The launch of Saison de la Maison, debut beer of Balance at Cafe Beermoth was an excuse for Manchester’s beerati to come out in force. As with the arrival six weeks before (at Port Street Beer House) of another stunning new brewing operation, Sureshot it felt like confirmation the beer scene was sticking its head properly above the parapet.
The recessionary odds are still stacked against all our breweries surviving the year. Heaven knows my hophead compadres and I are doing out best to support them. Which bring us to the restoration of beer festivals as a thing. From the traditional CAMRA-run variety such as the Stockport Beer Festival (June 16-18) to arguably the UK’s premier ‘craft’ event, Indy Man Beer Con ushering in autumn at Victoria Baths (September 29-October 2).
You’ll get a tempting taster at crafty cousin, Summer Beer Thing (June 24-26), which post-pandemic has decamped to Kampus, where the weekend food options will be a notch up on its previous Pilcrow incarnation. Ballast will be courtesy of Nell’s Pizza, Levanter and recent Kampus arrival Pollen alongside soon-to-be neighbours Madre and Great North Pie Co. Expect a showcase of diverse beer styles plus cocktails, wine and non-alcoholic tipples, if you must.
Hip rival Mayfield Depot is also getting in on the act by hosting the return of Manchester Craft Beer Festival across the weekend of July 22-23. featuring over 50 top end breweries.
Expect fire pit food and sizzling sounds from Goldie and David Holmes. All a bit high octane for me and to get full value beerwise out of the £55 session ticket you have to be a very canny queue hopper. The likes of Marble, Track and Union Lager are representing Manchester but this is very much a festival brand that straddles several UK cities.
Another metropolitan cuckoo on our patch is Camden Town Brewery, whose latest Tank Party Roadshow is nesting at Escape to Freight Island on Friday, June 24 and Saturday 25.A single brewery tour hardly counts as a festival, even coming with its own raft of DJ and street(ish) food. The selling point is its unfiltered version of Hells Lager with an estimated 23,000 pints being poured ‘fresh from the tank’ during the Party’s parade across the UK. Camden’s owners, ABV Inbev, the world’s largest brewing operation, sure know how to market a very ordinary product.
My own properly indie dream is for a return of our own Cloudwater’s Friends, Family and Beer, which did what it said on the can by bringing to town equally renowned breweries they have collborated with cross the globe. After glitches first time around the sophomore event at Manchester Central in February 2020 was the most exciting beer celbration I’ve ever attended. And the good news? I ran into Cloudwater founder Paul Jones at the Balance launch and he intimated Friends and Family my reassemble in 2023.
Meanwhile, two smaller scale events that are perfect for my modest beer needs.
The first four days in September mark the return of Farm Trip. Venue a hilltop farm-based brewery I have lauded previously – Rivington, high above Horwich. For its outstanding views and brews. The Brewing Co’s first Trip was hastily assembled in 2021; the follow-up more measured, promising 120 beers poured through 41 lines. Do check it out.
Such an exposed spot has it weather risks. That’s not the case with Track’s large and stylish taproom in Ardwick, Manchester and, in case it’s sunny, they’ve just opened a new garden. The beers, too, are as good as it gets but food offerings have failed to match their quality so far. Until now with the arrival of ‘Disco Cauliflower’ as part of a kitchen takeover (Friday, June 17, 5pm-10pm and Saturday 18, 1pm-10pm) by Liverpool based restaurant group Maray, who are promoting their new Manchester venue in Lincoln Square, set to open this summer. One of those arrivals you file as ‘much anticipated’.
Three of their staple dishes will put in an appearance – their flagship falafel; hummus, chermoula and flatbread; and disco cauliflower (3,000 of these are sold each month in Liverpool). To accompany there’s collab beer Track have brewed for the new restaurant. Maray PA is described as‘Sunshine caught in a can! Bright zesty lemon gives way to gentle ebbs of white grape and grapefruit for a truly thirst quenching pale ale.” You’ll also be able to buy it in cans from bottle shops in between festivals!
CELEBRATE MANCHESTER’S PREMIUM INDIE BREWERIES AT TRACK
Check individual festival websites for ticket sales. Such is the thirst many sessions are already sold out.