Not content with lining up an incredible line up of some of beers from some of the best breweries around, the festival is set to feature a number of collaboration brews with top brewers coming together specially to brew new beers for the festival.
Tuesday 6th January was a big day for these special brews with no fewer than three being completed in one day. The day began when one of the festivals bar managers, Caroline O’Donnell, headed to Rochdale’s Pictish Brewery for a 5am “mash in” with owner and brewer Paul Wesley.
Pictish Brewery were one of the pioneers of the microbrewery revolution in Manchester whose unashamed hop forward beers provided inspiration to brewers such as James Campbell (ex Marble, now Cloudwater) and Colin Strong (Buxton).
The beer they came up with is the appropriately named “Tandem”, a 4.2% pale & hoppy brew featuring two malts & two hops – Pacific Gem from New Zealand and Cascade from the USA.
As Paul & Caroline mashed in, Matt Clarke, head brewer of the multi-award winning Hawkshead Brewery was setting off from his Lake District home heading to Manchester to meet up with his counterpart at Marble Beers – Matthew Howgate – for what is set to be one of the most highly anticipated beers brewed in Manchester for some time.
This will be the second time these two breweries have collaborated, the previous occasion being in 2012 when Matt Clarke & Marble’s then head brewer James Cambell produced Little Evelyn, a 7% American IPA named after Matt’s daughter.
The brewers were being tight lipped about exactly what they were brewing up, but Hawkshead’s twitter feed let slip, tweeting “Think a mash up of Lagonda IPA and Cumbrian Five Hop….lots of hops!” Given that Lagonda has a string of awards to it’s name and Cumbrian Five Hop was voted “Champion Beer Of The North West” last year, beer fans are in for a treat.
The third brew of the day took place in Bury when Amanda Seddon from Middleton’s Wilson Potter Brewery joined up with Alex Lord of Outstanding Beers to brew up the intriguingly named “Honey Badger”. Fresh honey will be added to the brew during fermentation to produce a beer which the brewers describe as “Pale amber coloured with aromatic malt, light hops & sweet honey”.
The week of collaborative brews got underway in East Yorkshire on Monday when on of the most exciting new names of Scottish brewing, Edinburgh’s Elixir Brewing Company joined up with Hull’s Atom Beers who have grown massively after only launching just over one year ago. The resultant beer named Devil’s Bilge Water is a bit of a beast, weighing in at 7% ABV. A smokey porter style beer, a special secret mix of spices has been added to give a unique flavour. Despite the heritage of the beer, it will make it’s debut on the right side of the Pennines and Hadrian’s Wall at Manchester Beer & Cider Festival.
After the big brew day on Tuesday, on Wednesday the focus turned to Horwich for another important brew day. The festival has again teamed up with Real Radio XS to produce a special festival ale which this year has been brewed by BlackEdge brewery in Horwich. In commemoration of 100 years since the great war, brewers Shaun & Wayne have planned a golden session ale combining hops from Britain & Germany. The station’s Steve Berry headed to the recently expanded brewery to discuss the brew while listeners to the classic rock station on 106.1 FM have the opportunity to name the beer by entering a competition.
On Thursday 8th, Dan Tasker from Hebden Bridge’s Bridestones Brewing Company hosted brewster Michelle Kelsall of Crewe based Offbeat Brewery. They cooked up Sprocket Wort Orange, a dark and fruity beer with chocolate, orange & juniper with sorachi ace hops added for good measure.
Finally, on Saturday 10th January, CAMRA’s Regional Director and festival hospitality manager Andrew Rodbourne joined fellow festival volunteer Mark Reeves at Salford’s First Chop Brewery to mash in on the final collaboration of the week with head brewer Rik Garner.
Last (or first on the timeline), in this incredible line up of collaboration brews saw the hand of friendship extended in the War Of The Roses with Yorkshire’s Ilkley Brewery coming over to Manchester in December to brew with brewer Rich Andrews at Blackjack Beers. Their beer, Betting Cap, is described as a very hoppy amber ale made with the Belgian yeast which is becoming a signature of Rich’s Blackjack brews and Galaxy, Chinook, Belma and Columbus hops.