This is the first of hopefully 3 parts of my thoughts on the Manchester Brew Expo
This is to cover Day 1 – Saturday 23rd May 2015 – featuring the, erm Ardwick/Piccadilly area of brewers.
The area probably has some other name, probably Brewery Quarter, but if Douglas Adams can get away with a trilogy in 5 parts then I’m pretty sure Manchester can also pushes the boundaries of maths.
As is usually with me, I have minimal photos and seldom are they much cop, if it is visual aids you’re after, trek along to this blog Mark Johnson’s – Beer Compurgation
Upon arrival at Sheffield Street, Unit 13, barrel store for Cloud Water Brew you were given a glass, a badge, 5 colour-coded tickets (for the free drinks at each brewery) and a map…
The map had labelled all the brewers taking part and all of Manchester’s train stations. Well except for Victoria, which I felt compelled to add on.
Having got there bright and early to register and hopefully but eventually futilely getting tickets for events that I missed (opinions to follow in part 3) I was left as at loose end for an hour, so toddle off for a big breakfast and a Vimto (cold).
First stop at 11.32 was located at Unit 99, North Western Street
A most spacious of breweries compared to the rest on the tour, they were still setting up, but were kind enough to hand out free tasters of their A to the K Oatmeal Pale (5.6%) and the Crate Digger coffee stout (8.3%).
The first tour began, not too ‘late’ and having witnessed a tweet from the aforementioned M. Johnson about soon to be visited Privateer Brewery being equally chilled out it was reassuring to see that what I thought would be a strictly regimented event was already breaking down into the relaxed day I’d hoped for. A relaxed day during which I probably got all the brewers names confused, so apologies in advance.
Alphabet head brewer Tom (?) took us on a tour of his works, the opening gambit being “you’ll probably hear 5 stories about the same brewing gear today…” Partly true, but it is all in the delivery. A tank tasting was imbibed, I forget which one.
Next it was time to go along Fairfield Street and drop off at Unit 5, Sheffield Street for a 12.30 meet the brewer with…
Here they took our blue lottery ticket in exchange for a choice of 1 of 6 of their beers (3 cask or 3 keg – the first time their beers were on keg). I asked for their cask 5% stout called Toba. I got a pint – this was unexpected…not that I was complaining, though being the first ‘proper’ drink it was fool hardy to think this day wouldn’t end quicker if these were going to be the constant measures poured for free.
Track head brewer Sam (?) showed us around his small outfit but spent more time giving the back story to his brewery, its name and why the beers are named as such – I won’t spoil it, it is more than worth hearing for the brewer’s mouth.
2 breweries down and things are starting to click, next up was the newbie behemoths (no pun needed, you’ll read later on…)
Located a toddle from their barrel store at Units 7-8 on Piccadilly Trading Estate – opposite Parcelforce, it was finally time to see ground hype zero.
It’s a bit like a Tardis actually, an unassuming front door paves the way through a little carpeted corridor to a beer version of Willy Wonka’s factory.
Tickets out and just as I wanted their Hopfenweisse it went off, so I was stuck between two of their beers I’d tried before or a collaboration they’d done with Camden Brewery (I don’t boycott them like some) which was a Märzen style beer.
It was nice to bask in the environment of large-scale investment; to relax on a chair under bright natural light and to gander round their rather special looking brewery, the epiphany came the next day, but at the current time it was just good to take a load off, a bit like a chill out room at a party.
2pm came round soon enough and it was time to see if I could get on a tour that I hadn’t got tickets too…
Now Unit 75 on Temperance Street was a lot farther than was factored in, including a frogger type escapade across Mancunian Way, but it was well worth the trip.
Getting their head brewer Matt was serving behind the bar a looking more than a little, well relaxed with everything. Another pint was served I went for the ever reliable (all Privateer beers are reliably good) 4.8% Red Duke.
To borrow a description from Jimbo Hendrix over at Beers Manchester Matt is very much like Tigger, full of boundless enthusiasm while also, as described by many others, was merely a train engineer masquerading as a brewer (along with building his own brewing equipment).
This came out in his tour (ticketing be damned) as he waxed lyrically about absolutely anything and everything that it was much like Jackanory.
Sadly time is always against us on these things and it was time to move on too…
I’d been to a MTB with head brewer Oli some time before and was informed on arrival that it would just be more of the same. But it was good fun first time around and so it was second time around, though he had gone the route of taking questions from the audience and from online rather than just do much of a prepared speech.
I’ve raved about his 6.5% Espresso Stout and I will rave about it to anyone that listens, Bean Brothers were also there, co-conspirator in this wonderful brew.
What was also at Squawk was food, precious food…£4 worth of some glorious lamb tangine and couscous (plus free bread and olives…double bonus).
It was a shame to leave both Privateer and Squawk, but I was informed they were going to be quietly open on the Sunday, I would most definitely pop back.*
All that was left to do was head back to reclaim my final drink back at Alphabet.
On the way back down Northwestern Street we passed by Unit 69, this is…
Back at Alphabet the beer black board was up…
Barrel-aged Crate Digger at ~10%, that was the one for me.
All the brewers ticked off it was time to go back to the Black Jack Brew Tap (more of that in Day 2 review) for some more food, but not before stopping off at The Beer Moth to quickly dive into their cellar tasting room and have a bottle of something I hate to say was not even from Manchester, USA.
Still if gave me a chance to meet Jamie of Five-Oh Brew Co (more of them in Day 2 review too) and discuss the forth-coming Sunday events.
After that things got a little hazy but this did happen…
— Deeekos (@Deeekos) May 24, 2015
Which segues into the Day 2 review…which should hopefully be up tomorrow…
Till then – Drink Well.
*I most definitely should have popped back, but distance, other beers and
chaffed balls really it was the distance kept me from a return.