Time was there used to be a new brewery opening every month in Manchester with cosy taprooms hard on their heels. That torrent of craft has slowed to a trickle with the emphasis now on established operations upsizing to bigger premises. Track are shifting up to Piccadilly Trading Estate opposite Cloudwater while both Beatnikz Republic and Blackjack have expanded into neighbouring arches.
Bucking the trend (though it has, appropriately, had the gestation period of an Indian elephant), is the Bundobust Brewery, which is opening from 4pm on Thursday, September 16, offering the group’s full repertoire of Gujarati street snacks and craft beer, much of it their own, created on the premises. So the kind of major, major opening we’ve been starved of. And it’s dog-friendly. Our chihuahua Captain Smidge (below left) approved even though spicy veggie is not quite his thing.
It’s located in the Grade II-listed St James Building on Oxford Street, a swift stagger from Oxford Road Station or the St Peter’s Square Metrolink stop.
The last time I was on site was February 12, 2020 and we all know what inhibiting factor for hospitality happened shortly after. Kitted out in a hard hat, I quickly recognised why Bundobust co-founders Marko Husak and Mayur Patel had fallen for the former car park with its wealth of period features – vintage alarm bells, glazed bricks and ‘Drive Slowly’ signage – plus a show-stopping giant glass atrium mirroring the Piccadilly Bundobust’s glass apex.
This is all on a much bigger scale, influenced by US brewpubs and with a focus on sustainable furniture. Each chair is made from 40 recycled plastic water bottles, while school desks have been repurposed into beer hall-style tables, complete with “I Woz ‘Ere” etchings across a 150-seat taproom and restaurant. All within a fully-functioning brewery that gleams with all the allure of a new toy. A toy that’s in the hands of a very experienced head brewer.
Dan Hocking, former main man at Holland’s world-renowned Uiltje Brewery, has spent the past year perfecting recipes behind closed doors in the state-of-the-art facility.
Bundobust’s brand new Vienna-style Lager, Cartway Lager, will be available exclusively at the brewery upon opening, taking its name from the historic ‘Cartway’ space within the St James Building that the brewery occupies. Hocking says: “Vienna Lager has a fantastic balance of sweetness and bitterness, and it’s the best all-rounder beer style to pair with food”.
On the opening day the first 200 pints are being given away, with the purchase of food and we expect lager demand will make it Goodnight Vienna.
Marko tells me: “We were due to open in May 2020. The past 18 months have slowed us down, but the delay has meant that we’ve been able to develop our beer recipes. Expect the familiar Bundobust vibe and menu, with the bonus of being in a working brewery”.
That 10-hectolitre custom-build is capable of producing 20,000 pints per month. The beer range will only be available, on rotation, at the Brewery and at the other Bundobust venues in Manchester, Liverpool and Leeds. They are designed to partner the award-winning food.
CHAITRO. 5% Nitro Chai Porter. Smooth and creamy Porter with roast malts, a whack of our Bundobust chai masala, and fresh ginger.
PEELA. 4% Pale Ale. Easy drinking hazy Pale, brewed with Azacca and Ekuanot hops. Loads of tropical fruit flavour.
DHANIA PILSNER. 4.8% Coriander Lager. Clean and crisp Czech-style Pilsner with a hit of citrusy toasted coriander seeds.
KIPSY BHAI. 4.8% Kellerbier. Traditional Kellerbier-style lager with German malts and hops. Clean, balanced and crisp.
EAST IS EAST. 6.5% New England IPA. New England-style IPA showcasing ever-changing combinations of the freshest hops.
WEST IS WEST. 6.5% West Coast IPA. Dank and bitter IPA. Piney and resinous, brewed with a rotating selection of the choicest hops. An absolute stand-out.
Bundobust Brewery will also be collaborating with the cream of UK brewery talent. Recent collaborations include Andhera Hoppy Black Lager with Deya Brewing Company, New Delhi Dazzler India Pale Wit with Northern Monk, and Salted Lemon Sour with North Brewing Co.
On a personal note, I have a small role in the Bundobust Odyssey. I was an early reviewer, for Shortlist magazine, of Marko’s pioneering Sparrow Bier Cafe in Bradford, ensuring it made the Top 10 UK craft beer bars, and as a customer wolfed my share of dosas, choles and chaats at Prasad, the Patel family’s acclaimed restaurant, now in Drighlington. In 2014 the two friends combined beer and veggie small plates to create the first Bundobust in Leeds (yes, Zelig-like I was there). The Brewery is just the latest chapter in a delicious indie story.