First Chop and BlackJack – A Manchester Meet The Brewer


So the battle lines were drawn, the date was Friday the 5th December 2014.

The place was Jam Street Cafe, the combatants were (clue in the title) BlackJack Brewery and First Chop Brewing Arm

And that is completely where any war references end, because if all campaigns were fought like this there would be no death and everyone would just sit down and have a beer and a chat.

Well, some would chat.

Having spent a few hours whittling and relaxing in Font Bar Chorlton, taking in Didsbury’s Geipel Brewing and their 6.7% Zoiglator Bock and the new one from Runaway Brewery in the form of the delicious sounding and tasting 6.2% Gingerbread Stout (waiting for the bottles to add to my review of their others – shameless plug), I didn’t think I could get more relaxed, I was quite wrong.

Having enquired in advance about tickets for this event, Jam Street themselves seemed to suggest there weren’t any and just to turn up.  OK, all ready not quite as regulated as previous MTB.

Also the start time was given as either 7.30pm in some places and 8.00pm on the poster – who knew?

Certainly not the BlackJack brewers (Rob, Rich and glassworks/marketing bod Joe) who were there when I arrived at about 7.30 and were drinking beers, I sat down and joined them with a few other familiar neer-do-wells.

Rick from First Chop turned up at around 8pm, got a drink and hung around, some people came and asked when it started.

Joe thought he best look lively and move a few chairs, Rick went and helped, Rich went out for a cig, Rob stayed in his seat, finishing his drink.

The DJ arrived and set up.

At about 8.15pm it was announced the event was about to start….

I’ll now link to my semi-live tweets from the event…

— Deeekos (@Deeekos) December 5, 2014

At about 9pm we started, by 9.30 – this had all ready happened…

Rick had grasped earerly at the now seated masses and was discussing his beers with aplomb whilst fielding questions.

Good Measure (cask), as was explained because it didn’t have the brewery’s usual 3-letter ident was brewed as a tribute to Manchester clothes maker “Good Measure”

TOC (cask) was also tasted, a pale ale.

Apologies for the lack of tasting notes, these two beers were not bad at all, but there are two reasons (1) I didn’t actually take any notes and (2) their JOE stole the show.  It was on keg, the other two were cask (I think), more irritatingly it was on cask in the Font and I chose not to have it.  On keg it was, as was noted by most, a tad too cold, but it was still fantastic.  A coffee IPA, there was a story behind the beans used, that they’d actually been allowed to partially ferment prior to processing.

I think JOE now trumps SYL (black IPA) and PIP (a saison in collaboration with ShinDigger) as my favourite drink by First Chop.  Really did like this a lot.  This was the second batch at 4.2%, the first batch was brewed at 3.5%, that I do remember.

Rick did mention that he was going to trim his range in order to do more specials and one-offs.  So if you have a favourite First Chop beer that you think should continue to be brewed, then best let them know sharpish.

During this time Rob had moved to the bar near the gathering (to be fair, he’d been there most of the time, heckling and being heckled) when the decision was made that it would be Metrolink user and possibly Manchester’s tallest brewer Rich who’d do the talking, as he’d been foolish enough to actually wear a BlackJack branded t-shirt.

Joe (not the beer) was there for moral support and was doing a sterling job handing out the drinks and collecting the empties.

Samples from BlackJack were the Brambling Cross (cask), Black Maria (keg), Farmhouse Red (bottle *new*) and The River (cask).

Yep, no notes, but as I’ve come to expect from them, all the beers were very good, particularly the Farmhouse Red and with them now having 4 of their beers available in bottles I’ll definitely be getting some – perhaps at this weekend’s Brew Tap that BlackJack run monthly.

Upon the wind-down, though there wasn’t much to chill-out from, the money was collected and £5 was an absolute steal for this.

I left wondering why.  If films and music bring us so much happiness, that when we see the creators of these works we would get an autograph, or as the kids would do these days, a selfie – and yet beer, which brings me an equal amount of joy I don’t feel the need to do this with the brewers.

A philosophical way to end what was possibly one of the most fun Friday’s I’ve had in 2014.

Thanks to all involved.


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