Manchester Beer Week (23 Jun-2 Jul) continues to push the boundaries with offbeat brewer/food combos

Beer and doughnuts. Does it work for you? Beatnikz Republic obviously think it will or they wouldn’t have come up with such an array of offbeat pairing combos as their contribution to the imminent Manchester Beer Week (which also gives a debut to a ‘langoustine ale’, of which more anon), from 23 June to 2 July.

For this ‘Doughnut and Beer Pairing Party’ Manchester Doughnut Co are supplying three of their signature treats to accompany three appropriate one-off brews. It’s on Saturday, June 24 at the Beatnikz Republic Taproom up on Red Bank.

The three pairings are Sour Passionfruit Doughnut Beer with Passionfruit Doughnut;  Pecan Doughnut Porter paired with Maple Bacon Doughnut; and Cherry & Chocolate Doughnut with Bourbon Jelly paired with Russian Riot (Beatnikz’ Russian Imperial Stout with cherries, muscovado sugar and bourbon oak).

All this is a far remove from the gustatory conservatism of old-style beer festivals in the city, where a chilli baked spud might be your best bet to accompany your gill of Old Tosser.

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The official beer of Manchester Beer Week is a ‘breakfast’ pale ale brewed by Blackjack

IndyManBeerCon broke the mould (tickets for the fifth autumn ‘craft convention’ have just gone on sale), but the citywide MCR Beer Week is pushing the boundaries, too, its inaugural success consolidated by this follow-up ten day festival (June 23-July 2) with a strong concentration on Beer with Food.

Six further Manchester breweries are collaborating with independent food producers. Discover the results at a relaxed food and drinks fair at Runaway Brewery on Sunday, June 25.

Each team has been charged with creating a drink designed to reflect the unique approach and flavours of the producer involved.

From Marble and Holy Crab there’s Langoustine and Pineapple Gose (a sour style from Eastern Germany); Cloudwater and from Ginger’s Comfort Emporium a Chocolate Salted Caramel Imperial Stout, which Ginger’s own Claire Kelsley is going to make vegan ice cream with, for service as a beer ice cream float.

Cloudwater Brewery
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Cloudwater (above) have teamed up with Claire Kelsey of Ginger's Comfort Emporium

Runaway and Pollen Bakery have come up with a White Oatmeal Stout conditioned over whole coffee beans and cocoa nibs, inspired by Pollen's Oat Porridge Soughdough, brewed using almost 50 percent oats including a proportion of freshly roasted flaked porridge oats from the bakery ovens. To complete the full Pollen experience, they're adding flavours to represent one of their super rich chocolate brownies, and a fresh coffee. 

Manchester Brewing and Manchester Gin have gone for a New England style IPA single hopped with Citra, with citrus peel in it as well, plus fermented with Boddingtons yeast. The citrus additions are designed to reflect the citrus botanicals in Manchester Gin.

Finally, Chorlton Brew Co and Moss Cider have collaborated in a dry-hopped cider, while Beer Nouveau and Real Junk Food Manchester’s Grapefruit IPA, and an Apricot & Basil IPA are both using waste fruit and herbs.

2017 Pollen Owners
Pollen will contribute roasted flaked porridge oats to Runaway's stout

“This is one of the most exciting things to emerge from this year’s Manchester Beer Week because it’s really encouraging to see a variety of the city’s independent producers are so willing to work together to create something special for the people of this city,” said MCR Beer Week organiser Connor Murphy. 

“This idea grew from a chat with Mark Welsby, the brewer at Runaway, who suggested it would be interesting to break the usual mould of brewers collaborating with other brewers. Since then, it has taken a life of its own and has really helped to strengthen the sense of community and cooperation around the city’s independent beer and food scene.”

All the creations will be available on the bar at Runaway on June 25, between 12pm and 6pm, and food traders will be on site to serve up tasty treats throughout the day. A series of tastings and talks will also be hosted by each collaborating duo to explain the inspirations and processes behind each drink.

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Bock Biere Cafe is up for 'Best New Bar'

It wouldn’t be a celebration of Manchester beer without an Awards, so Murphy and a panel of independent experts (including yours truly) have drawn up eight shortlists for the inaugural Greater Manchester Beer Awards. The public can vote on all eight categories until July 2 and the gongs will be given out a couple of weeks later. Here they are:

Best bar: Brink (Manchester), Cafe Beermoth (Manchester), Heaton Hops (Heaton Moor).

Best pub: The Magnet (Stockport), Marble Arch (Manchester), The Smithfield Tavern (Manchester).

Best new pub/bar: Bock Biere Cafe (Manchester), The Mounting Stone (Bramhall), Petersgate Tap (Stockport), The Pilcrow (Manchester), Reasons to be Cheerful (Burnage).

Best beer range: Brink (Manchester), Cafe Beermoth (Manchester), The Magnet (Stockport), Port Street Beer House(Manchester), The Smithfield Tavern (Manchester).

Best restaurant beer range: Bundobust (Manchester), Hispi (Didsbury), Hawksmoor (Manchester), Volta (West Didsbury).

Best independent beer retailer: Beermoth (Manchester), Bottle (Heaton Moor), Epicurean (West Didsbury).

Best brewery: Chorlton Brewing Co (Manchester), Cloudwater Brew Co (Manchester), Marble (Manchester), Thirst Class (Stockport), Track Brewing Co (Manchester).

Best brewery tap: Blackjack Brewtap (Manchester), Cloudwater Barrel Store (Manchester), Track Brewery Tap (Manchester).

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Volta has been nominated for 'Best Restaurant Beer Range'

We’ll be doing a full preview of Manchester Beer Week, which is still evolving. Check their website for updates.

From 6pm on Wednesday, June 23, Rain Bar is hosting a debate on ‘Is cask beer still integral to Manchester’s brewing growth?’ Panellists include JW Lees head brewer Michael Lees-Jones, Cloudwater co-founder Paul Jones and Runaway Brewery head brewer and owner Mark Welsby.

This is also your first opportunity to try two beers being launched for the festival.

The first is the official beer of Manchester Beer Week, a ‘breakfast’ pale ale brewed by Blackjack Brewery in collaboration with Co-op, and the new collaboration created by JW Lees and Cloudwater Brew Co. 

The £5 ticket gets you three halves of cask beer – Manchester Beer Week’s official beer, the JW Lees collaboration with Cloudwater, and JW Lees’ award-winning strong ale Moonraker.

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Beer Nouveau will host 'Hops Not Hate' fundraiser

Hops Not Hate bomb appeal fundraiser at Beer Nouveau 

Manchester’s close-knit brewing fraternity are coming together to raise cash for the families fund established in the wake of the Manchester Arena bombing. It’s small beer compared with the One Love Concert but is further evidence of the compassion that has touched every corner of the city.

This Hops Not Hate event is organised by Steve Dunkley’s Beer Nouveau brewery at the far end of the Piccadilly Beer Mile from 4pm on Friday, June 9. The on-site tap will host beers donated by many of Manchester’s craft brewers with every penny raised from ale sales and a mini-auction going to the families of victims.

Beer Nouveau’s Facebook message is "Twenty two people went out to enjoy themselves on May 22. They didn’t come home. On June 9, we’re remembering the victims and raising funds for the families the only way we know how. By saying no to hate, no to hiding and no to fear. We’re saying yes to togetherness, yes to community and yes to getting out and having a good time for a good cause."

Friday June 9, 4pm-10.30pm. Beer Nouveau Brewery Tap, 75 North Western Street, Manchester, M12 6DY. Free.