester and have worked in the hospitality industry for 15 years, at first so I could pay my way in the music industry. I was in a band called Swiss Lips, touring with the likes of Bastille, LadyHawke and Blur. I was lucky, I got to play concerts in places like Tokyo, Texas, New York, Latvia and all over the UK – even playing to 20,000 people in Georgia. But the music industry is a hard place to be. I’ve now settled down and got myself a proper job!
“I’m excited about Schloss bringing a certain look and seriousness to beer.”
We provide something so unique. We have three Tapsters here, brewery-trained by Robert Lobovský, the Beermaster, in Czech. When we put on our Tapsters’ shirts and aprons, it reaffirms our position. People ask us questions about them. Being a Tapster is an admirable profession, as it should be. We are the purveyors of knowledge and serious beer – and having Tapsters behind the bar has definitely helped us sell our beer well beyond our expectations within months of opening.
In the future I want to develop a team of passionate trainers for the bar. Maybe even create a Schloss Academy of Excellence. I’ve always thought that to be good at what you do you’ve got to have passion and be able to share your knowledge generously. This seems the perfect place to do that.”
“Albert’s Schloss wants people to have fun. The atmosphere is incredible.”