To so many drinkers in Manchester, Black Jack are important.
For the beer? Naturally. They make excellent beers.
For the exceptional brewtaps? Absolutely. Spring, Summer or Autumn, whatever the temperature, they set the standard. Whilst many of my (Jim) friendships may have been formed elsewhere, many have also deepened and been cemented right there. In that yard, at the bottom of Irk Street.
That said, without Black Jack, this event would be an awful lot more difficult, if not impossible. What they do for us is incalculable. And invaluable. Collection, storage, delivery & distribution. Black Jack help to make this event what it was and has become.
In short, on many levels, they are integral.
And there was one thing I wanted to do whilst this event exists. Brew with the most chilled man in Manchester. The man who couldn’t be more chilled if he was called Jack Frost. Rich. Therefore....
I’ve also tried to get other people involved in these brewdays. People who might never have done this before. And people who love the brewery concerned. Meet Sarah..... A self – confessed Black Jack fan.....
Being Rich, this was a relaxed brewday with a relaxed start time. So I had a lie in.
The plan : An American Brown Ale. My liquid catnip. My favourite beer style. And Rich was all over that!
The execution : Entering the Brewhouse via the tradesman’s entrance, Rich & Euan were already sorting the malt out, with a whole sack of brown nestling in with the Pale and smaller amounts of Black & Cara ready for the hot bath they were about to receive.
Now then, I’ve mashed in at a few breweries over the last 4 years, but watching Rich was a revelation. A fury of blurring arm action, I was embarrassed by my puny efforts. Now I love the porridgey smell of mashed Pale malt, but once the brown and black sloshed in, the smells were astonishingly good. Bitter chocolate and biscuity porridge aromas don’t half make me drool!
Enter Sarah at this point. To chorus of Happy Birthday. And she was totally prepared for my birthday “gift”, the dig out. I didn’t expect her to be so bloody enthusiastic though!
Transfer to the copper completed, hop time! Again, Sarah dove into breaking up the Crystal & sticky Comet with relish. Savouring the opening of the hops is a joy and that Comet was SO juicy and aromatic. I think Sarah enjoyed that bit!
The smoothest of brewdays. Deploying an unfeasible amount of hops for a mid strength beer, the brewery smelt amazingly fruity and a quick taste of the “brewers breakfast” of the hot transferring wort had all the earthy, biscuity flavours I was expecting. This is going to be everything I want in this style once those aromatic hops and bittering Admiral do their thing.
Max & Jeff arriving with doughnuts (accompanied by some El Dorado Sour) rounded off the brewday so well. Before I knew it, Rich was digging out a serious depth of spent hops and we were done! And over to the even MORE social side of this, to The Runaway Tap for a brewday debrief (ans a sneaky keg taste of a beer we’re getting on CASK) then finishing the day in the obvious place. The Smithfield and more beery chat with Euan, Rich & Rob.
A day to remember for both me & Sarah. I think she enjoyed her birthday dig – she was a natural!
Thank you Rich & Euan. Not to forget Rob. And HUGE thanks to Sarah for her Herculean efforts in overcoming the effects of a rather late night and having such an obviously fun time. It always is at Black Jack.
Can’t wait for the Summer Brewtap’s return!
4 more brewdays to go. The end is in sight. Just over 3 ½ weeks until those doors open..... Few remaining tickets (Thursday evening only) available here.... See you at Hemsley House!