Winter Beer Festival 2015

A very belated review of the Winter Beer Festival that took place The Runaway Brewery between January 30 to 1st of February 2015.

This event and I’m bound to get this wrong, was brought together, curated if you will, along with Runaway Brewery, by Shebeen UK, Grub MCR and BlackJack Brewery (and their associated off-shoots).


Tickets were £4, bought in advance, the glass was a £2 returnable deposit, but sexy as it was it was always going to be retained.

Payment for beers was via tokens (above right) and there was also a handy guide (above left and below) to let you know what food/beers/music was available and also, if you hadn’t made it to the other sessions, what you had missed.

Lets have another picture of that glass shall we…


I could wax lyrical about the beers on offer, there were a great many, on keg and on cask – though with the weather being a bit bitter and the venue held in a brewery it was just slightly to chilly for the cask to be on tip-top form, but that is a minor quibble because there was a lot of choice which I yet again forgot to mark up as I didn’t have a pen.

But I was fortunate enough to get to sample Runaway’s second only cask (their 1st appearing at the Salford Beer Festival).  That time it was the American Brown, this time it was the Smoked Porter (6.0%)…


Note to reader: If you see that t-shirt behind the pump, thank anyone wearing one – especially if they have a beard – for the very good range of beers they make.

Sat at a table the bearded wearer of said t-shirt knelt beside me and rather over-flatteringly said (paraphrase) “I know you appreciate beers more than most in here, the Smoked Porter has just gone on cask, so let me know how it is…”

I have previously reviewed Runaway’s beers before, but I’ll take cask whenever I can, as noted above, this was colder than how I had my bottles (but not as cold as when had on keg, obviously) but all the flavours and aromas still come through.

Also new to me was the Marzen Lager (5.4%), keg and obviously very well suited to the chill and a welcome addition to their line-up.


To be honest I was really here for the food (blasphemy) and rather peeved I couldn’t make it to other sessions (beer took priority at the other times) but as I went on the Saturday I was treated to the following vendors…

Before I start go to Bacon on the Beech as they have done a very good review of this festival, with far better food photos.

Beef Brisket by Andy’s Low ‘N’ Slow was jolly good beer accompaniment, melty meat in a smoky sauce, crunchy veg – imagine every food that Guy Fieri eats on his Diner, Drive-Ins and Dives show.

The Ginger Tart brought along some lovely home-made brownies.  Wonderfully gooey and sweet, the raspberry (?) ones just trumping the bacon ones.

The steamed buns from Fu_Schnikens were absolutely immense – surprised me but they are indeed perfect beer food, light yet filling* with plenty of flavours and textures, Ox Cheeks beating out the other meat (I forget) and the veggie option.

My favourite of all the very wonderful foods on offer though was the Chorizo Stew from Comida – warming, hearty, filling*, possibly even healthy.

All that remained was to be taunted with pictures of food from mates that went on other sessions, yes it still burns.

If this has peaked your interest and you want something like this to happen monthly then there is this…

A good little festival, even if it was freezing.


*Filling – it’s all relative when drinking and you happen to be a man slowly becoming comfortable with his expanding waistline.


A Tale of Two Manchester “Taps”…

…so far

In a rainy Northern town in a galaxy far, far away from Westminster…

Or rather a few months ago, back in September the Manchester beer community (no, I don’t know what that is or if it exists either) was positively buzzing about the news of a Manchester Tap, akin to the Taps up and down the country found in and around major UK railway stations.

Much like the trailer for Disney’s Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens, there was no actual substance…all it was about was generating a self-perpetuating buzz…and much mocking

The twitter account @tapmanchester has been a bit more vigorous as of late as, after dicking around with getting a license, they finally announced that they would open in March 2015 in the old Leather Shop on Piccadilly Station approach.

This tap (which may or may not be referred to as Manchester Piccadilly Tap) is to be operated by Bloomsbury Leisure Group which operates the Euston Tap, along with the soon to open Waterloo Tap and another one to be opened in another “secret” UK city.

Oddly, at the same time it would seem someone had got the other, more logical twitter handle @ManchesterTap but they too were relatively quiet…

It has however, all kicked off recently with the @ManchesterTap, clarifying that they are indeed a separate entity and they will open in the Ancoats area of Manchester towards the end of 2015.

This Manchester Tap (which may or may not be referred to as Manchester Ancoats Tap) is being operated by Pivovar Bars which operate all the other railway taps (Sheffield, York, Harrogate)

…and confusingly, also the Euston Tap (and its Cider Tap sister across the road).

Throughout all of this it seems that neither of these operate The Brewery Tap in Leeds which itself is a different entity to the Pivovar run Tapped Leeds

Who thought getting a beer could be so complicated?

So what we have now is the Manchester Tap Wars:

Choose your own subtitle:

– The Phantom Motueka (The Phantom Sorachi menACE, The Fuggles Menace)

– A New Hop (A Brew Hope)

– The Empire Strikes Taps (The Empires Soured Brett)

– Return of the JedIPA

So hopefully this information is all correct, 2015 looks beerily bright.


For the sake of accuracy and increased confusion, there is indeed a Taps Manchester which has the gimmick of being able to pour your own draught beers from a select range, which to be fair has come on leaps and bounds since they first opened.

Sadly they don’t seem to do Amstel anymore.

Whatever you do, probably best to not arrange to meet anyone in any of them, you’re bound to be at different ends of the city.

Addendum (23/02/15)

As noted by Tyson below and by their own Twitter account as of the 20th of February, the @tapmanchester is now officially @PiccadillyTap

@ManchesterTap is still @ManchesterTap

And Taps Manchester is still not selling Amstel.

Addendum (16/03/15)

Just to make things even more odd @ManchesterTap is now a suspended account!!

Meanwhile @PiccadillyTap (formerly @tapmanchester) opens (softly) this week – Friday 20th March.