One of the core aims of Manchester Beer Week is to celebrate the best of brewing from across the region.
So it will come as no surprise to learn that a whole host of exciting, one-off brews are being planned for the festival.
A wide range of brewers - both large and small, traditional and modern - have committed to create beers that will highlight Greater Manchester's rich history, diversity and commitment to innovation.
Unfortunately, you face a patient wait to see what's being cooked up but fear not, you can get your first taste of Manchester Beer Week at this week’s Manchester Beer and Cider Festival.
We were given the opportunity to collaborate with Wigan brewery Allgates to create a beer for the CAMRA event at Manchester Central and we’re very happy with the result.
Our first ever collaboration is All Day Coffee IPA, weighing in at 5.1% ABV and featuring a heady mix of three different American hops and three different types of freshly-roasted coffee from J Atkinson & Co.
Bearing in mind the difficulty standing out among the 470 beers on show at the festival, the idea was to create something bold and distinctive, yet not at the expense of balance or drinkability.
Given coffee flavours are more typically associated with dark beers, particularly when it comes to cask ale, Allgates’ talented brewer Jonathan Provost suggested flipping expectation on its head by using them in a pale ale instead.
But unlike previous interpretations of the same idea by other breweries – such as Siren’s Americano, Weird Beard’s Out of Office and Stone’s Dayman – Jonathan also wanted to create something at a low enough ABV that drinkers could enjoy more than one pint.
All of these ideas merged to form All Day Coffee IPA.
Once the recipe had been finalised, the brew day itself went exactly to plan, aside from a last-minute change to the hop bill.
Ultimately, we settled on Citra and Cascade as kettle hops, with a large amount of Mosaic reserved for dry hopping in the fermenter. The ground coffee was also added to the fermenter, rather than the kettle, to prevent extraction of oils that could effect body and head retention.
It is hoped the bold citrus and tropical hop character will both contrast and compliment the coffee, which was specially chosen by J Atkinson & Co for this purpose.
The juicy fruit flavours of the Granja La Esperanza Red Honey Pacamara and hints of blueberry found in the Ethiopia Yirgacheffe Aramo should mesh with the fruity hop flavours. Meanwhile, the cinder toffee and smooth vanilla of the Guatemalan Antigua Cuxinales should play well with caramel notes from the crystal malt.
But the coffee’s earthy roast character will also provide a strong contrast, lingering in the long, dry finish and working alongside the resinous bitterness of the hops themselves.
Get down to this week’s Manchester Beer and Cider Festival to test the results for yourselves and let us know what you think.
For their part, Allgates proved to be the perfect partner for Manchester Beer Week’s first collaboration brew, neatly capturing the festival’s ethos of celebrating both brewing heritage and modern innovation.
Based in a Grade II listed building in the heart of Wigan, which was used as a brewery as far back as the 19th century, Allgates has pushed the envelope for beer in the town, both through its own creations and the beer offering in its eight pubs.
The brewery itself is utterly unique. Unlike the large, open spaces of most modern breweries, it is tight and confined – five claustrophobic floors stacked one upon the other, each dedicated to a different part of the brewing process.
The brewkit itself is perched on the top floor, gazing from on high over the neighbouring beauty of Wigan Parish Church. Ingredients are transported from one floor to another using an old-fashioned winch system, which makes disposing of spent malt that bit more testing during collaboration brew days.
But despite the inherent challenges that come from operating in such an unusual brewhouse, the setting adds poignancy to what Allgates has achieved in diversifying Wigan’s beer offering. When they opened in 2006, it reignited a tradition that had almost died in a town that had been without a brewery for almost 40 years.
The aim of Manchester Beer Week is to celebrate more stories just like this one and open drinkers’ eyes to the rich variety of excellent beer available on their own doorstep.