Manchester Beer Week's 'Brewery Expo' will centre on two of the city's 'beer quarters' on Saturday 24 June

The old saying about couldn’t organise a piss-up in a brewery definitely doesn’t apply to this year’s Manchester Beer Week – they’ve done it across a dozen for their opening weekend of the 10-day citywide, which runs until Sunday, July 2.

Billed as the city’s biggest ever brewery open day, this unique Brewery Expo takes place on Saturday, June 24, centred on two ‘beer quarters’. There’s a quartet from the north of the city centre – Beatnikz Republic, Blackjack, Joseph Holt and Runaway – as well as eight from the Piccadilly area – Alphabet, Beer Nouveau, Chorlton Brewing Co, Cloudwater, Dan's Brewery, Manchester Brewing Co, Squawk and Track.

Many of these have featured in ManCon’s Top 10 Brew Taps and, more recently Why Bother Going to The Pub Any More?but not until now has there been such a chance to get tired and emotional across such a range.

Big selling point, prices apart, is the sheer freshness of the ales you’ll encounter on your hop-sodden safari, plus a chance to learn more about the stories behind the pints through as series of tours, tastings, talks and debates (not compulsory!).

“Manchester’s brewing scene is incredibly vibrant at the moment, so it seemed only right that we should dedicate the opening weekend of Manchester Beer Week to the breweries themselves,” MBW organiser Connor Murphy told us.

“This is a unique chance for the public to explore virtually all of the city centre’s independent breweries and find out more about the quiet revolution taking place in unassuming industrial units across Manchester.

“You don’t have to be a beer fanatic to enjoy it either. Each brewery offers something unique so not only will you be spoiled by a huge selection of incredible beer, you’ll also find great food, live music, art, and educational talks and tastings.”

Alphabet Brewery Co Food Fair
Alphabet will be one of a dozen Manchester breweries opening their doors to the public Alphabet

Current highlights from the open day’s itinerary include, at Dan’s Brewery, a debate asking whether the beer industry has a problem with sexism, a doughnut and beer pairing event at Beatnikz Republic, and a tasting of Manchester heritage brews at Beer Nouveau.

Although Saturday, June 24, is the focus of the celebration, a handful of breweries – including Beatnikz Republic, Blackjack, Beer Nouveau, Cloudwater, Manchester Brewing Co and Track – will also be open at other times throughout the opening weekend.

Proving that it is a genuinely Greater Manchester event, the legendary Stalybridge Station Buffet Bar is holding its own opening weekend celebration (Fri 23 to Sun 25, 12pm to 11pm) in Victorian surroundings with cutting-edge beer from the likes of Alphabet, Beer Nouveau, Blackjack, Cloudwater, First Chop, Marble, Runaway, Seven Bro7hers, Squawk, Track and more. 

There are 70 breweries to go at across the metropolitan county, 50 of which have opened over the past five years.

There are 70 breweries to go at across the metropolitan county, 50 of which have opened over the past five years.

Manchester Beer Week proper kicks off on Friday, June 23, with a launch party at the new weekly food fair at the Mayfield Depot. You’ll find a selection of beer from Manchester's best breweries – including a number of specials created especially for the festival – as well as top street food, pop-up tastings, talks and DJs. It runs from 6pm-11pm.

It’s just the start of 10 hectic days, aiming to surpass last year’s inaugural event, which showcased our incredible beer scene through 94 events at 72 venues across Greater Manchester, including pubs, bars, breweries, restaurants and retailers. An estimated 10,000 folk attended.

Cloudwater Brews7483Dd
Cloudwater Brewery is another...

"We believe Manchester is the best beer city in the country – now it's time for the brewers, venues and the public to stand up and prove it,” added Connor, who has once again helped curate a fascinating series of collaborations between brewers.

The launch for these is on the first Monday of MBW, June 26, at a number of venues. This year's teams see Blackjack paired with the Lake District's finest, Hawkshead, while craft beer forefather Marble forms an intriguing partnership with rapidly-growing Leeds brewery Northern Monk. Hop masters Track will work with highly-rated London brewery Brew By Numbers and Runaway has big plans for their collab with cuckoo brewer Left Handed Giant, from Bristol.

A threesome? Cloudwater will team up with two of the most talked-about new breweries in the country – Lost and Grounded from Bristol and Falmouth's Verdant, recently named Best New Brewery in the UK by review website RateBeer. 

Expect to find all of these special ales at the ‘Manchester Tap’ planned for a prominent venue in the craft beer scene. There will also be taps for beers from London, Manchester and Bristol along with a Scottish Tap all week at Brewdog on Peter Street, where you can taste the likes of Fierce Beer, Tempest Brew Co, Fallen, Cromarty and Six Degrees North.

170509 Pilcrow Pub Exterior
The Pilcrow will throw a 'summer beer thing'

Another showcase for outstanding beers from Manchester and beyond comes on the final weekend (Friday, June 30 to Sunday, July 2) – the Pilcrow Summer Beer Thing, taking place in NOMA’s ‘home-made pub’ in Sadler’s Yard near Victoria Station.

That same weekend (but starting on Thursday, June 29), the cask ale big guns show their mettle at the Central Manchester Beer and Cider Festival, held in the 53two Theatre on Albert Street (the former Bauer Millett car showroom opposite the Briton's Protection).

Beer will be offered from both cask and keykeg, and the festival will feature a Central Manchester Bar offering delights from all the smaller breweries within the branch boundaries. This is expected to include the likes of Beer Nouveau, Blackjack, Cloudwater, Runaway, Marble and Track.

There will also be a larger bar featuring quality beer from across the UK, including Mallinson’s, Brass Castle, Vocation, Tiny Rebel, Pig & Porter and more. A separate bar will feature cider sourced from local producers.

Entry prices are £2 for the Thursday session; £3 on Friday (£5 after 5pm), and £4 on Saturday. Pay on the door. CAMRA members receive a £2 discount on all sessions. Further details here.

Keep up to date with Manchester Beer Week via @mcrbeerweek