Squawk Brewing Co – Meet The Brewer

This meet the brewer (MTB) took place at Kosmonaut (@KosmonautMCR) on the 7th of March 2015.

Hosted by head brewer and general one-man-band Oli, Squawk Brewing Co (@SQUAWKBrewingCo) are one of the breweries on what is rapidly being touted as Manchester Brewery Mile (yes, blog still being written).

The Stonecutters in the Simpsons got drunk and then played ping-pong…

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…for this MTB the ping-pong was played first.

So for the princely sum of £10 you got plenty of beers and a pizza…

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The pizza was very welcome because a lot of beer (Manchester brewed too) was drunk this day.  The above is spicy sausage.

The beers were served by the half or by the bottle, so when you look at it that way, it was 3 (closer to 4) hours, spending less than you would only on beer in the equivalent time in a pub – quality entertainment.

For reference, I don’t really tend to heavily review the beers for these MTB, I don’t take notes for a start, unless something is really special, it is just the event that I try to give a glimpse of.

But Oli is one very honest, direct and amiable host – it looks like Manchester managed to nick one of Yorkshire’s best brewers.

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So we started off with a 4.6% Pale – enjoyable enough, but Oli admitted that he’d used a different yeast and it wasn’t one he’d probably use again, he wasn’t a fan of his own aftertaste (the beer’s aftertaste, perverts).

This event started with Oli holding court at the ping-pong table, telling us the general ingredients used in the Pale, standard – however this technique quickly fell apart and it corrupted completely upon delivery of the pizza and the second drink, a 6.3% IPA, which the brewer then merely decided to prowl around each table of punters fielding questions as and when they cropped up.

The IPA was lovely, really went with the pizza too #theresabeerforthat

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Floating Pints came next, a 4.5% pale and a collaboration that came with a tale about the perils and joys of brewing.  I’d already raised a keg/cask question, “either” was the reply, most is casked, but a bit of everything is kegged.  By now Oli was just shooting the breeze with anyone, referring to his actually brew notes and spreadsheets if anyone wanted details of the actual beer.

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Next out was the Hop Rocket (or home brewer porn as it was put) – a quick straw poll and the 6.3% pale was chosen as the beer that would be infused with chili, coriander and strawberries and a ball load more citra hops (losing out were oranges and its peel, cucumber and maybe some other things).

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It was certainly a different experience to other MTB, mixes things up a bit.  The resulting beer was good too, initial pressings(?) were heavy on the coriander and the chili did hang around on the lips.  Later servings (with added second sieving technique) did indeed smell of strawberries.

The other cask of the night was the 6.5% Espresso Stout made in collaboration with Bean Brothers of Huddersfield.  In short, this is what every coffee stout should be like.  You don’t need any more superlatives about it from me, just go and find some.

During this time I was quizzing Oli about fourth-coming plans.  There does indeed seem to be a strong co-operative bent to the brewers of Manchester, those especially close to each other around the Ardwick area (Beer Mile) – where ideas, ingredients and even deliveries are shared around.

The Liquorice Porter, a collaboration with Ad Hop Brewing of Liverpool was next.  Now I love my porters, I’m used to them having hints and light aromas of liquorice – I had this first off at the 2015 Manchester Beer Festival and I described it on twitter as something stolen from Bertie Bassett’s bank vault – it is a beast, something that you feel is really cleaning you out.  If I recall correctly the brew featured 8kg of liquorice, so if there are shortages anywhere, you know who to blame.

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At this stage even the bar manager got in on the act, going around talking to people in attendance, keeping people out of the room who’d ignored the note on the wall outside and started ranting something in as many long words as possible so as not to appear drunk – seriously, when could you ever use a word like contextualise in a normal everyday sentence?

Listening to the bar manager (no names given, none taken) he was telling the story of changing drinking habits, trying to get in the right crowd, keep out certain types, but the irony that having spent many of the past few years getting tired of making 6 Old Fashioned cocktails per order, he is now struck dumb that the main drink of choice if vodka and soda; but he was always trying to get in a big range of beers and for that Kosmonaut can only be commended.

This tied in with my discussion with Oli about cask/keg and the general schism in CAMRA about said topic.  Of course the schism isn’t just in CAMRA but also in the more outspoken newer brewers, who are really just a different side of the same coin.

So in the end a meet the brewer event turned in to an eye-opening journey about the future of not only Manchester brewing but of pubs/bars in general by the people actually involved in their running.

With all the negativity that surround beer, alcohol and pubs this event, at least for a while even put a very hopeful glint to the future of beer.

Thanks to all the staff at Kosmonaut and of course to Mr Squawk Brewing Co.

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