Tuesday, 25 February 2014

Manchester CAMRGB #Twissup...

Starting at midday and visiting some of Manchester's finest beer haunts for the next 12 hours, there was no doubt that the Manchester CAMRGB #Twissup (it's really difficult to write that without the hashtag!) was going to get messy! Surprisingly for me it didn't, despite drinking copious amounts of fine ales, it was more a civilised *ahem* opportunity to meet the people I've often chatted beer with many-a-times on the Twitter.

The promised land...
The days proceedings kicked off at the jewel in Manchester's crown - Marble Arch, the birth place of the much beloved Marble Brewery. With it's sloping floor this place makes you feel tipsy before you've even taken a sip of any of their superb beers. Myself and Tom (@thomasrolewis) were representing the Macc Homebrew Club Massive and as Dom of Thornbridge had given a talk at the last meet we thought it fitting to start off this beerathon with a half of Dobber, which Dom had more of a hand in creating during his stint there. I've said it before and I'll no doubt I'll say it again, you just can't go wrong with a Marble! At this point the place was starting to fill up fast and we figured the folk without City scarves and not ordering food were here for the beer. We were right! You know what they say - eat and you cheat! We hadn't been there long before the Marble guys started handing out the promised "special" beer, and boy was it special. A 10.8% Imperial Stout! We were actually sat away from the main crowd at this point, but moved like lightning to grab a glass when we noticed people sampling it and nodding in approval. This was a good opportunity to start meeting these Twitter avatars I've been relating with in the cyberweb. I introduced myself to the #twissup organiser and fellow blogger/homebrewer - Connor Murphy of Then a forthright fellow introduced himself, it was of course Jim of BeersManchester and champion of Northern beers! Jim in turn introduced me to Paddy of AllBeerNoBelly. My god this shit just started getting real! The great thing is, thanks to Twitter, we're already friends. No small talk needed, lets just big up the beer.

Can you hear the angels sing?
After a couple more of top Marble halves it was time to saddle up and move on to Blackjack Beers Brewery, just down the road...literally! Down a steep incline, to even steeper stairs and under a railway arch. Holy crap, it's a piss-up in a brewery! Despite a teaser picture of the makeshift bar on Twitter earlier in the day, I don't think anyone quite expected how frickin' good it was going to be. Rob and his guys had set up a selection of Blackjacks own fine ales (brewed on Marble's old kit), along with some other goodies from the likes of Burning Sky and a superb collab Arbor/Alchemy. The best bit? It was dirt cheap! They had set up an honesty 'conical flask', drop your dosh and pour your own. Having never poured a pint in my life I went straight in for Blackjack's own DoppelKopf (excellent by the way!), what I ended up with is a pint of froth, but I didn't care...I was only pouring my own beer in the brewery it was made! With more people arriving it was another opportunity to strike up conversation with random people. I sparked up a conversation with a fellow by the name of Cameron, a name that I recognised. A flash of his branded top confirmed he was another blogger from AllYouNeedsIsBeer! Christ we were all out today. This reminded me I needed to pick up my medium CAMRGB t-shirt from Simon, the founder of the glorious organisation that started all this mayhem. We chatted about music and the parallels of microbreweries and indie record labels, and how CAMRGB has exploded into something beyond his wildest dreams, even to the point where CAMRA have been paying close attention with beady eyes. We all love some drunken anarchy don't we? Simon is a busy chap so I offered my blogging services and hopefully will be throwing a few official CAMRGB updates up in the near future, once I get my own house in order.

Everyone was having much fun, enthusing about the top beers and location. There was only one place in Manchester that could drag us away from such luxury - Port Street Beer House. Waiting there was the unveiling of Quantum Brewery's Bock. It was from this point on that things start getting hazy. I bumped into Jay of Quantum and commended him on the excellent Bock, which was also the first time he'd got to sample it. After chatting to a few twissupers (sorry guys I forget names, but get in touch!), before we knew it, myself and Tom were in conversation with Rob of Blackjack, Shane of Cheshire Brewhouse and Michelle from Offbeat, the cream of Northern brewing! For a couple of aspiring brewers, life doesn't get better than that! We were grinning from ear-to-ear!

The merry folk...
At some point the shout came to move onwards, to Font Bar...hoorah! Food here I come! The last time I went in Font was many moons ago, I remember it being quite a studenty place, and I think we were all pleasantly surprised with the stuff that was on tap. There were two Blackjack beers on pump and I joked with Rob saying I doubt the bar staff would have believed him if he said he was the brewer. Anyway, the pull of Magic Rock's High Wire was too much to avoid. That stuff is bloody marvelous! With food and a few more scoops in my belly the atmosphere was at a high and the laughs were flowing. The Macc Homebrew club contingent got one stronger with the arrival of Graham (@arrowsails), who by default also made a beeline for the High Wire too. What a cracking night it's been so far! At some point the shout to move on came again, not that I really remember it...

A cab ride later a bunch of us ended up in some Salford scrubland walking towards an illuminated railway archway in drunken slow motion - it was like a scene from an indie film. We must be at First Chop! I tell you, it's not what I was expecting - part DIY project, part trendy bar. With a half of HOP in my hand myself, Tom, Rich Caller (@rcaller, an accomplished homebrewer) and Shane stood around and chatted about things I don't remember, but I do recall plenty of laughs.

Unfortunately, living in Macclesfield, I had to be mindful of the train situation, especially when I'm essentially in a different city than the train station I need to be in! So talk eventually moved on to going home, but luckily we were all heading towards Piccadilly so a cab share was in order. We said our goodbyes to our fellow #twissup survivors and promised that whatever happens on the #twissup stays on the #twis...ermm...gets blogged about. I've held my side of the bargain. Big thanks to Connor and all those involved, it was a bloody cracking night! Until the next time fellow drunken Twitterers! 

UPDATE: For more takes on the days events check out BeersManchesterCAMRGB blog and of course Beer Battered.