A year in beer: 2015

Well, it’s got to be said that 2015 has been a pretty damn good year if you’re a beer drinker in Manchester. We’ve had new breweries setting up shop, new bars opening and plenty of beer festivals and brew taps, so here’s a little look back at the year just gone.

Beer festivals

It’s safe to say, I went to a fair number of beer festivals this year – both in Manchester and further afield. I just love them; there’s nothing quite like the opportunity to drink a lot of great beer in a single venue.

We started off the year with the Manchester Beer and Cider Festival at the Velodrome. A good event, with the only let down the volume of the commentator for the cyclists whizzing around while we were drinking which was too loud to maintain a discussion at some points. I’m very much looking forward to their new home in Manchester Central aka The GMEX for 2016 – easier tram journey and plenty of places for a post-fest beer in the vicinity.

March was Prestwich Beer Festival – a cosy little event within Prestwich’s Longfield Suite. A good atmosphere, plenty of seating and a decent beer list made it a very enjoyable event.

In May it was over to Stockport for Stockport Beer Festival. The novelty of sitting in the stands remains no matter how many times we go and after a few beers, we found ourselves spending far too much on the tombola.

One of the joys of the summer months is enjoying a few beers in the great outdoors and there were a good number of events giving the opportunity to do just this. We popped down to Chorlton for Chorlton Beer Festival – a highlight of this was a little dance to the band playing Britpop classics – in July, and August saw us visiting Levenshulme for Levy Beer Fete arranged by the team at Grub. I loved the big top and the welcoming, family-friendly atmosphere made it a lovely place to  spend an afternoon.

Finally, October saw two very different festivals in a short space of time. First off was Indy Man Beer Con. We went to three sessions and drank some veeerry good beer – and it was also my first introduction to the joys of Karkli – possibly the best beer snack I’ve ever had. The only negative in attending so many sessions was ending up with six glasses. Our cupboard is pretty full now! It was then over to Salford for the Independent Salford Beer Festival, organised by Jim aka Beers Manchester. A cracking little festival with some excellent beers (Steel City Brewing’s The Light at the End of the World was my favourite) and I also took home a box of Squawk beers from the raffle – brilliant!

I may have missed some out here, but these were the stand out events for me in 2015. Looking forward to 2016 already – especially as we’ll be attending our very first international beer festival: Copenhagen Beer Celebration! I’ve also started putting together a list of Manchester beer events for 2016 – there’s already plenty to look forward to.

New Manchester bars and pubs

I think it’s fair to say there have been two major talking points this year in terms of new bars in Manchester in 2015. The first is The Smithfield which is now being operated by Blackjack and has become a proper pub with excellent beer and a great atmosphere in just a few short months. The other is Piccadilly Tap. It divides opinion in terms of its look and its beer list, but it has brought to life an empty unit in a prominent place. Finally, just weeks before the end of the year, Cafe Beermoth opened its doors. Within the first eight days of its launch, I’d visited three times so it’s safe to say I’m a big fan.

Manchester breweries: new openings and moves

Manchester is now home to so many breweries it can be hard to keep track of them all! In fact, I can’t – but @deeekos has a fantastic list so just have a look at that instead:

https://boozyprocrastinator.wordpress.com/2013/05/28/the-manchester-brewers/

More brewers in the city mean more opportunities to drink beer from the source, so I’m looking forward to more breweries opening up their doors next year.

And finally…my favourites of 2015:

Favourite Manchester pub/bar:

It’s got to be The Marble Arch.

Favourite pub/bar outside of Manchester:

We’re very lucky that there are areas within easy reach of Manchester with excellent beer on offer. Picking just one is hard, but the first one that came to mind is Buxton Tap House so I’m sticking with that. I’d also give a little nod to Tap and Bottles in my hometown of Southport.

Favourite Manchester beer shop:

Beermoth is an old favourite, but as this year Ross bought himself a car, we could venture further afield to stock up on our stash at home so we made our first trips to places such as The Epicurean, Bottle and Heaton Hops to buy beer. The layout and well-organised sections mean The Epicurean takes the top spot for me.

Favourite beer:

There’s been a lot of fantastic beer I’ve tried this year, but I think the best beer of 2015 for me has to be the Buxton/Omnipollo collaboration Yellow Belly. It’s just phenomenal.

Here’s to 2016!

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