Words by Kaleigh Watterson
As part of the Manchester Beer Week City Clash, which will see six brewing teams from five cities go head-to-head in a unique competition, we asked beer writers from around the country to tell us what makes the beer scene so special in their cities. This week, blogger and journalist Kaleigh Watterson, who writes at The Ale in Kaleigh, takes a look at our brilliant home city.
Manchester is the UK's capital of beer. Maybe a bold claim, but one I wholeheartedly believe. I'm not a native Manc, I've been here for about seven years now but I've made it my home and found that other cities, for me, just can't compare in terms of beer. I love visiting the pubs, bars, breweries and bottle shops, meeting people - whether they're old friends or new - and enjoying the simple pleasure of soaking up the atmosphere.
Manchester has always been a pioneering city. From the first steam-powered cotton mill to the first passenger railway, the founding of the suffragette movement to the discovery of wonder material graphene, Manchester has a long heritage of trailblazers, so it's not surprise it's also been at the forefront of the UK's craft beer scene. It's the home of Marble, founded 21 years ago, which has curated brewers who have gone on to work for the likes of Magic Rock, Thornbridge, Buxton and Northern Monk. And the brewery not only sticks to its traditional roots with old favourites like Pint and Bitter but experiments and pushes the boundaries.
And then there are the new upstarts that have rocked the beer industry not just in the UK, but across the world - the likes of Cloudwater, Track, Runaway and more. Many of the city's breweries export and last year Cloudwater was named second best brewery in the world by US site RateBeer - the only UK brewery to make the top 10. And of course, Cloudwater are now taking over the south with the opening of a bar in London in the coming months.
But it's not just about leading the way, tradition also plays a big part in the city. Three of the area's major family brewers, Joseph Holt, Hydes and JW Lees, are still big players. Not everyone wants to drink imperial stouts or sours, so the city caters for those that just want a traditional pint of bitter.
Manchester is known for its diversity, and this is the case with its pubs and bars too. From cosy grade II-listed pubs to modern craft beer bars, old school back street boozers to swanky cocktail establishments, the city has something for everyone - of course, not everywhere will appeal to everyone, but that's the point. It's not an identikit city.
It also might be a big city but the centre is compact enough to make many of the most popular beer sites accessible and reachable in the same day. On a Saturday, it's so easy to do a crawl around the breweries and pubs of the city, with no public transport required. What more could you want?
It's this diversity, accessibility and the way the old and new exist in harmony that, for me, makes Manchester the best place for beer.