Manchester Brewery Expo 2017 (Manchester Beer Week)

So the last Manchester Brewery Expo was in 2015 and you can read my thoughts on it over these 3 parts.

Brewery Expo 2015 – Part 1

Brewery Expo 2015 – Part 2

Brewery Expo 2015 – Part 3

2015 was held over 2 days and whereas technically so was this year’s event, only the Saturday saw all the breweries open.

Also changed was that a Tote bag was not the prize on offer but a t-shirt, plus the fact that 2017 was the nice relaxed event that 2015 became (and actually ended up being) because this year was not controlled by a raging egomaniac.

Rather than regale you with what its like to drink in 11 different breweries this piece is just going to be about the differences between 2015 and 2017.

Irk Valley Breweries

Green Quarter, Red Bank, call this place what you like its the one where the arches the breweries are housed in are service by Victoria Station.

Blackjack Beers

The easiest place to start is that in the storied past of a whole 2 years ago there was only 1 brewery tap open and that was Blackjack.  They are still going strong, strong even; after the evolution of good, non-portable toilets at their tap they have also launched a token system which improves the experience two-fold; less queuing to get a beer and those staff who volunteer to work the bar don’t have to suffer that bloody temperamental cash till.  I think Six O’Clock Beer Co. still cuckoos here too.

It is also worth noting that Blackjack also took control of the Smithfield Hotel in central Manchester and Jack in the Box in Altrincham prior to that.  Bush outside brewery still progressing nicely.

 

Runaway Brewery

Runaway are about to launch a weekly tap themselves, this to complement the new mezzanine they’ve installed at the brewery which is a nice extension, even if it does mean queuing on stairs for beer.

Beatnikz Republic

The first of the new breweries in Manchester city centre (well on this list) and also with a regular Friday/Saturday brewery tap.  Nice toilet signs.

 

Marble Brewery

They don’t have a tap and they weren’t open this year as part of the expo but they don’t need to be.  They themselves have expanded since 2015, with a new outlet called 57 Thomas Street in the quickly becoming irrelevant Northern Quarter as well as an expansion into canning their beers and launching a whole host of new brews, which someone once suggested made Marble the premier lager producers of Manchester.

Piccadilly Breweries

This stretches from Piccadilly Station to Ardwick (seldom visited by trains, better shrubbery than Blackjack) and if you survive crossing the Mancunian Way, you’ll probably cop it from the nut jobs that speed down either side, despite the chalked pleas of the locals.

Track Brewing Co.

Semi-regular brew tap which is always very popular.  Everyone loves Sonoma.

Alphabet Brewing Co

Weekly brew tap, this brewery seemed to steal a march with regards canning their beers.  The regular occurrence of the tap also forced them to install extra toilets and the loudest but best hand drier.

Dan’s Brewery

A complete lack of social media presence doesn’t detract from the newest brewery on the block, with a pedigree shared between the aforementioned Marble and the heavily worshipped Huddersfield outfit that is Magic Rock.

Carbon Smith Brewing

Just starting in 2015, not open in 2017 but still around in some capacity, which may also see yet another brewery appear in central Manchester too.

Beer Nouveau

Replacing Privateer, this brewery lead the charge of a regular weekly brew tap, also expanded into the other half of the arch and is launching their own Heritage Beers Barrel funding thing, which in itself has exceed expectation has also expanded its funding limit.  Origami cuckoos from here too.

Chorlton Brewing Co.

Expanded capacity, now canning generally exclusively and still not confirmed if they are going with Tesco or not…well that is what everyone wanted to know.

Manchester Brewing Co

Another addition since 2015, with semi regular brew taps.  Has a ping-pong table.

Squawk Brewing Co.

Only opened again for the first time since 2015 (that is what I’m telling myself anyway), they work closely, almost symbiotically with Track to host brew taps throughout the year.  Did not serve Tagine on this day and toilet not as spectacular as it once was but these are minor quibbles.  Is looking to get a new fermenter.

Add to this that those breweries that did start out as one man outfits have now also expanded their staffing and it is showing to me at least, a human who did think that there were too many breweries and that some were bound to fold quickly, has not come to pass.

Yet.

In the centre of Manchester.

Breweries are dropping in the metropolitan county of Greater Manchester but that is another story.

 

Beer Flies and The Sopranos

If you’ve not seen The Sopranos this post may contain spoilers…

Beer Flies

I’ve worked in 3 main environments in my employed life; in bars, in breweries and mainly in laboratories and in all three flies were a problem.

You’d think in fairly modern lab environments that creepy crawlies wouldn’t be a factor but they always find a way in.  Through doors, through windows left open in the hotter summer months, through fume cupboards and extractor vents.  With all the nasties I’ve inhaled over the years you think that those chemicals would be a big enough deterrent for these critters but no, there they are, what was a pristine working surface when you left for the day is returned to in the morning to be met with a fly somehow doing backstroke in your mobile phase.

For me, most of the bars (or cellars) were relatively flying pest free, the biggest problem is always at the brewery.  A lack of storage space in most pubs will see used casks thrown outside, most of the time not sealed and lord what a grand job cleaning fly eggs out of cask is. Bar flies are not included in this piece, loveable rogues that they usually are.

I’m not a fan of chemical weapons; watching something slowly twitch its last as its mitochondrion cease respiring is never pleasant so the short, swift splat against whatever surface they are resting on is preferable, or the Mr Miyagi school of snatching it out of the air is also employed, usually without chopsticks.

Though I find that every time I do this I consider what the fly is thinking; one minute buzzing around, bumping into things, smelling the sweet wort of the final beer and looking for a way into the fermenter, the very next moment – nothing.  Obviously at point of death they aren’t thinking anything at all but in some ways this then gets me thinking about…

The Sopranos

I was bought the box set of The Sopranos many years ago and finally, over the course of the first few months of 2017, got round to binge watching it all.

When it comes to TV series it started with the original run of Oz, which despite being bumped around the late night schedules of Channel 4 (UK), I was still able to catch most of it.  I never watched 24, save the very last episode of Season 1.  I can chalk off Breaking Bad, Games of Thrones is still ongoing for now and The Wire still remains my personal favourite but a lack of The Sopranos always seemed to hang over my head, so I settled in to watch it.

The series was originally shown on Channel Four and when this happened I caught precisely, one opening credits sequence, one scene of Lorraine Bracco, a Rottweiler and a vending machine (which obviously made little sense at the time) and the last few minutes of the final episode, which everyone had banged on about but again made little sense in any context.

The scene is famous for a long and protracted diner scene in which Tony Soprano (the sadly deceased James Gandolfini) waits and meets the arrival of his wife, his son and maybe eventually his daughter, all to the sound of Don’t Stop Believing  by Journey.  As they discuss mundane family matters, the bell in the diner rings to announce the arrival of each new customer and each time Tony looks up to see if its his daughter, then over the course of some onion rings the bell rings, Tony looks up and then the screen cuts to black.  There is a wait of some 30 seconds before the credits roll.  The ending baffled most, mainly because of its ambiguity let alone the suddenness of it all.

Personally I never saw Tony as anything more than the gangster he was, on my scale he didn’t even measure up as an anti-hero but the ending still have a hard impact despite not being wholly loving of the main protagonist.

There are many videos out there discussing what the ending means and a very good one that picks out “clues” from the preceding few episodes to point to the fact that Tony died.

Swift, short, sudden and the victim was totally anonymous to their own death, in essence just like squishing beer flies.

Who wants a protracted death, body flooded with chemicals that are only palliative, far better just to have the lights turned off.

 

Thanks for reading.

 

One thing I can agree with Tony Soprano on is this…

 

VineHop – Poynton, Cheshire

…and then from Stockport...

You can get the train (very rarely but it does happen) to Poynton and visit…

Vine Hop

 

The annoying thing about train travel to Poynton is that it happens to be the first stop outside the Greater Manchester travel boundary, so anyone with a season ticket will need to pay extra…

…or just sit in the carriage furtherest from the conductor and hope they don’t reach you until you disembark.

A swift 10 minute walk into the town centre from the station, this is the latest addition to the growing beer/bottle bar sector but with the emphasis less on beer (only slightly) and more for wine, because Cheshire is properly middle-class and hasn’t fully dumped wine for craft beer just yet.

As you may be able to tell, this new venture’s previous building identity was a butchers, inside the only things hanging are the 6 keg lines…

 

And the 8 (4 white, 4 red) wine lines that you buy a special card for (and top-up I expect)…

 

Its like looking into the future with this set-up, I was more struck by this than the very large range of bottle/cans of beer that were available, very reasonably priced, though to drink in you did have the additional £1.20 charge…

 

Spirits, heavy emphasis on gins, are also available…oh and a box of cider (along with a choice of bottles too)…when you aren’t lost between all the wine…

 

Look…coat hangers…

It is a nice place for a few quiet drinks but then again Poynton has a drinking establishment for everybody’s tastes and maybe a full on blog is required.

Warning: You may well get to meet Stanley at this venue…

 

Which would be fantastic…if he wasn’t accompanied by his entourage of hangers-on owner.

 

Thanks for reading.

Burnage to The Heatons – A Crawl of MicroBar Bottle Shops

Burnage (Pronounced: Bur-ni-d-g; or Bur-n-arrr-ge if you want to sound posh) always registered in my young mind as one of those places you don’t want to get caught out being in after dark.  Not quite as ominous of Longsight, Broughton or the infamous Moss Side but still just an “avoid” place.

All titles are links.

So you get the train out of Piccadilly for 2 stops, about 10 minutes, get off at Burnage Station and walk 1 minute to…

Reasons To Be Cheerful (@R2BCBeerCafe)

 

Of course I never had any reason to go to Burnage until the news was announced that this place was opening (it opened in January 2017) and I needed to do a recce to gauge roughly where it would be located and what this crawl would be like.

There is cider, 6 keg fonts and 3 casks (cellared) and most importantly…coat hooks on the bar…

 

Lovely little venue with a guy serving the beer, at the time of calling, called Dave who was very friendly and talkative.

The only odd thing about the place is its frontage is kind of subdued next to the ramp way of the take-away next door.

 

You then walk back passed the train station and continue over Kingsways in a straight line for about a quarter of an hour, passed the sign the lets you know you’re entering Stockport, you can tell this too because they’ve still got Co-Op stores, and you’ll end up at…

The Beer Shop

Which was closed on this occasion…but I had been before…

 

Beer Shop opened in 2011, and the place acts more like an off-license with a great range of beer bottle AND that happens to have a couple of casks (jacket chillers) that an actual micro boozery.  With its TV usually showing sports and its location in the middle of a housing estate it also feels more like someone’s front room, so overall it is a bit of a unique experience in the realms of drinking in Greater Manchester.

It is a bit of a windy 15 minute walk (that’s wind as in the movement that isn’t of the bowels) to Shaw Road which it the venue of the next place, which is…

Bottle Stockport

 

Opened in 2015, recently extended opening hours make this place more likely to be open when visiting these days, it is all keg and bottles and the seating and tables are those high, posing ones but its a nice little place with a good and varied range of beers.

 

Beers Manchester wrote a more detailed blog about Bottle here.

Then all you have to do is get up and take a left on to Heaton Moor Road which merges into School Lane when it crosses the A6 and you have reached…

Heaton Hops

There isn’t much more to be said about this place seeing as since its opening in 2015 it won award after award and the only time I’ve been able to get a seat is if I get there just as the shutters open.

2 cask, 8 keg, loads of bottles, a downstairs I’ve still never visited and the 70% chance you’ll get ranted at (and can join in with) by Jimmy from Malay Street Food  which is always good fun, though not as much fun as his food.

Once again, Beers Manchester writes more on this place, here.

After you’ve sampled the delights of Heaton Hops you can then walk back on yourself to Heaton Chapel train station and take the train back the Manchester (passé) or go via Stockport way and onward to where the drinking delights of Cheshire await.

Of course, other beer outlets are available

 

Thanks for reading.

Prequel: If Beer Was…

If Brewdog Was…

They Live

This past weekend, a reincarnated ‘Rowdy’ Roddy Piper took a trip up to Aberdeen, Scotland.

 

 

On the way there he was given some sunglasses which caused strange things to be seen when he tried them on…

 

 

 

He then found his way to a meeting of, well he didn’t know what to make of it…

 

 

 

He snapped at the gathering…

 

 

The more loyal members of the fan club became enraged and went on the attack…

 

And sadly Roddy and his morals were no more…

The moral of the story is, you never know what you are buying in to…

…or who you are drinking a beer with…

 

Thanks for reading…

 

 

 

 

?

Bière Clos

Subtitle: Blogger who says people take beer too seriously writes piece with reference to French existential philosophy.

Actually, I was going to write a few observational bits and pieces about beer based on the translations of the title of the play Huis Clos but I can’t be bothered, I’d only be repeating myself and every other beer blog so I’ll just let the titles speak for themselves (so much for research). You Figure It Out.

No Exit (No Entry)

In Camera

Vicious Circle

Behind Closed Doors

Dead End

 

Hell is other hobbyists.

 

Oh well, let’s continue…

 

Thanks for reading.

Today in “What? Craft Beer is a Business?”

For the 1st of March 2017…

Brewer offers lots of money for Sales Rep

– probably getting paid more than most brewers out there

Distribution Company that once tried to sue craft brewer buys controlling interest in craft brewery

Halewood extends into beer with Hawkshead Brewery deal

 

Punk Brewing Gods issue Cease and Desist to Pub

Heineken Trolls Craft Beer with their own words

– while also buying loads of UK pubs to annoy everyone else in the beer world.

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