#ISBF5 - Wrap : Pt 2


Yes. People matter.

That’s the whole THING that underpins everything to do with The Independent Salford Beer Festival. People. Helping. Trying to make a difference. Of course the beer helps, but if you’ve been with us more than once, if like to think you get “it”. The feeling we try to create.

This feeling. It’s in the DNA of the event now. Like the word “friendly” shot through a stick of rock. We’ve tried to create a relaxed space. Comfortable. Respect. Good people drinking good beer. I loved the moment when Stan (the Chair of the building) looked in the main room, his face beaming. He didn’t know what to expect. Couldn’t believe what I’d told him about the drinkers that come to ISBF until he’d seen for himself.

You’re good people. You’ll realise HOW good later on.


One of the things we are most pleased about is the number of people who wanted to be involved via sponsorship. THAT was amazing. No major companies, no “banner” sponsor, just individuals and small independent businesses coming together, supporting a small independent event. And it’s to those businesses and people I want to turn to now and thank from our hearts. The ISBF Family salute you. You make a difference. As you will see. And we are so grateful that you take that punt on our little bash.


So. To the point of ISBF.

People. And helping.

This afternoon, myself, Gerry & TLO met the CEO of Start Inspiring Minds, Bernadette. A woman who is as passionate as us about helping people.

START was founded 25 years ago to help people with issues around mental health. And the main route to helping people regain self-esteem, to rebuild and to attain mental resilience, is through the arts. Creativity. Building into their members that they have ability, that they have a value.


Walking around the place, the various workshops - Ceramics, woodworking, textiles, painting - you get an idea as to the love in this place. That people MATTER. It felt …..right.

We spoke with Bernadette about that F word a lot. Feeling. That is how we have built this event. It needs to FEEL right.

And START feels like a good fit as a charity to support. So we will, With #ISBF6

But first, this year. I’m a little bit overawed by what we’ve achieved if I’m being honest. I’ve had an idea for a while as to how well we did. How YOU did. But (unusually) I kept quiet. Just to make sure I wasn’t mistaken. Thanks to your thirst, generosity and the hard work of the entire ISBF Family, START are better off to the tune of £11,000.

We’ve never raised that much before. I’ve got used to that figure for a couple of weeks, but Bernadette, Gerry & TLO were a bit stunned.

As I said earlier, it’s START’s 25th Anniversary this year. And that’s a nice present just before Xmas.

Thank you all. And a very Merry Xmas.

Roll on #ISBF6. Back soon.


#ISBF5 - Wrap : Pt 1

#ISBF Poster Tickets.jpg

I have absolutely no idea where to start this post. The last week has been a combination of blur and surprises to me. But, I’ll give it a go.

People. People matter. Things, beer, don’t matter anywhere near as much. Not to me anyway, nor – if I’m any judge – to the rest of the ISBF Family. That extended (and growing) group that comes together every year. To smile and dispense both beer and joy. And that is something that I – as the presiding officer of this beery shambles – insist on. For them – the “family” (the word “volunteers” doesn’t do them justice) – to enjoy themselves. Because if you can’t have fun doing this.....

So Where was I? Ah yes. People.


This event was conceived in the back room of Gerry’s house. To help people. To raise money to do just that. And, each year, with a fortuitous combination of good beer, good people and a “winging it”  attitude towards “organisation”, we’ve done just that. This event Isn’t “slick”. It isn’t “professional”. What it IS, is “from the heart”. When I “drop the mic”, a whole bunch of people pick it up and sing their bloody hearts out. And I love these people. They know this. If they don’t, I’ve failed.

Sean Carl.jpg

Since I flipped the lid from a bottle of “Twisted Spire” by Hobsons in September 2011, then wrote some fumbling nonsense about it, I’ve been on a journey. And learned loads about who makes good beer. And that makes what I do with ISBF really simple. And when you do something like this, simplicity matters.

Another thing that helps hugely – and I frequently call my “superpower”, it’s the knowing of lots of people who know how to do the clever stuff. All that technical stuff that I can’t. Setup, design, dispense troubleshooting. Not to forget the brewing of simply fabulous beer. I owe them all. Hugely.


In terms of gratitude (and I owe a LOT), before the event, the following people are paramount

TLO, Mick, Phil – in all likelihood, they’ll never read this. But without their forbearance and tolerance, this event couldn’t have happened over each of the last five years.

Gerry – I blame her for everything. She made me do it, she’s difficult to say no to. She’s my extended family’s matriarch. Our rock. And this year, without her contacting the Mayor of Salford, this event would have ceased.

Andy Heggs – Words fail me.

Lee, Sam, Gaz at All Flow Dispense. That set up. And take down. Just heroes. And I don’t say that lightly.

Rob Hamilton & Team Black Jack – I simply can’t afford to thank them as much as they deserve. It’s no exaggeration to say that without their help and tolerance of my mithering and intrusion, this doesn’t happen. Ta.

Malcolm Bastow – Brewer. Friend. Again, words fail me. Except, “That Candidate....... “

Jeff – For willingly organising the volunteering (and all the ancillary bits)

Sherpa & Jaz – Without you two, I’d have been shipwrecked on the Wednesday and Thursday. Handballing 1200 glasses from a pallet in the pouring rain is no joke.

Linda & Chris – you know.

Jo & Mike – Tunes. “Shit Wifey” comments. Standing at a “gin bar” for hours. You know I love you both. See you soon at The Nook.

gasman and heggs.jpg

Luckily, there’ll be a second post when I know how much we’ve raised and where our lovely sponsors will get their proper thanks.

That all said, it seemed to go alright. IF* this event ever happens again, there were several lessons learned. In order, they are.....

Slightly cheaper Saturday evening tickets. I really didn’t get how thirsty people would be. And the way those keg fonts were emptying so quickly gave me terrors! We started with 24 more keg beers than 2017. And they got drained. Without exception. Which leads to....

More keg. Especially at the lower abv “session” level. That volume was a close call. We do nearly ran out. Call it planning genius or accidental. But if all those with tickets on Saturday evening had turned up, we’d have run out by 9pm.

Less cask. But only a little. Because that almost all went too.

Controversially (for traditionalists). No handpulls. ALL cask will – if we do this again – be on stillage and served direct from the cask. And if I personally witness anyone getting angry with volunteers, they will be “asked” to leave. By me. This is beer. Something to enjoy. Not something to get ANGRY about because it’s a degree Kelvin warmer than recommended. These people give up their time to serve beer. They do it cheerfully. They do it because they care. Not because they wish to be abused.

I might even reduce numbers in the busier sessions. And up them slightly in the quieter ones.

In short, evolution. As in each year we’ve done this. No revolution. No “all you can drink”. No taster glasses. We don’t get everything right, but we try.

*About that IF business…….

#ISBF6 : 31st October to 2nd November 2019. At Hemsley House.

You may wish to diarise that date.

Tickets will be released on 25 August 2019. Forward planning eh?

And now, some sleep………….


#ISBF5 : Thursday 29th November to 1st December - So Here We Are


These things take time. And frequently (as Rabbie Burns is famously quoted as saying) “The best laid plans o mice an men aft gang agley. And oh BOY do they go agley!

From deciding/desiring to “go again” to getting here has taken about 8 months and it has certainly been an interesting journey – to put it mildly.

We’re almost at the stage where I hand this monster over, but for now, I’ll talk in the 1st person. This is me. Jim.

Once we’d secured Hemsley House (and I can’t WAIT for you to see it!) I wanted this to be a bit different. It had to be different. More space. More people = more beer. Over 25% more beer.

But we’ll come to that later.


It’s truly humbling to see and feel all the love for this event. It kind of means that we’ve got it to where we/I always wanted it to be. Good beer, good people and good music. All coming together. The three things that I care about most. Despite the new surroundings, this isn’t a fancy bash. It Isn’t – nor will it ever become – “up itself”. That would be most “un Northern”. And I/we are products of this environment, these twin cities of Salford & Manchester. And we don’t take ourselves too seriously up here.

And we love where we’re from. It’s in our blood. All of us involved. This wee family that comes together each year. I love these people.

So. Enough mawkishness. What’s going to happen next week.


Well. We open on Thursday 29th at 6pm for a start. That’s a quiet one. And all about the beer. With a little background music in the Rink Suite (#EvilKegFilth room). The cask room (Worsley Suite) will remain free of tunes. As will The Walker Suite (aka The Green Room)

Friday lunchtime the same. 11:30 opening. Good beer, good tunes. Same format.

Friday evening, will see Zacc Rogers play two sets in The Rink Suite. Go have a watch /listen on You Tube. He’s bloody good! Sets probably 7:30 & 8:30 ish. But that’s up to the artists! We’ll also have a presentation from Ryan of new Preston brewery Chain House. We’re proud to give them their first Mancunia exposure and I’m sure we’ll see a lot more of their beers in the coming year.

Saturday Lunch will see 2 presentations/chats.

Firstly – at approx 12:45 – Former National Champion Home Brewer, Andy Parker, he now of Elusive Brewing, will be talking matters Home Brewing. Man knows his stuff.

Shortly afterwards we will have an MTB style thing with exciting new Yorkshire venture SALT Brewing (They’ve got theprettiest of set ups!)

All meetings will be in The Walker Suite.

Saturday evening, live music again with the ace voice of Elly Grice and the Guitar Merlin that is George Fell (anyone who watched him last year, knows)


The beers will be at a range of prices generally (with certain limited exceptions) in the following price ranges…

Cask :

Up to 3.5% - £3 a pint

3.6 – 4.5 £3.30

4.6 – 5.5 £3.60

5.6 – 6.0 £3.90

6.0 – 6.9 £4.20

7.0 – 7.9 £4.80

8.0 – 8.9 £5.10

9.0 – 9.9 £5.40

10 and above £6.00

Beers 7% and above only served in ½ Pt and 1/3 Pt measures. With some exclusively in 1/3 Pt measures.


3.0 – 3.9 £3.90

4.0 – 4.9 £4.50

5.0 - 5.9 £5.10

6.0 - 6.9 £5.70

7.0 - 7.9 £6.30

8.0 - 8.9 £6.90

9.0 – 9.9 £7.50

10 & above £9.00

Again, Beers 7% and above only served in ½ Pt and 1/3 Pt measures. With some exclusively in 1/3 Pt measures.

These aren’t “rip off” prices. I don’t do that. And please remember, ALL profits go to charity.

The prettiest beer festival T-shirts ever will be on sale at £17.50 in grey and red. They’re gorgeous. And I thank my Design Genius, webmaster and all round good (H)egg Andy for the beautiful look.

The food – once again – will be of the wholesome type. Think hotpots / Chillis etc.


Big thanks to the following – without whom this wouldn’t be happening….

Team Black Jack. Without whom the beer wouldn’t be here. Utter stars

Malcolm Bastow of Five Towns. Ditto for Yorkshire. And for other reasons only he knows and I’m not telling.

Lee & Sam at All Flow Dispense. 5 years of installing bars in the face of my chaos. Cheers fellas.

Dave & Jen at The Northern Type – For sponsoring our glassware.

Bailey & Jules at GRUB – for so much. And the sound system!

OK. What you really want to see is what’s below. So. Fill your boots. It’s taken 8 months to get this lot together, with lots of changes since the initial brewery list was published. Hope you enjoy it.

Please NB. The aim is to source beers new to Manchester. This isn’t ALWAYS possible. Some can and DO slip through the net, for certain I’m no Untappd or Ratebeer hound – as anybody who knows me knows all too well. But it IS the aim. To give you 94 beers new to the area. And it’d bloody hard work.

So don’t shoot me if I’ve missed one or two!

Read responsibly.

See you next week.

Jim & The ISBF Family


Brewery                               Beer                                                                      Style                      ABV

Abbeydale                          Raspberry and peanut butter BA               Imperial Stout   10

Bad Seed                            Super Sobremesa (Coffee & Almond)      Stout                     8.5

Beatnikz                              I Session San Diego                                          Session Pale     4.2

Beer Nouveau                   Tarragon The Dragon                                      Stout                     8.4

Black Jack                           Deck of Cards                                                     US Brown Ale     5.6

Blackedge                           Nelson Sauvin                                                    Session Pale       3.8

Blue Bee                              Archimedes Principle                                      Pale Ale                4.2

Brass Castle                        Funkshine                                                           Bretted IPA         5.7

Brew York                           Amber Gambler (Wood cask aged)           US Amber            4.7

Cheshire Brewhouse      Crush Collision                                                   Session Pale       4

De Ranke                            XX Bitter                                                              Belgian Blond     6

Distant Hills                        White Peach Milkshake                                 Session IPA         4.2

Elusive x North Riding     Mochachino                                                       US Red Ale          5.8

Five Towns                         Candidate                                                           Breakfast Stout 9

Five Towns                         Sweet Thing                                                       Melon Pale         5.5

Five Towns x Rivington   Sweet Thing (Reprise)                                    Imperial Fruited

Milkshake IPA    9

Neptune                             Atlantic Ridge                                                    US Brown Ale     5.5

Night Jar                            Turbo Tuk Tuk                                                   Thai IPA               5.2

North Riding x Elusive     India Porter                                                        Porter                   6.7

Pictish                                Caradoc's Thirst                                                Table Beer          2.9

Pomona Island                  Best Ever Death Metal

Band Out of Salford                                         Mandarin Pale   5.5

Rammy Craft                      Little Wonder                                                    Session Pale       3.6

Redwillow                          Tearless v4 (Cryo Hop)                                   Table Beer        3

Revolutions                        Phantasmagoria                                               Oatmeal Pumpkin

Brown Ale 4.5 

Runaway x GRUB             Pineapple Upside Down Cake                     Cake!                    5.5

SALT Brewing                   Jute                                                                      Session IPA         4

Thirst Class                       Dandelion & Burdock Pale                            Special Pale        4.8

Tigertops                          Honey Bear Honey Pale

(Orval Yeast)      4

Torrside v Runaway        Social Distortion                                               Pale Ale            5.6

Turning Point                   Yellow Matter Custard                                   Vanilla Wheat

Pale                     6

Vocation                          Imperial Russian Stout                                   Imperial Stout   10.6

Wigan Brewhouse           All American 5 Hop                                          Session Ale         4

Wilde Child                         Enfant Terrible                                                  Milkshake

Table Pale           3.1

Wishbone                            The Black Imp                                                    Imperial Stout    8.7




Brewery                               Beer                                      Style                                      ABV

6th Day Brewing               Land of Make Believe     Mandarin Champale       5.50

8 Arch                                  Dainty                                   NE Pale                                 4.80

Abbeydale                          Table Bretted Saison       Dry Hopped Saison          3.60

Almasty                               Dank                                     NE IPA                                  6.00

Ampersand                        Lemon Voyage                  Lemon Verbena

Brut IPA                               6.00

Beer Ink                              Maude The Merrier         Canadian Breakfast

Stout                                     8.80

Bexar County                     Thin Line Between           Green Tea, Mango and

Genius & Insanity II         Sriracha Pale                      6.60

Bexar County (c)               Getting The Band Back

Together                             Mini Porter                         3.10

Big Fish Brew Co               Division 1                             NEIPA                                  6.70

Black Lodge                      Origami Unicorn               DDH Pale                             5.00

Bone Machine                   Día de Muertos                 Mexican Stout                   7.40

Boutillers                           Jam Sandwich Pale          Pale Ale                                4.60

Brew By Numbers            tbc                                          Cranberry Wit                    5.50

Brick                                   Blackcurrant & Sumac    Sour                                     3.60

Buxton                                Cherry Sour                        Fruited Berliner Weisse 3.50

Chain House Brew Co     Shorts in October             Hazy Pale Ale                     5.00

Cloudwater                        "Cherry and Sea Salt"      Imperial Stout                   11.00

Cwrw Ial                              Lager                                     Lager                                    5.00

Double Barreled               Raspberry & Beetroot    Gose                                    5.00

Elusive                                 Bless The Rains                  Coffee Hazelnut Porter       7.00

Elusive x North Riding     India Porter                        Porter                                   6.70

Fierce                                  6pm Sinner                         Amber DIPA W/Lime       8.50

Hawkshead                         Autumn Equinox              Blackberry Sour                3.30

Kernel                                 Dry Stout Centennial      Stout                                    4.40

Korupted Brew Co            Beaucoup de Baies

Fourrees                              Saison                                  5.80

LHG                                    Otherlands                         Cascadian Black                 6.60

Liquid Light                        Electric Machine               IPA                                      6.50

Little Earth                         Dandelion de Garde                                                        8.40

Loka Polly                          Chinook / Mosaic (ONLY KEG!)DIPA                                  8.60

Lost & Grounded              Take Me To The Top        IPA                                   6.80

Macc Brew Co                   We All Hail Hail                  Yuzu & Sorachi Pale         5.00

Magic Rock                         Dairyfreak (Hazelnut)     Milk Ice Porter                  5.20

Mallinsons                          Lager                                     Lager                                5.00

Marble                                Decadence 2018               Imperial Stout                   10.50

Marble x

Wander Beyond               Found Your Marbles       Fruit Blended Impy          11.00

Mills                                    Picture Pot                          Blended Sour                   6.30

Neon Raptor                      Endangered                       Oak Bourbon

Vanilla Porter                   6.60

Neptune x Tom's Tap      Farmhouse IPA                 Farmhouse IPA                 7.20

Northern Alchemy           Cola Sour                             Sour                                  4.00

Northern Monk                tbc                                          DIPA                                  9.00

Pilot                                   Brut IPA Brut IPA                            6.00

Rivington                          Stock Ale                             Stock Ale                          7.70

Runaway (c)                     Coffee & Chocolate         White Stout                       6.50

Six Degrees North            Snowy                                  Belgian Winter ale           7.50

Squawk                             Fusca                                     Chocolate Vanilla Stout 9.00

Staggeringly Good          Ekuanodon                         Vermont DIPA                 7.40

Thirst Class x

 Tickety Brew                  Plum & Licorice Stout     Stout                                6.20

Thornbridge                   Mint Choc Chip Lucaria  Ice Cream Porter            4.50

Three Blind Mice            Bretted Gooseberry       Saison                              5.20

Tom's Tap                       Imperial Brown

Breakfast Stout                 Imperial Brown Stout     6.00

Torrside                         Destination Unknown    Double Ruby IPA             9.50

Track                               Hedgerow Sour

(collab w/Garage Brewing)            Sour                                5.50

Twisted Barrel                Behold A Pale Horse       DH Belgian Tripel           9.00

Verdant                          #6                                           DIPA                               8.00

Vibrant Forest               Luciferin                               Black Imperial Lime

Gose                               7.40

Watts & Co                   Paddington Pale Ale        Lime Marmalade Pale     4.30

Weird Beard                 JD Barrel Aged Sadako   Imperial Stout                9.50

Wild Weather               Strawberry Daiquiri         Pale                                5.00

Wilderness                   Equinox Saison                  Mixed Culture Saison                                                                  (Burgundy BA Blended with fresh Saison)              5.20

Wylam                         Pigs Ear - Art & Beer       Pale Ale                          5.00


Please note. There WILL be a small, select & local Gin Bar and there WILL be ciders. I just don’t know quite what yet!

Some of those beasties are UNIQUE to us. Some you may never see in Manchester again. All (or near as) will be new to Manchester.

And they’re all for you. Enjoy.

See you next week!


#ISBF5 Collab Brew No 13 - Distant Hills

A little surprise to me was this. A final brewday! The design genius that is Mr H took some time out from being whipped mercilessly by YT to go and have some fun.


Take it away mon genius!

“It’s well known that the Independent Salford Beer Festival is unique insofar as every beer that Jim showcases are ones you will not have had before. It’s nothing short of amazing that literally every beer available is a first for Greater Manchester. This comes from Jim’s not inconsiderable persuasive powers, encouraging brewers to collaborate, concoct and come up with something you won’t have had from them before. Guaranteed. (I didn’t pay for that - Jim)

This year is no different, but it’s not just new and never before had beers. There’s even new breweries, ventures and new projects to discover. THAT’S how powerful a pull this festival has.


And the latter is why I find myself in a cavernous yet sauna like warehouse at an undisclosed location in Derbyshire at - a pretty civilised in brewing terms - 9am on a Thursday morning. Seriously, I had to sign a NDA before they let me over the threshold. Every photo taken (by my sharp eyed mate Nick) was vetted. This is a set up playing their cards very close to their chests, for now.


And no wonder. A 24 hectolitre steam driven brewhouse is a sight to behold. I’ve been to a few brew days but never on a kit the size of which requires a sweeping staircase to access the mash and lauter tuns. This is the cutting edge of craft right here.

Italian made, recently shipped in via three lorry loads and fitted by a team flown over especially to commission it, this thing is a BEAST. So much of a beast in fact a whole wall needed to be removed to get the thing in.

The steam that is the blood to this brewing organism clicks, whirrs, rattles it’s way round the system - and at points does a very good impression of the Flying Scotsman pulling to a stop. 


The brew team are still breaking the kit in, and taming the beast. This was only the fifth brew on the kit, so the day wasn’t without its moments. There’s still one or two technical creases to iron out but nothing prevented the brew from coming out EXACTLY as planned. And nothing that a layman like me would have noticed had it not been for the odd furrowed brow or head scratch from the brew team.


I won’t bore you with the brewing process, I’m sure you all know what goes on when and in what order, but of course you want to know what was cooked up. Well, for starters hop-wise its got Hercules for bittering, followed by Citra, Calypso and Wolf later on in the process. As well as lactose. And 20 kilos of peach puree. You can see where this is going.

You’ll be enjoying a White Peach Milkshake Session IPA at 4.2%. 

If you get to it before I drink it all. “

Thank you my little Stormtrooper!

Come sample this mystery. For the very first time. Here. At Hemsley House. And #ISBF5.

#ISBF5 Collab Brew No 12 - Blue Bee

It’s a rare thing that a brewery sneaks up on my taste buds. Where you find yourself – without actual consideration – ordering their beer where you see it. Because it’s consistently excellent.

That’s Blue Bee for me. I clearly remember the online conversation with Josh (Brewer) last year. When he offered me one of two beers. A Session Pale (which my head NEEDED) and a rich dark (which my HEART needed!). I put it to a team vote in a rare moment of weakness. The team voted for the Stout.

It ended being the fastest seeking cask at #ISBF4.

So you can see why I’m in Sheffield at 8 am yesterday (Saturday) morning.


And I got lost. But fortunately, a nice busman pointed me in the right direction!

Many months ago, Josh agreed to host us for a brewday and wanted to do a Session Pale. I was delighted. I wouldn’t say that was a forte, as I’ve never had a bad pint of Blue Bee. But his session pales are just delicious. Crisp, sharp, hoppy, dry. ALL my boxes ticked.

The fact that I was sweating over my average abv made the idea of a session Pale all the more joyous!


Located a short walk from the sprawling Kelham Island area, I walked in to Josh getting the grains ready. I looked around the brewery. Logical. Set up for ease of use, simplicity. But, but, what’s those SQUARE things??


Yorkshire Squares! Those fermenting vessels of legend! And my first sighting in the wild. Josh explained their usage and what they bring. He explained a lot of things yesterday. It was an educational day all round.

All Pale malt. Simple. The gravity fed grain mixed from above meant that mahjong (or “mashing”, depending on your predictive text!) was a joy.


Hops. Hmmm...... Bittering? Columbus. SO aromatic. In with 3/4kg. Instant aroma hit. Fruity and delicious.


Then, the waiting. Which meant all the laptop stuff I couldn’t do on the train. I caught up in time for late hop addition. A hop that I’d never previously used. Eureka! Archimedes missed out. Bloody hell these smelled beautiful!. 10kg. And the brewery erupted with tropical fruit notes. Just WOW! I hope it’s not the last time I use these!


The way the brewery is set up (to my mind) contributed to how smooth this brewday went. For me, as much as the beer – and the rapid dig out (with farmer turning up unexpectedly!) - this was about talking with a young man steeped in Sheffield. Totally immersed in the beer industry of this brilliant beer city. There seemed to be nothing - or no-one Josh didn’t know.

After the brew, we went for a walk. Via a few beers. With standouts being two Sheffield stalwarts. The Kelham Island Tavern (my VERY FIRST Pictish dark beer!) and a delicious Blue Bee 5 Hop, then Shakespeare. And an excellent North Riding.


Josh even made sure I didn’t get lost on my way to the train station too!

Truly, I’m glad all these brew days are done. I’m shattered and my body clock is completely askew (I’m a day out). But with days like this, I feel like I could go on forever. Talking and making beer with someone whose beer thoughts are almost a mirror. With whom I agreed with on SO much. It was an utter pleasure. Cheers Josh!

So, what have we got coming? With an additional 5kg of Enigma in dry hop, we’re going to get a Sessionable Pale Ale. At about 4.4% abv. Punchy and fruity. Dry with a nice bitterness. It’s precisely what we/you need. From a brewery that does this SO well.

Can’t wait. Come and join us. It’s going to be fun!

#ISBF5 Collab Brew No 11 - Pictish Brewery


What can you say about Pictish? Are they hip? No. Are they fashionable? No. So what? Why? What do Pictish actually DO?

Well, “they” (Paul) in my educated opinion, make the finest session Pale Ale this side of the Pennines. Only Mallinsons rival. And I introduced them to each other. And am in awe of what they both do.


If you speak to “people in the know”, many will sigh “Ahhhhhh.... Brewers Gold*.....”. Simply put, if you want session Pale Ale on this side of the Pennines in cask, look no further. I – for one – am a HUGE fan. If I see Pictish on a bar, then they other beers can wait. This isn’t me hyping – I’ll leave that to others – just me. I adore consistency of excellence. And That’s what I get from Paul Wesley.


It’s why I’m at Rochdale Station. At 6:50 am.


I spoke with Paul about his brewing plan. And what he suggested made my heart sing. A Table Beer. That sub genre that I – for one – thought was going to take off this year. One that was sharp. And hoppy. A sweet song to my ears....

Mash in was simple. Pale malt with a bit of Cara and Oat. Pale, with body. Win. Hops? Brewers Gold and Cascade for bittering. Done. And they smelled SO GOOD. So aromatic. Almost good enough to be the late addition. But there were other ideas. I got to choose..... 😊


Transfer? Lovely and pale. But that was only the half of it. I’ve described Paul to others as like a blood cell with five different things to do. Simultaneously. He’s a blur of movement. And – like many brewers – He’s acutely tuned to the sounds of his kit. And today wasn’t simple. Today was akin to Pump Armageddon. And the skills of an artisan brewer were essential. Plumbing. Engineering. The kinds of things that you need to do when a pump fails. Other brewers will sigh with understanding. And my admiration of their skill sets increases.


From an outsider? Sensory overload. Aromas were lovely. And that was BEFORE the late hop decision. Which was mine. Yum.

How to choose? Stick your head in a bag and inhale like you’re Bill Clinton. Ahhhhhhhhhh........Citra...

Yup. I could resist. I was like a lemming on top of a cliff. And I jumped. Tropically. Oh the smells!

And then..... Transfer pitch and done. It wasn’t QUITE that simple, but things rarely are in the world of the artisan. Like I said, I am complete awe of the skills of the lone brewer. It’s far from just about grains, hops and yeast.


So. What have we got? A 2.9% table beer. I got to choose the hops. I got to choose the name.

My thought process went something like...... Pictish...... Celtic symbolism....... History nerd (me)...... Great Celtic Warrior....... Caradoc! (The Roman derivation was Caractacus). It’s a Table Beer, therefore meant to slake Thirst.... Caradoc’s Thirst! Say hello. You’re going to love this!

*What did I say about Brewers Gold?

*What did I say about Brewers Gold?