Organisers of Manchester Beer and Cider Festival are pushing the limits of choice
Drinkers heading for the North’s biggest beer and cider celebration are also heading for a problem. The choice of real ales, modern keg, foreign beers, cider and perry may overwhelm them…
The Manchester Beer and Cider festival marks its fifth year with an outstanding menu of the best brewers and producers can muster. This year, 22 bars will serve 750 different examples sure to appeal to lovers of traditional British ales, those seeking the cutting edge of modern brewing and fans of foreign beer styles. With ciders, perrys, fruit wines, mead and handmade sodas, there’s sure to be a drink for every taste.
The festival will offer a massive choice of over 650 beers from around the world (plus 103 ciders and perrys). The range of modern keg beers from both the UK and overseas will be the largest ever. However, as you would expect from an event organised by the nine Greater Manchester branches of the Campaign For Real Ale (CAMRA), the focus is on cask-conditioned beers with almost 400 to choose from.
Three huge cask bars will occupy the width of the former rail station, Manchester Central offering a massive range of strengths and styles. Established brewers such as Marble Beers, Magic Rock, Salopian and Thornbridge will be pouring next to newcomers including Manchester’s own Pomona Island and Wander Beyond and Runcorn’s Chapter Brewing.
The beer selection runs from session supping ales like Track’s 3.0% ‘Equanot’ up to those definitely intended to be savoured – such as the 10.6% ‘Belgian Quad in Bourbon’ from Leeds’ Legitimate Industries (headed up by former Marble Beers head brewer Matt Howgate). Another beer to be sipped rather than supped is also likely to be one of the most popular – a return to the cask beer format for Cloudwater who will be offering up ‘Wizard King’, a 12% Belgian Imperial Stout brewed in collaboration with Manchester’s Port Street Beer House.
New to the festival this year is The Hundred Club, a bar dedicated to brewers who have stood the ultimate test – of time. All the brewers on the bar can boast over 100 years of brewing providence. Harvey’s of Lewes in Sussex leads the way with a mere 228 years behind them while Greater Manchester’s four family brewers Hydes, Joseph Holt, JW Lees and Robinsons have racked up almost seven centuries between them. But that’s not to say they are resting on their laurels – JW Lees will launch their new permanent ‘Stout’ at the festival.
Chiswick brewer Fullers will bring casks of its ‘Imperial Stout’ and ‘Vintage Ale’, normally only found in bottles. Harvey’s ‘Sussex Best Bitter’ and ‘Prince of Denmark’ which both proved big hits with festival visitors in 2017 will return, joined by a unique cask version of ‘Wharf IPA’, elsewhere found as a keg beer.
Also appearing on the same bill, the Little Ireland bar nods to a historic area of Manchester close to the festival site while showcasing beers from the new breed of brewers from the big Ireland across the sea. Beers curated from North and South of the border include cask, key-keg and keg examples. Amongst the selection from Northern Ireland is ‘The Dankness’ from County Down’s Bullhouse Brewery – recently voted Beer Of The Festival at the Belfast Beer Festival – plus ‘Wreckin’ Crew’, a 5.5% collaboration brew from Belfast’s Farmageddon with Welsh brewers Waen and Hopcraft. Meanwhile Portrush’s Lacada offers ‘Shore Dulse Stout’, where the secret ingredient is none other than seaweed. Not to be outdone, brewers in the Republic of Ireland are sending some special beers including ‘Bourbon Milkshake Stout’ from Dublin’s Rascals brewery while Eight Degrees Brewing from County Cork offer up ‘The Full Irish IPA’.
Fans of modern keg and key-keg beers won’t be disappointed. Although typically served colder and with higher carbonation than cask beers, unlike the keg beers of the 1970s modern keg beers retain and celebrate the same flavours that makes cask ale so tasty. The festival’s The Font bar will offer 30 taps serving some of the most modern and innovative beer styles. Whether it’s a ‘Gin Sour ‘from Newcastle’s Box Social Brewing or ‘Twisted Thai’d Thai’ , a saison with lemongrass, chilli, galangal, black pepper and lime from Liverpool’s Neptune brewery, there’s no shortage of flavours to be tried. The bar will also see the launch of ‘Altered State – Orange Acid IPA’ , the result of a collaboration between Track Brewing Co and the bar teams from Manchester’s three The Font bars.
The choice doesn’t stop there. Twelve brewery bars will offer visitors a choice of cask and keg beers often served by the brewers themselves – debutants Thirst Class Ales, Mallinsons and Bridgehouse being joined by festival favourites Hawkshead, Brightside, Blackjack and Tiny Rebel.
There will be more brewers on hand serving on the Barcelona Beer Festival stand with the partnership between these two international festivals bringing five brewers from Spain’s north east to showcase their beers at the festival. Two further bars of international beers will bring a superb range of beers from Belgium, Germany, Czech Republic, Sweden, the USA, New Zealand, Australia and more.
Alongside the ales, there’ll be new street food traders supplementing the best from 2017. Returning are favourites Viva La Toastie, while popular Manchester treats from Beehive Foods will make a first appearance. Old Granary Pierogi promise Polish delights including a vegetarian menu, while Waygu Lookin’ At? will bring some premium beef – Japanese Kobi beef all the way from Yorkshire. Another trader from over the hill, Pickled Porker Smokehouse wll feature their Yorkshire Tapas grazing boards. Howdah Foods last seen at the Rochdale Beer Festival will bring moreish home-made Indian snacks. And the Steep Soda Company will provide fantastic options for any designated drivers.
Manchester Beer and Cider Festival runs from Thursday 25th to Saturday 27th January 2018 at Manchester Central. Tickets for entry and special tasting events are on sale at the festival’s website, www.mancbeerfest.uk
The full list of UK Beers is here: mancbeerfest.uk/beers-ciders/uk-beers/
Notes to editors:
1. The Manchester Beer & Cider Festival is organised by the nine Greater Manchester branches of the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA).
2. The festival will be open to the public on Thursday 25th, Friday 26th and Saturday 27th January 2018. Detailed opening times; Thursday 12pm – 10.30pm; Friday 12pm – 10.30pm; Saturday 12pm – 7pm.
3. Tickets for the festival are on sale via mancbeerfest.uk, Eventbrite.co.uk and facebook.com/manchesterbeerfestival. Tickets are also available for tutored tastings.
4. The 2017 festival attracted 13,588 visitors to Manchester Central last January.
5. There will be a trade/CAMRA members only preview evening between 5pm and 9pm on Wednesday 24th January. This will incorporate a press reception. Media organisations can be added to the invitation list by contacting firstname.lastname@example.org
6. Follow us for all the latest news: facebook.com/manchesterbeerfestival and @MancBeerFest.