A Brewery Gets Woke…Now Going Broke…

In writing this piece I will probably expose who I was talking about in the quoted piece below, meh, so be it.  In fact if you didn’t know who I was writing about back then, you will pretty much gather who it is if you’d have paid enough attention to Manchester’s brewing/twitter bollocks over the last few years.

 

2014

Start brewery in a Piccadilly archway brewing a very niche style of beers.  Employ one renowned blogger to handle PR (twitter) while you brew.

2015

Get Woke.

Complain about offensive t-shirt at Manchester Beer Festival.  Take over PR of brewery.

Employ and release a few people for various reasons.

Try and control “Piccadilly Beer Mile” and in effect Manchester beer scene but run up against both sensible people/brewers and someone who can be an even bigger virtue signalling fool than you can be.

Get into a spat with a bloke from London who is in Manchester for a while.  Maybe police were involved, maybe they weren’t.  What larks, eh Pip?

2016

Warn that offensive t-shirts should not be at Manchester Beer Festival (they aren’t but you’ve set a precedent to virtue signal so you’ve got to play the game).

Employ and release a few people for various reasons.

Hint that Tesco has approached you to sell your cans, simply so you can signal how you won’t be signing up.

Continue beer sexism rants on twitter.

Further alienate customer base and others within the brewing world.

Call for the assassination of Trump

2017

Employ and release a few people for various reasons.

Continue beer sexism rants on twitter.

Further alienate customer base and others within the brewing world.

2018

Continue beer sexism rants on twitter.

Harass all stockists of Robinson’s Dizzy Blonde.

Employ and release a few people for various reasons but mainly because they are men.  Then employ women with now proven experience of commercial brewing.

Slag off lager.

Slag off local newspaper in a battle of the brain-trusts.

Launch crowd funder. Always a sure sign.

2019

If you make it this far, I’ll be surprised.

Go Broke.

 

Disclaimer: All time lines are non-specific and everything else is gossip.  None of this is personal, this piece is merely a warning.  If you aren’t of a significant business size to be woke, you are in no sensible financial position to draw your lines so deep in the sand as to not be able to come out the other side with your business still intact.

 

Thanks for reading.

 

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Beyond the Bubble: Can beer make a difference?

Manchester Beer Week Event

 

“Beer has been a remarkable success story in recent years.”

It depends how you define success. Pubs closing rapidly, less people drinking out and at home.  Not the best business model to achieve longevity in.

 

“The number of breweries in Greater Manchester has grown by more than 200% since 2010 and more continue to open their doors each year.”

Ah, we are defining it like that.  I admitted last year I was surprised that none of the breweries in Manchester centre had combusted yet (the ones that actually got going in the first place that is) – but I’m thinking by the end of 2018 we’ll see the first one but that will be because of personality issues leading to bad business decisions rather than it being a crowded market place.

Still the way we are drinking is changing, hence the rise and rise of the brewery tap, I am still surprised it manages to sustain so many feeding off the same teat.

 

“A big part of this success is the perceived ethos of craft brewing. These small-scale, independent producers are often viewed as a backlash against the status quo, and attached to values such as social awareness and inclusion.”

Bubble Alert – Perceived indeed it is.  Leaving aside what makes a good status quo and a what makes a bad status quo but its something akin to when democracy gives the “wrong” answer.

I am aware of awareness.

But when it comes to craft brewing and inclusion I just think of this…

 

“This discussion will look at whether craft brewers doing enough to justify this perception and ask if more can be done to engage with the wider community and have a lasting, positive impact on society.”

The ones doing enough to justify this perception are the ones that want to sell it and use it as an additional marketing gimmick.  Most of the other brewers just get on with their chosen jobs, because that is all it is.  A job.

“The panel will include Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham, who has worked to involve the region’s businesses in his campaign to tackle homelessness, and Jenn Merrick, the former Beavertown head brewer and founder of Earth Station, a new community brewery being developed in East London.”

Nothing to difficult for Andy, got to keep it simple, play to the converted.  Maybe you’ll visit the North Stand at the LSV soon.  All the best.

 

Another fabulous chin-stroking, glad-handing, bubble-inflating “discussion.”

 

Thanks for reading.

A Look Back In Anger. And Every Other Fucking Direction

The Terrorists will not change us…

Except when it comes to delaying our election process, delaying democracy.

Except when it comes to the state wanting even greater powers to actually hack into its citizens private communications.

Except when it comes to freedom of speech because apparently 80,000 people want The Sun banned in Manchester because they are brain-dead twats living in an irony-free zone.

Except I don’t full know how to express myself in words, so here are some emojis.

Except I want people to lose their jobs if they make a joke or say something possibly defamatory.

Except now I’ve got a tattoo – solidarity brothers and sisters.

Except when it comes to being able to actual discuss just what the fuck is going on in the world.

Standard Response

Following the events at the Manchester Arena on the 22nd of Many 2017 there followed the usual, typically predictable response to a terrorist attack.

The #PrayFor and #NotAll hashtags fly like winged monkeys, the avatars changed to accommodate the latest geographical victim, well one that is in the West at least, you’d never have a static avatar if you had to commemorate everyone blown to bits in the Middle East.

The UK press wait a day or so and then dwell upon the attacker(s) because for some reason it feels that the public need to know their name(s), their background, their history because that doesn’t detract from the victims at all.

We also have to preach the mantra that terrorists don’t represent Islam but merely a warped view of it and it has nothing to do with religion.

That last point is bollocks, always has been, always will be…

Give it a week and then the police will release a report about an increase in “hate crime” – quite what being blown up, run over, shot or stabbed is if it isn’t hate is beside the point in this most Orwellian-like crime, but if you’ve been called a nasty name that too is a crime apparently on a par with loss of life and needs as much media focus.*

Above all it is pushed by all and sundry that we should “carry on” and that was should not let “hate beat love.”

Hate

Hate is OK.  Hate is a valid human emotion.

This past fortnight has all been about love, or people’s versions of what love is, not even Foreigner knew what it was and needed it showing to them but either way its was all about love.

One big, homogeneous, nondescript, identity-less Love.

The avatar changes, the bee tattoos, the candle-lit vigils do nothing but focus on the individual and their suffering, which is nothing, it is absolutely fuck-all to those that were actually killed, their next of kin and those who actually could have been victims.

What, so you didn’t “love Manchester” before you changed your avatar and you will stop loving it when you change it?

Your bee tattoo and graffiti, possibly a nice symbol of solidarity is really just look-at-me narcissism, less about love and more a constant reminder of carnage.

You only have love? You have no hate, because hate is all terrorists have and you are better than terrorists?

Not killing people makes you better than a terrorist, not having any other emotions makes you an unthinking drone.

And this is the problem.  I don’t hate you for changing your avatar or getting a tattoo or painting a picture, or singing a song or lighting a candle.   Grief, if that honestly what it is as opposed to relief, is something personal that we all deal with in our own way.

What I do hate, apart from delusional, murdering fucksticks is the rest of the response; that we carry on as normal and yet we still modify our behaviour, our language, our ability to ask questions or offer up answers and even opinions.

In the Kübler-Ross model there are five stages to dealing with grief: Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression and Acceptance.

There seems to be a collective brain-fart at work that we avoided the 2nd stage and just focus on the 3rd and 5th.  The world of social media seems to turn into Rimmer after he has had his first meeting with the Polymorph in Red Dwarf.

You neither have to bargain with terrorists, because you can’t and you certainly don’t have to accept it, regardless of what Mayors of London say.

I have love and it doesn’t need mood slime to help flourish, but I certainly have hate too.  The hate won’t keep me any more safe that those apparently without it but it is my response to events, along with continuing to question and to use the same language.

Hate is OK.  Hate is a valid human emotion. It is all about how you channel it.

 

Thanks for reading.

 

 

*Hyperbole but it does seems as much gravitas is placed on “hate crime” statistics than any other crime.  Crime is hate, all crime is a hate crime.

Is The Labour Party Finished in Manchester?

I was going to put “The North” but I’m sticking with my local area for rather obvious reasons.

I’m not exactly a massive fan of the system we call democracy in the UK as it currently stands, I’m more a fan of proportional representation (PR) than first passed the post (FPP) but then again as has been shown with the recent referendum on the UK’s continued membership of the European Union, because the vote didn’t go the way of the “enlightened” then it clear indicates that some people shouldn’t even be allowed to vote, let alone the if PR was the system of voting in the UK, then UKIP would indeed have far more parliamentary representation than either the Lib Dems or the Greens.

A great many in the county of Manchester voted to Leave, 7 of the 10 boroughs in fact.  Because the referendum was reduced by some to Leave = right-wing, Remain = left-wing it came as quite a shock that supposedly a left-wing party, Labour heartlands would vote in massive numbers to Leave.  So much so that this somehow fell on the head of Jeremy Corbyn (to be fair the man has been against the EU most of his political career) and so now the Labour Party is tearing itself apart with a leadership election.

As the fallout between Corbyn and ABCs (anybody but Corbyn) continues in the Labour party, it is the face of Tony Blair that always looms large and this 3 consecutive victories (achieved regardless of numerous invasion follies) that are brought up as to why Corbyn isn’t a suitable leader and/or Prime Minister.

Watching spin doctor Alistair Campbell (ever so briefly) on Question Time banging on about how they won over Tory voters highlights what went wrong and what continues to go wrong.  Yes, you need to win over some of these voters but sadly they did it at the expense of their core working class vote.

Its a bit like the mob in the Christopher Nolan Batman film “The Dark Knight,” they had a problem with not having a grip on power any more (Note: any MP using the term “in power” should be viewed with suspicion) so turn to a force they did not fully understand, this brought some initial quick gains but they undercut themselves in the long-term.

Of course that analogy can be applied today, Jeremy Corbyn is no great cure-all but at least he isn’t a Liberal Democrat, a party akin to John Daggett, teaming up with the Tory’s Bane and then looking on in horror as to what destruction they have enabled while they themselves also end up destroyed.

Damn, if only I had a political analogy involving Ra’s al Ghul.

Locally the Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA), all Labour except 1, a Conservative of the Trafford Borough (which voted 57.7% to Remain).

My borough council, Wigan, voted 63.9% to Leave the EU, it is made up of 65 Labour seats, the other 10 split between local independents and the Conservatives.

Manchester City Council has 95 Labour party representatives and 1 Lib Dem (60.4% Remain).

I’ve blogged about local issues before locally in Atherton and around the borough as Wigan Labour systematically remove popular and necessary public assets for private profiteering.

About the loss of Manchester’s heritage as Manchester City Labour purge history from Manchester’s streets and most recently the evisceration of another historic part of Manchester so Gary Neville can build his own versions of Barad-dûr and Orthanc.

Of course should Labour lose seats not just in Greater Manchester but in its heartlands around the UK, then all the blame by those same MPs will be lain at the feet of Corbyn and the cyclical mess will continue, people will just get more disillusioned with politics and MPs will continue to feather the nests and prime themselves for big paying consultancy jobs when they are eventually gotten rid of, all this while conveniently forgetting about how Labour has been wiped out in Scotland by exactly the same behaviour.

On a national scale, the worst thing about all of this is that you have a new level of patronisation, especially when every Tory and anti-Corbyn entity try to sound magnanimous by uttering “we need a strong opposition to us/the current government in check and better,” and as every TV channel and news services continues to do special programmes about the end of Labour.  These programmes are solely from a political/media point of view and have absolutely nothing to do with actual support within the general public, highlighting the growing gap and level of contempt that both the media and the current crop of politicians have for us plebs.

Many in the media use the term Populism in a negative way, safe way to explain an apparent rise in “right-wing” (Trump, UKIP, Leave winning the EU referendum, etc).  As you can see from the link description the term populism can be ascribed to any side of the political divide and this is the problem, and if you’ve sat at home blaming “stupid people” and “racists” for everything that has gone on in the UK recently than you are just as culpable as those who blame “immigrants” and “Europe” – it is a political malaise but hopefully the tide is turning to something more positive and hopeful.

Thanks for reading.

Petition against Neville’s Vanity Towers

P.S.

As I always feel a blog should have one picture and to show that I’m not actually right-wing myself, I post my latest results from Political Compass

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#BrewExit

The final part of my “Shitting on my Doorstep” trilogy.  Unless I do a Douglas Adams.

In fact I’m annoyed that I made the “They Live” comparison in Part 1 and then didn’t carry it on as I think “Escape from New York” would work well with Part 2 and then obviously “The Thing” for this piece, or vice versa, oh John Carpenter how I failed thee.

Also worth reading on a similar note (scarily so) to the first part but more coherently scribed is a piece by Boak & Bailey and this, by an actual local brewer (Beer Nouveau).

If you want to know just how many brewers there are in the county of Greater Manchester then this is the list I’m trying to maintain.

I’ve not made an update for a while, it is quite possibly some will be removed soon, either they never got started or they have been swallowed up by the competition locally and gone off to do something else.  Though I do note another one is starting up, coupled to a restaurant, I could be cynical about its reasons but it would be unfair to undercut a new business before it has even started.

One of the things I’ve noticed since starting the list and drinking more in central Manchester (the city centre to be precise) is the hold that only a specific amount of breweries have over a specific amount of bars and pubs.

I’m not talking about the family breweries (Holts, JW Lees, Robinsons & Hydes) with their own pubs and ties.  Nor am I talking about those newer breweries smart enough to expand their portfolios into pubs and bars.

No, it now seems that other venues in Manchester; those that regularly make “must visit” lists and that I freely admit will recommend if someone wants to know where to go, are themselves tied.  Some even appear to have dedicated lines.

In fact I could walk into any number of these bars and pubs and predict, baring the actual beer, which local breweries will be on offer from week to week.  Even more concerning is these bars will also feature the same reoccurring cast of breweries from further afield.

Good breweries making good beers are always going to have reserved space at any bar, but to me it seems that some places have lost any sense of adventure in getting in new, especially local, breweries.

The chances of me finding beers from the 50+ breweries not located in the centre of Manchester actually in city centre venues are virtually nil and there are only a select few from in Manchester itself that get a look in as it is anyway.

It is all a bit too cliquey and, though we are dealing with business, seems far removed from the grass-roots, against ties, against repetition mantra that you would associated with the real ale/craft beer movement.  Its almost as if there is a central Manchester cartel.

There are a plethora of breweries within the city centre of Manchester.  Being cynical this time I would happily suggest that a few of them are here because the rent is cheaper than London and the competition is less established, less well funded and therefore more easily crushed.  It wouldn’t really surprise me if breweries from London and elsewhere actually came and pitched up in central Manchester to give themselves an even firmer footing in the North.

These ‘bigger micros’ with their advertising and marketing budgets can court every starry-eyed beer journalist to give them cheap publicity and gushing praise which then easily feeds into the cyclical dog-whistle nature of people who drink only ‘craft’ because its on trend.

Conversely, these city centre breweries don’t seem to make it out into the sticks at all.  Granted small towns and cities can conceivably have a small and less “crafty” (errghh, sorry) drinking population, also these drinkers will have less money to spend, but from what I have observed this is rather myopic and slightly patronising.

Whereas keg beers would never really get a look in, there is a vast market for cask within the metropolitan county of Manchester that is relatively untapped by local breweries, and I’m not just talking about the city centre ones.

Of course you have your beer cities; London, Sheffield, Leeds, Liverpool, Newcastle with Edinburgh and Glasgow and possibly Nottingham up & coming and these are the big markets, it is always the priority to get a foothold in them.

Obviously these cities themselves have their own local breweries, especially our capital and so the competition is even more fierce.  Granted, it isn’t like you can just walk into a pub say which brewery you’re from and hand over a price sheet and wait for a call.

Actually, fuck that, it is that simple.  And people are always willing to pay a little extra from something a little different and especially something that is new.  Simple logistics to the people in pubs near me is that a return trip into Manchester will set you back about £5, so that fiver “saved” can be spent on slightly more expensive drinks.

I don’t expect businesses to have show any real loyalty to where they are brewing.  But there is a massively cynical exploitation (granted, of the easily exploitable) going on in Manchester.  It makes me wonder, given how many London breweries have sold up recently, if some of those in Manchester aren’t angling for a big pay-day sometime soon too.

 

Thanks for reading.

Manchester City Centre Centric

The second piece of my “Shitting on my Doorstep” trilogy.

Part 1 here

Recently and more frequently I’ve been asking myself; “if it wasn’t that I worked in the centre of Manchester, or more accurately travelled into and out of the city centre, would I actually drink there so regularly?”

The benefit of getting public transport into work isn’t that whole “cheaper, better for the environment, healthier” argument as, especially when it comes to the former and the latter, I don’t have to drive I can have a few drinks after work (or even during, the much maligned dinner/lunch-time pint).

But after I wrote this piece for Manchester Beer Week (an event I fully support and will promote heartily) I started the self-questioning.

It also kind of married up with the Allgates Bus Tour (old reviews here (2013) and here (2014)) which was held on the Easter weekend just as every brewery in and around Manchester opened their taps and there were beer launches galore.

Another tie-in is that the Guided Busway has now opened.  This white elephant transport solution is said to decrease public transport travel times between Leigh and Manchester (via Atherton and Tyldesley) courtesy spanking new buses.  It may work, it may not.  What has definitely happened though is that many previous bus services, especially night services to places such as Wigan, Swinton, Bolton, Walkden, Atherton, Tyldesley and Leigh, have been cut.

Meaning you will have to be out of Manchester by midnight, or face a very expensive taxi ride.

Or, as discussed with friends, just drink through until the first bus service leaves at 5am.

So a mixture of travel nonsense and localism (and maybe even nimbyism) has made me reconsider drinking in the centre of Manchester.  Well that and a twitter discussion I had over the weekend.

Upon the launch of one of a plethora of double IPA’s (DIPA) I noted that the price of a cask pint of one 8% DIPA was being quoted at £4.  Surprisingly cheap, both for Manchester and the strength of the beer but unsurprising given the pub that was serving it.  After further discussion it was found to also be on cask for £4.40 a pint – again not something I personally would feel aggrieved paying.  But the kicker came when I mentioned I’d seen exactly the same drink, on cask, not more than 15 minutes walk away from either of the previous locations, for £6 a pint.

All 3 places would be locations I would recommend a visit to should anyone ask me where were the best places to go to drink in Manchester are.  I probably still will but now maybe with caveats.

I’m not naive enough to not credit the business mind that makes as much money as they can off what is ostensibly, a captive market.  Nor am I going to suggest that “small town” prices are a panacea of equality, but with everything that has gone on over the passed few weeks it seems I’m regressing back into my more local drinking enclaves.

Manchester city centre is expanding and growing rapidly; 27 restaurants and bars are set to open in 2016 alone.  But just how many of these are up and coming local businesses?  I’m beginning to wonder if Manchester is increasingly losing any individuality and identity it used to have, especially when the news of new builds seems to come at the expense of our local heritage.

It is now possible that Manchester becomes a place I will rarely visit and I may well treat and regard much like the place it appears to be trying to turn into, London.

 

Thanks for reading.

My Favourite Pub(s) in Greater Manchester

I was asked to write this piece for Manchester Beer Week and figured whereas most of the focus will generally and inevitably be towards the city centre of Manchester, there is a whole metropolitan county erroneously formed in 1974 to focus on and whereas I’ve visited some great pubs in Bolton, Bury, Oldham, Rochdale, Stockport, Tameside, Trafford and the cities of Manchester and Salford my drinking life began and very much remains in the borough of Wigan.

So as the evil claws of Wigan council look to stick their crest on every street sign and strip away any semblance of history and independent identity from those towns unfortunate enough to fall into their dark embrace I’d first like to make some honourable mentions:

The White Lion in Leigh and the Jolly Nailor in Atherton are excellent pubs.  Also of note is now the sadly lost Dog and Partridge in Bolton.  All have/had a fine range of beers and a warm welcome.

There are many others too but this is written as a piece of history; an ode to the first pubs I drank in and more importantly, still do to this day.

Union Arms, Tyldesley

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I find this pub to be quite an unorthodox shape.  It is a largish pub, though deceptively so as a central bar (with 2 main bars and a smaller one) services 5 distinct rooms but all are open plan so as not to be cut-off from each other.

Entrance through the main door generally takes me through to the right-hand side of the pub, up a couple of stairs to one of the main bars and a large room with an additional raised seated section, where bands sometimes play.  It used to house the pool table (now strangely absent) and a jukebox.   When I first started going in the main barmaid (who curiously still does some shifts there) used to whack on 20 free credits, select 3 songs and then leave the rest for myself and my comrades.

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From this side of the pub you could then go up another small step to another area of about 4 tables where the toilets are located along with the smallest bar and the staircase up to the landlords accommodation.

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Down a couple of stairs and you would be greeted by a small room that kept the table football and lots of football (mainly Manchester United) memorabilia.

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This opens up into the other main bar which had a lot more tables and a dart board.  Some gamblers and quiz machines were dotted around the pub.

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As you can see, bench seating is prevalent in this pub.

The pub served (and still serves) a range of keg Thwaites products and Warsteiner can be counted amongst its lager offerings.  After a change of ownership there are now 6 cask lines available, along with the “usual” international suspects.

The Pendle Witch, Atherton

Tucked down an alley from the main town centre, the Pendle is a rather small pub, though a few large alterations opened the pub out while also brightening it up and, along with the ban of 2006, made it less smoky (oddly something I seldom noticed in the Union).

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There is a beer garden to the back while the pub consists of one large room, a conservatory and a slightly smaller room where you’ll find a pool table.

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There is a jukebox, which due to the nature of most of the regulars will play heavy metal on very heavy rotation.  It is a Moorhouse’s brewery pub and their beers make up 5 of the 10 casks on offer.

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There is a wide, wide selection of international bottled beers at stupidly cheap prices and these go hand-in-hand with the regularly held bottle tasting events.

The pubs mentioned here are all great example of a public house with a good beer selection, cheap prices, welcoming atmosphere and a wide mix of drinkers; young, old, regular and passing trade but above all they are actually proper pubs.

What does that mean?

For me it is just a place I’d feel as comfortably in as I would my own home.  A place for both solitude and friendship and above all, a decent drink.  In writing about these pubs I could never possibly sum up just how important they are to me because pubs are more than just a place to that serves beer; they are part of the fabric of my life, integral to communities and they are worth fighting to keep because they are always more than just bricks and mortar.

Thanks for reading.