The Little Things in (Beer) Life


I’ve been away a while. That’s what organising a Beer Festival can do to you. I couldn’t do that AND keep up my usual waffling.

No. Not even me.

It’s taken a while to get the urge back. But that happened last night. On a visit to Mancunia that was rendered rare, by an appearance from Atilla. The occasion? A visit to the Xmas Fair curated by those lovely GRUB people, Jason & Jules.

Well, Storm Desmond put the kibosh on that.

Having entered the marquee at about 6:30pm to be told by Jason that he was calling “Last Orders” in the name of safety – it WAS a bit windy TBF – it was a brief visit. But not before a pint of Southern Keg Filth, a predictably excellent, refreshing, Little Things That Kill by Weird Beard and an excellent Panzerotti by Fritto


The music was great, the food superb and the beer was as I’d expect from the Glassworks/Black Jack crew. It was a brief but highly enjoyable visit. Gutted that I missed Santa and the Choir mind!

The GRUB/Keystone/Shebeen axis put on some simply great bashes that have been a feature of my summer. They both know their market AND (crucially) have a flair for this stuff. Both this particular old boy and his lovely Missus had a great (if brief) time.

Sadlers Yard looks like a good space. Hope to see more events here soon.

But we had to move on. To The Smithfield. And the point of this piece.

Smithfield Snip

We entered and sat near the door. Myself, Atilla and Jeff – already in situ. We met more friends in the mighty Darren Turpin (he of the legendary – and rumoured to be rebooted – GtrMcrAleNews) and his lovely lady Jo. We chatted – as you do. I ordered a Farmhouse Brown by BlackJack. It was Brown, damned tasty with a saison style yeasty hit. It did what it said on the tin.

A number of people greeted us as they came in. Again, more friendly conversation and welcomes.

I kind of take this stuff for granted. Atilla however, was made up by the friendliness and all round “niceness” of everybody. It was warm, welcoming, friendly and lubricated by excellent Black Jack beers.

It was – to me – the Manchester Beer Scene examplared in one room.


You see, I find little on my beery walks around Manchester that dispels my beliefs, both that #BeerPeopleAreGoodPeople and that Manchester’s beer scene is a flower in bloom. One that we should cherish and nurture.

What also struck me – perhaps, slightly more controversially – was the number of people staying in the bar for a number of beers that used to gravitate to Port Street previously. That’s no comment on Port Street. What it IS, is a recognition of the great job that Black Jack have done with what was becoming a tired pub, albeit one that was dear to the hearts of many. Me included.

What they have achieved, with a lick of paint and a few nice touches like the bar games (HUGELY popular last night!) and some excellent guest beer choices (Cascade by Bad Seed Brewery was sensational the previous evening) is to create a destination bar. One where people come in and stay for a few beers. In Manchester, THAT is an achievement. One to celebrate.

On another point. There is an awful lot to look forward to in Manchester in 2016.

Firstly, Tryanuary. An initiative by Andy Heggs. An intiative born in Manchester. Get it followed and get involved. (There *may* be a post from YT coming soon!)

The Manchester Beer & Cider Festival. At Manchester Central. An iconic location for a beer celebration. (Manchester seems to pick Iconic venues to showcase beer, doesn’t it……) And there will be keg…..(just let that sink in…..)

And, from the man who brings you Beer Battered, is coming Manchester Beer Week. If even half of the things that I am hearing about come off, this will be 10 days highlighting all that we are proud of in the “Manchester Beer Scene”. Connor seems to be pulling out all the stops on this! Get involved.

I’m excited. And after the come down of ISBF2015it has taken a lot to get me excited again.

Manchester is a city to be proud of. With a beer scene that needs bow to none.

2016 will only highlight this in big bold colours.

Bring. It. On.

It’s been 4 months. I’ll be back a little sooner!