Given that to most minds Manchester is one of the foremost beer cities in the country with a great cask and craft scene, there are relatively few beery events held here by the trade. Well few that I'm invited to anyway. It was therefore welcome and unusual to get an invitation to a Wine and Beer Tasting by locally based importers Morganrot held on one of the upper floors of the very trendy Home Building in one of the more trendy areas of Manchester, Tony Wilson Place -'nuff said - which, needless to say, I don't know at all well.
I took E along for support and had a look at what was on offer. A simple programme showed mainly Spanish beers with a sprinkling from Sweden, Germany and Malta. The noticeable thing about the Spanish offerings was their similarity. All seemed to have a Pale Ale, an American Pale Ale, an IPA, an Amber Ale and either a stout or a porter. Now this isn't a problem, but does make you wonder a little why you'd go to the trouble as a small microbrewer to export such universally available products. I guess the answer is, that despite the oddities of the beer world that we see so often, that's what sells.
I tried most of them and it has to be said, though none were particularly bad, none really stood out. The pick of the bunch were the porters and stouts with a stunning cigar smoke smoked stout from oddly named Swedish brewers, Pang Pang and very competent offerings from others. For those interested in such things, Spanish brewers included Mala Gissona, Cervecera Artesana and LaPirata.
I also had a very informative chat with the Krombacher folks and in particular liked their attempt at a Southern German Weissbier, though I doubt that they'll be trembling in their shoes in Bavaria just yet. Likewise Sleeman Railside Session Pale is not going to cause anyone producing a domestic bog standard pale ale to have sleepless nights over this tame offering and it does make you wonder about the wisdom of trunking this kind of stuff across the Atlantic, other than novelty value. So what do we learn? Craft beer is by no means exempt from "boring brown bitter" syndrome, dark beers often present better than pale and does anyone actually like amber ale?
The best beer of the show? The delicious Cisk Lager from Malta, was honest, fresh and tasty and at the right price-point would be a great addition to certain outlets. That's the kind of beer that still really sells, but for complexity, the Cigar Smoke Stout pips it. For a different market of course.
My thanks to Morganrot for a very entertaining couple of hours. E enjoyed the wine too.
Lastly, we went after to Gasworks Brew Bar and Kitchen next door. I liked it and more of this later.
A bit of a CV. Tandleman is a veteran beer lover, local CAMRA Chairman and activist, beer writer, beer reviewer and pursuer of all things good in beer. He lives in the North West of England and London. Despite his CAMRA membership, he does not limit himself to cask conditioned beer, though he believes that cask conditioning, when done correctly and appropriately, brings a quality to beer that is hard to equal by any other kind of presentation. He is a strong supporter of Northern methods of beer dispense and avidly detests poorly presented beer and dislikes pasteurisation. He regularly visits Germany, has conducted corporate British and German beer tastings for CAMRA at the Great British Beer Festival where he has worked for years on Biere Sans Frontieres and was Deputy Organiser at CAMRA's very successful National Winter Ales Festival in 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2012 and at the Manchester Beer and Cider Festival from 2013 to date. He admires good brewers wherever they are and has travelled extensively in pursuit of good beer to drink.
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