Manchester Union Brewery has released a video on what makes its lager so special, as well as the appeal of the city as a brewing hub.
The film is narrated by local poet Mike Garry and tells the story of what makes Manchester and the lager so special, including the story behind the logo, which is inspired by the city’s coat of arms.
The UK now has more than 2,000 breweries, 80 in Greater Manchester and 29 operating breweries in the city of Manchester itself.
When broken down by population, the UK has 3.04 breweries per 100,000 people, compared to 1.96 breweries in the states. Manchester, by comparison, has 5.67 breweries per 100,000 people — nearly double the national average — but Will Evans, of Manchester Union Brewery, thinks there’s plenty of room for more.
He said: “Compared to the big brewing cities in the States, we’ve barely started. Portland, Maine, has 36 breweries per 100,000 people, and their independent beer scene is massively vibrant. We’re getting there, though. Not only is the number of breweries here a sign of optimism, but the quality too.
“Cloudwater was listed as the world’s second best brewery in 2017, and if you think they’ve peaked, wait until their barrel programme really starts kicking in. Track’s Sonoma pale ale is widely touted as a modern icon, picking up the baton as a defining pale ale of Manchester after Boddingtons so spectacularly dropped it, not too long after being acquired by drinks giant AB InBev.
If cask is your thing, you can try Sonoma in both keg or cask, and beers like this helped Manchester earn the accolade of cask beer capital of Britain from CAMRA.
Will added: “I’ve also had some great beers recently from Wander Beyond, and Mark over at Runaway has been producing solid beers for over five years. There’s really an abundance of quality, not just in the city, but in Greater Manchester as a whole.”
Water from the Lake District
The key to the beer quality is the water. The water that is used to produce 95% of the beer in Manchester is carried all the way from the Lake District. The hard, non-porous stone mountains there are ideal for collecting water as everything literally runs off the mountain and into the reservoirs — it’s like collecting pure rainwater.
Munich is famous for lager — all six Oktoberfest breweries (Paulaner and Augustiner being the biggest) champion the soft water they draw from melted glacier water 200m below the city, and Manchester’s water is even softer than that.
Jamie Scahill, of Manchester Union Brewery, said: “We have the birth of the Industrial Revolution in Manchester to thank for our water. In order to keep the wheels of industry turning, Manchester completed the installation of a revolutionary new aqueduct in 1897, carrying Lake District water 154km, all under its own gravity, direct to Manchester.
“What’s more, our brewhouse uses a bespoke design to allow us to brew in a very traditional way. It’s a way the best Czech and other central European lager breweries produce lager. It takes longer and is more costly, but it creates what we believe is a much better lager, full of body but without too much sweetness. We then hop it to give it the bitterness of a modern IPA.”