News and Updates

#ISBF4 – Collab Brewday No.1: Five Towns Brewery

To facilitate the return of The Independent Salford Beer Festival some things had to change. Primarily my (Jim) attitude to delegation. I’m rubbish at it. But – for the greater good – I’m letting go of some of the tasks that are essential for any beer celebration.

And that IS what ISBF is. A celebration of all that is great in beer.

But there are some things that I hold close to my chest. Close to my heart. And one of those is the chance to brew with Malcolm Bastow of Five Towns Brewery – a great brewer and a top bloke. And, for my money, one of the best small batch brewers in the country.

So good, we get two brewdays.

So. Last Thursday evening, I got a text. The special yeast had arrived. And needed using. “When can you get over?” I’d have dropped everything then, if I could have!

I mean. Come ON. ISBF Beer of the Festival winner in the first 2 years?

Those who have been to all ISBFs, will remember that we have been lucky enough to have 2 of Five Towns’ Belgian style Tripels (Grounds For Divorce & More Grounds….). Both of these beauties being fermented with fresh yeast from Brasserie Orval in SE Belgium. An iconic Abbey, brewing an iconic beer.

And I get to pitch that yeast. To help make another Belgian style Tripel. But with a distinct Yorkshire twist.

I love brewing on Malcolm’s kit. Being only 2.5bbl it feels tiny. And it’s so simple to work with.

Mashing in with 90 kg of dry goods – Maris Otter Pale and wheat – filled the mash tun to the brim, releasing beautiful biscuit aromas. If you don’t like the smell of a brewery mashing in, you haven’t got a soul. It’s a guaranteed uplift of the spirit. *Breathes Deeply*

This is small batch brewing. Right here.

Bittered with a chunk of Kazbek and late hopped with Nelson Sauvin – there’s a reason for that – there isn’t going to be much of this beer in the wild, possibly 3 or 4 casks. With maybe a smattering of bottles available.

But the beer that comes to ISBF will be unique on draught. And it’s the reason that we late hopped with aromatic Nelson…..

The cask that we get will be different. With that distinctive Yorkshire twist.

You see, I had an idea. Rhubarb. What, with Wakefield being right in the heart of the legendary Rhubarb Triangle, it made sense, no? And here we come to that late Nelson, to accentuate the tartness of the Rhubarb? So the beer that we get will have a chunk of rhubarb in secondary.

Did I mention 8.6% abv?

Meet “Always Crashing In The Same Car”

I can’t wait to taste this.

And the only place you’ll get to try this?


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The Fourth Coming……. #ISBF4 – Launch Bash

I’ve been busy. Really busy. Want to find out HOW busy? Read on….

Since March, I’ve been beavering away in the undergrowth of the beer scene. Contacting brewers, building relationships, giving people who may have no understanding of what we do, an idea, a feeling of what The Independent Salford Beer Festival is all about.

Before I announced that this event was going to happen again, something – in an organisational sense – had to change. So, a  group of friends got together – fellow beer enthusiasts – and good beer people, to devolve. To delegate. And – good people that they are….

And I asked a question.

“So. Some ‘blue sky’ beer thinking. Who would you like to see on the #EvilKegFilth bar at St Sebastian’s?”

Then the work REALLY started. Talking. Persuading.

But – I think – that’s all done. And the invites are all out. Just the #EvilKegFilth 5-a-side line up now to finalise – and that will be done shortly.

I’ve been drinking good beer for many years. I’ve been to many beer festivals. But I’m TRULY excited about what we’ve got coming in October for YOU.

And I want to tell some of you ALL ABOUT IT.

So. Here’s the plan. Let’s have a little select party.

On the 20th August, at 18:30, in The Sex Dungeon (aka The Brink), I’ll be hosting a little bash. You will….

  • Get to hear the FULL brewery line up – both Cask & #EvilKegFilth – FIRST.
  • Get the chance to grab an exclusive T-shirt (ft the above beautiful design!) *People who grab tickets can pre-order by size & choice of colours*
  • Get the chance to take part in the draw to decide the collaborators in the #EvilKegFilth 5-a-side series – North v South
  • Get the first chance to buy tickets for #ISBF4

Entry will be free to the launch, but by ticket only.

Click here to grab one. There aren’t many and they won’t last long!

See you then.



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The Fourth Coming of The Independent Salford Beer Festival – #EvilKegFilth

“Well I’ve got a secret, I cannot say
Blame all the movement to give it away
You’ve got somethin’, I understand
Holding it tightly, caught on command
Leap of faith, do you doubt?….

Whatever you do, don’t tell anyone… “

There is no need here for a history lesson about this beer celebration. That it has progressed – year on year – is evidentially measurable. It is also measurable emotionally, in that the response I got from the last webpost simply knocked me for six. I’m rarely stunned, but genuinely, I was shocked.

The evidence of our eyes also bore testament to the success of last year. In that we….

a) Raised over 50% more cash for St Sebastian’s, and

b) Poured away virtually ZERO beer.

I’ve always tried to secure the best breweries that I can. For the first two years, that meant local. No further West than Liverpool, no further South than Crewe, East of Scarborough, North of York. But last year was different.

Last year I invited some breweries from South of my personal border and they provided – quite literally – stunning keg beers. Be it the Jim Beam BA Double Pearl from Weird Beard, the Kombucha Soured Milk Neapolitan Ale from Bexar County or the winner of Beer of the Festival, Love Action from Elusive. But the selection was precisely that. Select. And small.

So. How do you improve on the best yet? Well. More beer for a start.

The only measure by which we (which translates as I) failed last year was in the beer running out in the #EvilKegFilth room. So, we need more. That much is obvious. But who? And what?

What I have done, is sent messages out by all means possible short of carrier pigeon. To some of the best breweries in the UK. To some breweries I haven’t even seen on draught in Manchester yet. To breweries that have no earthly reason to have their beer poured in a youth club room in a small Salford Community Centre.

These messages sought 2 distinct things.

1. Commitment to supply an – as yet – unspecified beer.

2. For that beer to be one that hasn’t been poured in Manchester yet. That we get it first. Even if only by one day.

I also set myself a special challenge. I asked some of my closest beer friends – who volunteer for the Celebration – to reach for the sky. Who would THEY want to see/drink…..

The #EvilKegFilth room will have double the amount of beer it had last year. I have sent messages to 25 of the best breweries currently kegging (and I fully accept that you can’t please all!) Of those that have replied (80%), only 1 couldn’t immediately commit. That’s 1 out of 20. I have 5 responses awaited and 5 slots (possibly) for another EKF 5-a-Side collab series.

It’s rare for me to get giddy with excitement – especially where beer is concerned. But receiving these emails, one by one, I had fingers crossed. Expecting the worst. But after each response I’ve been dancing inside.

Being an inveterate tease, I’m going to say nothing more than that I’ve been incredibly flattered that – again – a little Community Centre beer celebration can get the responses that I’ve received. I’ve invited some of my personal hero breweries that we’ve never had before. And they’ve said that they’ll sort us something new to Manchester.

Over the last 3 years, I’ve pulled a few rabbits from hats. This year, I’ve aimed for a warren full. And – not to tempt fate – if we get this lot to the finishing line……

I’ll be doing a “Dad Dance”.

Back soon!



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The Independent Salford Beer Festival – The Fourth Coming

“Never Say Never”

On two separate occasions during last year’s event, I was approached by two people who are hugely significant to both myself and Manchester on a beer and social level. The question?

“So. When are we doing this again?”

My answer?

“Come back in 6 months. And I’ll still say ‘No’ ”

So what changed?

That’s a difficult one. And not easy to answer. But primarily, last year was THAT good – from a personal (volunteers) enjoyment perspective (it was – perversely – the first one that I truly enjoyed) that, within a couple of months or so, I started to amuse some people by having second thoughts. Added to that, I needed to understand if this was a part of my grief reaction, or an untainted reaction to the response we and I received following the event.

There are a number of other factors too that needed to be addressed and we have gradually addressed those over a period of two or three months, the final one being on Monday evening when a band of brothers and sisters met. Only following that meeting (and the personal generosity of those people) – could I (Jim), feel safe about announcing #ISBF4.

So. In short. We go again.

Each event has been an incremental progression from the previous one. And – judging by the response from you, the audience – better. That,  in and of itself, creates a certain pressure. To be better again than last year. To improve. Something that – to me – might be difficult to achieve. But it won’t stop us trying.

Same place. Same formula. With some significant twists.

  • More #EvilKegFilth.

The #EvilKegFilth room was TOO successful. We effectively ran out of beer mid Saturday. That won’t happen again. In my role, I will be looking to get exclusive beers – as much as possible – from the best breweries around the country. I did it last year. And a keg beer won Beer of the Festival (Still need to get Impy to Andy Parker at Elusive!) That speaks volumes.

  • More Collaborations

I’ve already agreed collaborations with some exceptional breweries. Breweries that excite me – and I take a lot of exciting. I hope to agree – in outline – more over the next couple of weeks. As and when these things actually happen, you’ll hear here first.

  • More Manchester Exclusives

Those who came last year, know. Every single beer, in both rooms, was seen – and tasted – first at St Sebastian’s Community Centre. And that – especially in the same month as a certain extravaganza at Victoria Baths – took some doing.

And – whilst I can’t promise the same – it won’t stop me trying.

But, to us, the people who organise it and run it, what is more important than all of that, is the feeling. Relaxed. Fun. Friends and strangers talking. Initially over a shared love of beer. Great beer. But then realising that that person who was – just a few minutes earlier – a stranger, now feels like someone you have known for ages. Good beer people.

So. Put the dates in your Google / Apple calendars (or, if you still use one, diary)

19th – 21st October 2017.

And ask people who came last year. You won’t want to miss it.


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ISBF 2016 – Post 28 : TicketyBrew, A Kiwi Saison and the Independent Salford Beer Festival

Thank you to lovely Mr Mark Johnson for this (final) guest post. First posted on his website/blog Beer CompurgationI’ll leave to he of the lovely quiff!

“Loyalty is often blind.

I still remember the moment I was stood in Beermoth beer shop (in the centre of Manchester) and picked up bottles of Pale Ale and Dubbel from a brewery I’d not previously seen. Those spiral tickets around the bottle were eye-catching to me. “They are a new brewery from Stockport,” I was told and I had no reason to believe otherwise.

But further inspection after the beers were drunk revealed a Waterloo Court address on the label – an address all too familiar to me. It isn’t in Stockport at all. It’s an address in the famous Manchester suburban town of Stalybridge. Not only is Stalybridge the town I was born and raised in. Not only is it a town home to my much loved favourite pub that has given me so much. But it is home to the railway arches come industrial units of Waterloo Court where I was once given a stable job after months of unemployed and self-employed torture and uncertainty. That business moved on from the four railway arches that it once occupied but one – Unit 16 to be exact – would go on to become the home of Stalybridge’s first brewery for 100 years; Ticketybrew.

To say that the story gave me a personal affection and slight bias to Ticketybrew would be an understatement. Luckily I really enjoyed those early releases of Pale Ale and Dubbel. The Westmalle yeast used gave such a distinctive characteristic and style that every-other-new-brewery seemed to lack. I wanted them to be good.

They are too. The Dubbel and Tripel are exceptional versions of their style. The bottled versions of Jasmine Green Tea and Peach Iced Tea are not only great stand-alone beers but also pair great with food. Their latest versions of Stout and East India Porter are tremendous. Oh, and not every beer uses Belgian yeast contrary to belief.

They may be in a railway arch but they are proud to be housed away from the overcrowded Piccadilly Beer Mile. They brewed a Best Bitter to try and appeal to the more traditional drinkers of Stalybridge. They’ve gone above and beyond at times to help local pubs with cellaring and the like to try cask beer. They are not a brewery business focused solely on a certain modern beer market.

Yet there is an underwhelming opinion with Ticketybrew amongst beer drinkers – explained well in this post on OhGoodAle. It says much of a brewery that can be brilliant but also disappointing in corresponding measure.

The brewery was given birth by husband and wife team Duncan and Keri. I know Duncan fairly well by now but have never met Keri. I have, however, through means of Stalybridge Buffet Bar especially grown to know other members of the growing team, past and present. Paul is a very knowledgeable brewer who has left to continue his career at Marble. Andy is a former Doc Martens model who I admire for his love of traditional pubs and people but also of all styles of beer. Lee, formerly of Manchester’s Knott Bar, is the latest brewery protegé with a roster of exciting and tasty homebrew (I’ve tasted his Lilt Saison and it was delicious) who should have an exciting career on his hands. There is an enthusiastic young team developing here.

So when chieftain on the shield Jim Cullen (Beers Manchester) asked me whether I would be interested in helping brew a beer for Independent Salford Beer Festival at Ticketybrew I immediately put in my holiday request.

It wouldn’t be the first time I have brewed a beer at Ticketybrew. For Manchester Beer Week we recreated a beer by Stalybridge’s last brewery – Heginbotham’s Brewery – with an Invalid Stout. It was my initial idea that I was glad to help see come to fruition. It was eventually a collaboration with Stalybridge Buffet Bar. With no original recipe to go from we went for authenticity that was nicely approved by Ron Pattinson himself on its release night. I still promise to write more about my research findings about the beer and its brewery in future.


For Salford Beer Festival though the brewday was handed to our Torino-supporting Buffet Bar regular Andy Evans who was keen to brew his idea for a Kiwi Saison. It all happened on the 6th of October. Due to personal reasons Jim couldn’t make the day – which I know he will be disappointed by as he is very fond of Ticketybrew – so it was up to me to fly the flag for Salford. This involved one key ingredient.

Kiwis. 50kg of them.


Now Kiwis aren’t “as mashable as raspberries” as Andy would lament later in the day with paddle mixer in hand. No. They have hairy thick skins and a tough pulped middle that stubbornly don’t adhere themselves to the will of brewers. Whilst a mash tun of nearly pure lager malt sparged, myself and Andy fought to liquefy kiwis as best we could. We pummelled through five bucket loads to create as much of a beautiful coloured puree as we could.


To accompany this came Dana and Waimea hops. I confess to being unfamiliar with Dana directly apart from its use in what predominantly seems to be lagers. I had no idea of Dana’s fragrance. It is easily one of the most delicious smelling hops to crush between your hands I’ve come across. Surely underused.

It was a smooth running brewday up to that point, with plenty of time for me to volunteer as a work experience kid cleaning bottles out for the Ticketybrew team. I was coincidentally lucky enough to bear witness to the next stage in this brewery’s story that was unfolding that very day.

You see, Ticketybrew are well aware that they had a consistency issue and they’ve been determined to address it. They’ve had exterior examiners come in and swab-and-test all equipment and areas. The brewery itself has been stripped back, removing anything that could hold possible infection; including the old brewery banner. And with the brew kit, area and its beer declared consistently infection free, the arrival of a new stainless steel kit, half of which was arriving on whilst I was there, completes this period of transition.


I have been as critical as any about the consistency in Ticketybrew’s cask beer. But now I would implore any who may believe they don’t like Ticketybrew to give them another go.

That should all begin at Salford Beer Festival with a Kiwi Saision that had issues of a different sort. You see, those hairy Kiwi skins are not a friend to hop filters and transfer of the brew was a logistical nightmare. Some beer was sacrificed in search of an answer, but eventually there was plenty that squeezed itself through an area blocked with skin. The first runnings looked glorious. But whilst I retired at around half past 3, Andy fought for the beer til gone 7 in the evening.

What Andy is hoping for is a 4.2% quaffable and refreshing saison from which you can gain the Kiwi flavour. It will be revealed at the Independent Salford Beer Festival to a lucky crowd experiencing the festival’s final year.

For Ticketybrew the story isn’t beginning but is certainly entering a sequel. There is plenty to come from this talented brew team within their expanding brewery (they now hold three units) and shiny new kit. Personally I hope a rebrand (and updated website) are to come but for now I will settle on consistently well made beer. There should also be a Brewery Tap to come next year.

For the Independent Salford Beer Festival it may seem to be the final year, but it will be another wonderful event that Jim has created. If you don’t believe in his “facile” mantra that“Beer People are Good People” then look no further than this small festival and the people involved willing to do anything for such a wonderful guy.

Beer People are Good People and that is seen no better than amongst the organiser behind the Independent Salford Beer Festival and the team of Ticketybrew.

Get your tickets.

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ISBF 2016 – Post 27 : Coming Together


Good Grief! It’s it REALLY 12 months since we were here? This is now my home for the next week or so and it feels like I’ve never been away.

Today (Tuesday) has been particularly busy, with

  1. Beers arriving
  2. Glassware arriving, washing and re-storing.
  3. Both bars installed and beers in place.
  4. Karkli – Beer snack to the God’s – arrived. And I didn’t eat it all.


Pretty little blighters eh? There are plenty of these.

It has been a long, long day. But tomorrow will be calmer for it. Tickets are moving towards sell out sessions, with Friday afternoon, evening and Saturday lunch particularly close.


Never thought we’d have a wooden cask. But that particular beast contains the first collab I did for this festival. Back in February. The Secret Life of Arabica (cognac infused Raisin & Coffee Imperial Stout) brewed with the only brewery to win beer of the festival. On BOTH occasions. Five Towns.

And there are two more “woodies”. From Beer Nouveau & (a first in cask) Carbon Smith.


And my favourite pump clip. At least 3 Bowie themed beers this year. There may be a Bowie tune or two over the PA!

And I’m LOVING these….


£10 could secure one. In either Olive, Pale Blue or Heather Grey. There are even 3 of the original Evil Keg Filth shirts left (£15 – Large only)

Got a few raffle prizes too! (Friday evening, Sat Afternoon and Evening sessions….)

Beer prices between £3 and £6 (pro rata) max.

I’m excited. Are you? Get on and get those tickets bought while you still can. Because once we shut those doors on Saturday evening. It’s over. And won’t be repeated.

Look forward to seeing you.


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ISBF 2016 – Post 26 : The Small Things That Matter

2016 Glass Front

JUst a few more words from little (!) old me. Things that you might need to know before you rock up next week……

Glassware – As you can see, pretty as….. (There will be a pint glass, but more limited than last year. And we are proud to our bones to be sponsored by and associated with the best new bar in Manchester. The Brink. A lovely little bar on Bridge Street where localism is king.

The Beer – At the risk of sounding like a broken record, this is the ultimate beer list in more than just the one sense. Check out the list HERE. It IS rather special.

And in a departure from previous years, sparklers will be used when requested. If you want that, just hand in your glass for a clean one. The small things eh……….

Cask beers will be in the larger room whilst the Evil Keg Filth (I’m VERY fond of that term!) will be in Room 2 and hopefully prettily signposted!

Prices – The beer will be priced between an effective £3 – £6 per pint (pro rata where necessary). No more. Even for the “monsters”. I couldn’t justify any more in all conscience. Payment will be by paper tokens, obtained at the front “desk” as usual.

Music! – We are chuffed to the core to have our live music presented on both the Friday & Saturday evenings by new local label Sweet Sweet Records. Details HERE. Duke and the Darlings have been with us from Day One and it wouldn’t feel right to ride off into the sunset without Alex’s dulcet tones echoing in our ears! HUGE thanks to Alex and the guys for this. There will be two artists on each of the Friday and Saturday evenings.

There will be a few tunes from my laptop in other sessions (AKA the best jukebox in Salford)  and maybe – just maybe – some discs spun from the most laid back of Mancunian decks on the Saturday evening session from Joe from Black Jack. (TBC)

Presentations – On Friday evening, we will be having a Cask v Keg style event / talk hosted by 3 of the loveliest people in the Northern Brewing scene. Mark Welsby from Runaway Brewery and Tara Mallinson & Elaine Yendall from Mallinsons with at least two different beers to try in each format. (I’ll be in attendance for certain!)

On the Saturday lunchtime session, we are honoured to host a talk about Manchester Beer Week past and future from Mr Manchester Beer Week himself Connor Murphy – another event I wouldn’t miss for all the beer in Manchester!

Non-Alcoholic Beverages – We are really proud to have soft drinks supplied by those lovely people at Steep Soda!!!


Not to forget those lovely people from Chilli Relish!

Transport – Last year, we had some issues (to put it mildly) with taxis. And lessons have been learned. We have partnered up with Manchester based taxi company Cresta Cars to have taxis available on request. If you do come, please try to book 1/2 hour in advance. (Cards will be on tables and posters in main entrance area)

I don’t think I’ve forgotten anything have I?

Oh yes. There will be a NEW MANCHESTER BREWERY launching at this humble little beer celebration! To learn more, you need to grab your tickets while you still can! Click HERE!

And remember…..

Beer Nouveau
Carbon Smith
Cheshire Brewhouse
Cwrw Ial
Five Oh
Howard Town
Rammy Craft
Serious Brew Co
Thirst Class
Mystery Brewery

Bad Seed
Brass Castle
Five Towns
Lost Industry
North Riding

Bad Seed v Track
Bexar County v Offbeat
Blackjack v Brass Castle
Five Towns v Squawk
Mallinsons v Runaway
North Riding v Thirst Class

Bexar County
Mourne Mountains
Northern Alchemy
Weird Beard

All of these breweries…..Doing a new beer to Manchester. Just for us!

Grab your ticket and come & join us at the friendliest of beer celebrations,

Back soon!

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ISBF 2016 – Post 25 : The Beer List

People. What with one thing and another, this has taken a bit longer than normal to get out.

But I think you’ll agree that it’s worth it. I (Jim) don’t lie. I’m a bit proud of this list. There may be one or two beers from Yorkshire that may have been released, but the VAST majority have NOT been tasted in Manchester.

Like I said. I’m DAMN proud of this. So. Without further ado….Knock yourselves out.

This is a bit provisional. A full downloadable (in various formats) version will be available from the website in the coming days.


Abbeydale, Sheffield – Japanese Citrus Pale – Yuzu Pale DH Sorachi & Lemongrass – 4.5%
AllGates, Wigan – Blackstar – Marshmallow Porter – 4.8%
Atom Beers, Hull – Critical Temperature (Habanero Edition) – Rye Pale Ale Coffee Porter – 6.5%
Bad Seed, Malton – Session I.P.A. – Session I.P.A. – 4.0%
Beer Nouveau, Manchester – E.S.B. – Best Bitter – 5.5%
Black Jack, Manchester – Ahtenum Lager – Lager – 5.0%
Brass Castle, Malton – Rubicon – Red Rye Ale – 4.8%
Brewsmith, Ramsbottom – Session I.P.A. – Session I.P.A. – 4.8%
Bridestone’s, Hebden Bridge – Off Yer Fruit! – Fruit Aged Session I.P.A. – 4.4%
Carbon Smith, Manchester – Salted Caramel Milk Stout – Salted Caramel Milk Stout – 5.1%
Cheshire Brewhouse, Congleton – Caribbean Crossroads – Rum Cask Aged B.I.P.A. – 6.5%
Cloudwater, Manchester – I.P.A. Nelson Sauvin – I.P.A. – 6.5%
Cwrw Ial, Llanarmon yn Iâl – Zawn – American Lemon Wheat – 4.2%
Emmanuales, Sheffield – The Deer Pants for Porter – Smoked Porter – 5.0%
Five-Oh, Prestwich – T.B.C. – T.B.C. – T.B.C.%
Five Towns, Wakefield – Secret Life of Arabica – Imperial Stout – 8.0%
Five Towns, Wakefield – Beauty and the Beast – Citrus D.I.P.A. – 9.0%
Howard Town, Glossop – Ten – Belgian-Style Quad – 10.0%
Lost Industry, Sheffield – Peanut Butter Milk Stout – Milk Stout – 4.4%
Mallinsons, Huddersfield – Hop Shaker – Nelson Pale Ale – 3.8%

Mallinsons, Huddersfield vs. Runaway, Manchester – Redcurrant Saison – Saison – 6.5%

Marble Brewery, Manchester – U.S. Extra Porter – Citra Dry Hop Porter – 5.9%
Neptune, Maghull – Black Percula – Chocolate Orange Stout – 4.5%
North Riding, Scarborough – Dandelion & Burdock Porter – Porter – 4.5%
Offbeat, Crewe – C Smackdown – Hoppy Pale Ale – 4.0%
Pictish, Rochdale – Pekko – Pekko (Single Hop) Pale – 4.2%
Quantum, Stockport – Pale Extra Ale – Strong Pale Ale – 6.0%
Rammy Craft, Ramsbottom – Whinberry Mild – Mild – 6.1%
Rat Brewery, Huddersfield – Grapes of Rate – Barrel Aged Barley Wine – 10.0%
Revolutions, Castleford – Psycho Candy – Belgian Centennial I.P.A. – 7.0%
Rivington, Rivington – The Make – New Zealand D.I.P.A. – 8.3%
Serious, Rochdale – Ginger Saison – Saison – 6.9%
Squawk, Manchester – Oat Pale – Dry-Seven-Hopped Pale – 4.9%
Thirst Class Ale, Stockport – Kiss My Ace – Sorachi Pale Ale – 4.0%
Tickety Brew, Stockport – Kiwi Saison – Saison – 4.3%
Torrside, New Mills – American Barley Wine – Barley Wine – 10.0%
Track, Manchester – Troika – UA / AUS / NZ Pale – 5.2%


Bad Seed, Malton vs. Track, Manchester – Troika – Pale Ale – 5.2%
Bexar County, Peterborough vs. Offbeat, Crewe – Thin Line Between Genius & Insanity – Kombucha Soured Milk Neopolitan Ale – 3.2%
Black Jack, Manchester vs. Brass Castle, Malton – Lemon Spritz – Hazy Lemon Ale – 5.0%
Five Towns, Wakefield vs. Squawk, Manchester – Mango and Sumac El Dorado – Farmhouse I.P.A. – 5.8%
Mallinsons, Huddersfield vs. Runaway, Manchester – Redcurrant Saison – Saison – 6.5%
North Riding, Scarborough vs. Thirst Class, Stockport – War of the Raspberries – Imperial Raspberry Oatmeal Stout – 6.7%


Atom Beers, Hull – Phobos & Demos – Rye Pale Ale – 7.0%
Bexar County, Peterborough – Cold Pressed Ale – Coffee Infused Pale Ale – 5.1%
Elusive Brewing, Finchampstead – Love Action – Cranberry & Vanilla Stout – 5.8%
Mourne Mountains, Warrenpoint – Mourne Mist – Pilsner – 4.5%
Northern Alchemy, Newcastle Upon Tyne – Moroccan Spiced Mild – Mild – 3.4%
Otherton Ales, Crewe – Passepartout (Brett Aged) – Bretted D.I.P.A. – 7.4%
Weird Beard, London – Double Perle (Jim Beam) – Barrel Aged Imperial Milk Stout – 8.2%

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ISBF Post 23 – EKF Collaborations : Runaway Brewery v Mallinsons Brewery

A guest post from designer extraordinaire (and all-round good egg) Andy Heggs

“I’ve been interested in beer long enough now to know the basics. And I mean the basics. I can bluff my way through most ale related conversations but I’d be the first to admit there’s many out there infinitely more knowledgeable than me.

So get two breweries together and listen to them talking about each others kit and brewing methods, and I may as well be trying to learn Swahili. Via sign language. Under water. Yes, I was completely out of my depth, but I didn’t care. Listening to the free exchange of knowledge and advice between two passionate and talented brewers is a heartening experience.

The brewers in question were of course Runaway Brewery (Mark) and Mallinsons (Tara and Elaine), with us brewing up on Runaway’s kit for this ISBF collaboration special. 

To say this brew day was relaxed and straightforward would be an understatement! Planned well in advance, the beer to be brewed was a Redcurrant Saison. Only one minor issue come brew day, no fresh redcurrants available in all of Manchester! Not a big issue, as the intention for them was an addition at late boil – the bulk of the redcurrant character was going to be via redcurrant puree during fermentation.


(Brewers in the mist)

A mash in of mainly Extra Pale malt with smaller amounts of Wheat, Munich & Cara was at a very respectable 9am (I get all the luck!), with transfer to copper an hour later. Hop additions during the boil – not masses of course, this is a saison after all – were some Brewers Gold for bittering along with Bramling Cross, which will contribute to the fruity tones in this little number. In they went.


(Obligatory hop shot)


(A rare shot of a brewer doing something)

And with that, we were done! The obligatory mash digging shared between three was easy work (aided by Mark’s unique method), so it would have been rude not to retire round the corner and reward ourselves with a couple of pints at the Marble Arch.


(I’m sure Mark was here a minute ago. Anyone seen him?)

So there you have it. A redcurrant saison. Another unique-never-before-created beer for ISBF, and another reason (should you still need one) to get your tickets and come on down to enjoy one of the best festivals on the calendar.”

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ISBF Post 24 – Pictish Brewery : Pekko (Single Hopped Pale Ale)


When I think of Paul Wesley’s Pictish Brewery, a certain Carly Simon song comes into my head. You see – for me – as far as single-hopped Pale Ale goes, “nobody does it better”. At least, not on THIS side of the Pennines. (My favourite moment in beer – so far – in 2016 was introducing Paul to Elaine Yendall and Tara Mallinson)

When i decided the brewery list for this (the final) iteration of ISBF, Pictish were one of the first names. And when I contacted Paul, I felt slightly guilty, having not had the brewery at St Sebastian’s previously. An egregious omission.


(In this case “award winning” is NOT a cliché)

The mash monkey partner for this brewday was easy. Jaz. Because I owe my love of Pictish beers to him. But when he was told that Paul likes to mash in at 04:45, he may have soiled his pants.

Yes. There are TWO 4:45s in a day.

Luckily for us, Paul found someone to take over deliveries, so he could have a lie-in. So we started late. At 06:45!


I was truly humbled when Paul agreed to brew a beer with us. But – in the initial discussions about WHAT to brew, we had a problem. I – Jim – wanted a new example of – for me – what Pictish are famed for (and more than one local craft brewer will agree) a single-hopped Pale Ale.

But Paul thought he’d used them all. Oh Bollocks!

Then, a few days later, he located two. A low alpha European varietal and a high alpha US varietal. Tricky?

Of course, US. So, this little beauty awaited us


Brewdays are brewdays. I’m not blasé at all – each brewery has their own variations in methodology, in key ingredients (tellingly both Mallinsons and Pictish used Lager Malt in our collabs – the hops being the stars) and in kit. The yeasts used by each brewery also vary, with many using dry, or descendants of yeasts from Thwaites. The original Pictish yeast came from Phoenix Brewery (which itself originated at Timothy Taylors)


What stood out for me was that Paul was the epitome of a “one man band”. In a kit which is quite possibly at the limit of what is feasible at his volumes. To watch him made us sweat.


(Those all important late hops)

It was like the brewery was a living organism. A body. And he was the heartbeat. He leapt from place to place and was a blur at times.

And here is the thing about Pictish. The consistency of excellence means that repeat orders are the norm. Everything he makes sells. It can be bloody difficult to get his beers. And – like I said – craft brewers of this parish speak in reverent tones about his Brewers Gold. A classic.


(He’s quite shy is Paul)

Say “hello” to Pekko. A juicy single-hopped Pale Ale at 4.2%.

So, if you decided to make the best beer decision you can possibly make at this end of 2016, you need to consider which beer you’ll go for first. For many I’ve spoken to, this will be theirs.

To get first look at (what I hope is) the complete beer list, tune into #craftbeerhour on Tuesday on Twitter, when we host the weekly beer event.

If you like great beer – like this one – and want to try something new (as everything WILL be) you know what to do.

  1. Click here
  2. Buy those tickets.
  3. Drink simply fabulous new beers.
  4. Do good – simply by drinking great beers, you’ll be supporting two causes dear to my heart. St Sebastian’s Community Centre and St Ann’s Hospice.
  5. You know it makes sense.

Here endeth the lesson. Come in peace to love and drink the beer.

Praise be to hops.


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