As some of you may know I’m originally from Blackpool, moving to Manchester just over 5 years ago. Blackpool had no beer scene to speak of. There were some good pubs and the beer was alright. Mainly local cask ale from the North West and no keg. Before I left you could get possibly Brewdog Punk IPA in The Taps, Lytham.
I visited Manchester as often as I could before moving and by the time I’d moved I was enjoying the great beer that the city had on offer. There weren’t as many micro breweries as there are now with many of the taps hosting Thornbridge, Buxton and Marble. It was way before Brewdog Manchester opened too so some pubs had the old Brewdog tap towers in providing Punk IPA, Hardcore IPA or 5 AM Saint on draft.
Settling in Manchester, I often frequented The Knott and Cask at the end of Deansgate, The City Arms on Kennedy Street or Port Street Beer House. All serving a high standard of cask beer from some of the best breweries in the UK. I was mainly drinking cask ale by the pint but then on 27th November 2011 something happened that changed everything. (I know the exact date as I looked back through Facebook and found that I had posted on the day)
I got a text from a friend asking me to meet him at Port Street Beer House in the afternoon. It was unexpected and sounded a little urgent so I got organised and headed out. I walked through the bar to the beer garden at the rear only to see my companion for the afternoon reading a book on taxidermy (… we’ll just shelf that). In front of him was a small straight glass holding a third of a thick, dark stout with an orange head. “Go and get one of these” he said.
I went up to the bar and looking up at the chalkboards I saw the beer in question. Hardknott Brewery’s Vitesse Noir 11%. This beer was rich and not to be rushed. A bold orange head with aromas of vanilla and coffee billowing out. The taste was incredibly chocolaty and the bitterness perfectly complimented its sweet counterparts. It was beer though, but it was like no other beer I’d had before. I believe this was the beer that turned me to “craft” beer.
This beer is the reason I now enjoy massive imperial stouts, barrel aged barley wines, tart, fruity sours and super charged hop monsters.
This beer is the reason I spend hours in the garage creating my own beers; bottling and kegging them to share with friends and family.
This beer is the reason I head off to Europe for some of the best beer festivals in order to sample the finest beers available.
And for this, I thank you Dave Bailey and the Hardknott Brewery team.