What is it I hear you ask? Well it's a collaboration between some of the newer and maybe trendier Manchester brewers to "celebrate our brewing community". And why not? While London is getting many of the plaudits, up here in Manchester we have been getting on with it for years and produce, dare I say it, beers that are the equal of the best London breweries and in fact, much better in many, many cases. There were two events - one for breweries near Piccadilly Station and one for those in what was called the Green Quarter - a term I have never heard of - but turns out to be the area near Victoria Station. So that's all good. I bought into the Saturday one which was the Piccadilly gig. A tenner got you a drink at five breweries, a map of brewery locations, a badge to wear and a fetching pint glass to add to the too many I already have. Still, even if it did mean lugging it about, it meant drinking out of a decent glass. That's good too. The price was excellent value as it included, should you wish, brewery tours, tastings and the like which had to be pre-booked. Well done on that front.
I started at the new Cloudwater Brewery which I was keen to see. Now I've been to countless breweries and they can pall after a bit, but I am a sucker for stainless steel and I'd seen the photos of this bespoke plant. In a very large warehouse type unit it certainly looked the part and I joined a party that was being given the spiel by one of the brewers, Paul Jones and enjoyed what was an informative and interesting discussion which included sampling some beers straight from conditioning tanks. Quite a novel feature and while I liked some beers, I wasn't so keen on others. In particular the sours didn't do too much for me, but maybe with age in a bit of oak that might well change. I did really enjoy the Märzen, brewed in collaboration with Camden, which had the mouthfeel and colour of the style with a very clever touch of hopping to lift it to a much higher level. I really appreciated too the chance to talk with Paul afterwards. As well as being a thoroughly nice fellow. He has some fine ideas about brewing. The whole place exudes professionalism and it is done with charm and appeal. I liked it.
After a few (too many) more Märzens and a chat to Manchester Beer Royalty in the form of Beer4John, I was joined by E and we set off on the fairly long trek to Ardwick and Squawk Brewery. We liked it there - oddly homely - with an unusual assortment of mismatched second hand sofas and chairs, it was a comfortable (if very quiet setting) in which to enjoy our beer. Cask and keg on offer here and the beer was very good. Breweries came thick and fast then with Privateer where I enjoyed cask Dark Revenge, a railway related discussion with the brewer and a loll outside in the sun with its shades of Bermondsey Beer Mile - but again very quiet in terms of customers, Alphabet which was much busier with Expo Explorers awaiting the "Meet the Brewer" and tasting event. Keg only these I recall and not really to my taste, though I did enjoy the atmosphere here, with plenty of room and street food. Finally and very near Piccadilly Station was Track (cask and keg here) where we again bumped into Mr Clarke propping up the bar. I can't tell you which beers I had in the the last two as when I'm enjoying myself, my notebook, as usual, didn't leave my pocket - one of the many reasons I am one of the least reliable reporters of beery events around. Also, I may or may not have had one too many by then. I'm not saying
All in all a good day out. Superb value for money especially if you signed up for tours and tastings and if they do it again, count me in. I'll be sure to fire up my notebook too.
Oddly apart from a few CAMRA types, mainly at the first and last breweries, I met hardly anyone I know. It was though a pleasure to see so many enjoying the beers and talking and learning about the process.
As you see from the photo London Murky is present in Manchester too. Fortunately only in one brewery.