Eight brilliant breweries in Manchester serving up quality real ale and craft beer
From stupendous stouts to fabulous fruity pales, let’s raise a glass to celebrate the city’s vibrant scene.
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Real ale and craft beer have undergone a major resurgence in the last decade or so, with hundreds of breweries springing up the length and breadth of Britain. And Manchester has been no exception, fully playing its part in an explosion of hops-based creativity.
The city has a very long association with brewing, whether it’s the traditional pints of Joseph Holt, which started brewing in the mid 19th century, or Boddingtons which will be remembered by readers of a certain age for its advertising campaign proudly labelling it “The Cream of Manchester”.
Alongside those perfecting the time-honoured styles, though, are a raft of newer breweries dedicated to more exploratory adventures in beer.
New styles have joined increasingly-crowded bars and bottle fridges, while brewers have gained inspiration from the drinking scenes of areas including Belgium, Germany, the United States and more.
Here are nine breweries from Manchester which help to ensure the city is a brilliant place to raise a glass or two:
Cloudwater has made a massive impact on the craft beer scene since it came to notice a few years back.
It is known for its dazzlingly long list of creations and particularly specialises in slightly sour, cloudy and intensely fruity American-style beers. It has become well known for its DIPAs (double IPAs) and TIPAs (triple IPAs) and continually varies the hops it uses for slightly different flavours.
Cloudwater is now served in craft beer bars around the country but it has its own brewery tap on the Piccadilly Trading Estate, a short walk from the train station. In 2021, Cloudwater also took over the former Pilcrow Pub, renaming it Sadler’s Cat.
Yes, the name of this Salford-based concern really does reflect that it is run by seven siblings - the McAvoy clan. Seven Bro7hers produce an array of ales from IPAs and session sippers to dark stouts and has also unveiled its Seven Series, marking seven years in the business and giving each brother the chance to unleash the creative shackles and create their dream brew.
The brewery has grown rapidly and now has five locations in Manchester, including the taproom in Salford, as well as beerhouses at MediaCity, Middlewood Locks and Ancoats. The fifth location is their Amber Alehouse in Terminal Two at Manchester Airport, was was the brewery’s first deal with a national retailer. Outside of Manchester, you can find Seven Brothers beerhouses in Liverpool and Halifax.
This brewery has been dishing out its ales since 2012 and is now based in the city’s Green Quarter. It brews a wide range of drinks, from American styles such as East Coast Pale Ale and West Coast IPA to European-influenced brews such as pilsners and helles beers drawing on the beer traditions of Czechia and Germany respectively.
There are two Blackjack spots in Manchester city centre and they are conveniently located almost next door to each other. The first is their taphouse, the Smithfield Market Tavern, and the Jack in the Box market bar at Mackie Mayor foodhall.
Marble is now one of the most established names on the Manchester brewing scene, having poured its first pints in 1997.
Its session beers, such as Manchester Bitter and the aptly-named Pint, have proved a huge hit with pubs all over the place, while its other creations include the unique peppermint flavours of its Earl Grey IPA and deliciously fruit imperial stouts and porters.
It has also proved something of a training ground for top beer brewers, with a number of ale creators learning their trade at Marble and then going on to other concerns both in the city and across the country.
It has a taproom in Salford, but the main pub, The Marble Arch, is located on Rochdale Road – and the interiors of this pub alone are worth the visit. It is almost like stepping back in time with its glazed tiles, ornate floor mosaics and high ceilings.
Runaway aims to combine the traditions of brewing with the sense of fun and exploration that marks out the modern craft beer scene.
Its core range is made up of an IPA, a pale ale and an extra strong bitter (ESB), while its seasonal offerings range from summery saisons and sours to heartier glasses of smoked porter and gingerbread stout.
And its list of specialities and collaborations sees the brewery truly head off-piste, with beers containing yuzu, mango, cardamom and even scotch bonnet chillis. It regularly teams up with other organisations, exchanging ideas with everyone from fellow brewers to street food organisations.
In April 2023, Runaway moved their taproom to Stockport, 9-11 Astley Street, where they also have a bottleshop and beer garden.
Track has a fantastic creation story, as its founder discovered a love of craft beer while he was pedalling coast-to-coast across America during a round-the-world cycling odyssey. Back at home the brewery took shape under a railway arch and Track was born.
Unsurprisingly, given the Stateside inspiration for the firm, the brewery leans heavily towards the American brewing scene in its line-up. There are IPAs and DIPAs as well as a number of sours, in line with one of the major beer trends of the moment, including a blend of two fruit beers made with damson and plum aged in Pinot Noir wine barrels. You can find their taproom in unit 18 at the Piccadilly Trading Estate.
Shindigger started out in life as two students at university brewing beer for house parties.
Now somewhat more established, Shindigger is an example of a phantom brewery, which involves recipes being created at an HQ before the producers team up with partner concerns with premises to make the beers at their facilities using spare capacity.
The brewery says it creates beers which are enjoyable to drink in a session and leans towards the American style of ales, with East Coast flavoured products as well as the “fruity bois”, which are opaque and full of intense flavours such as their popular Mango Unchained. You can find Shindigger in bars all over Manchester.
In March 2023, Squawk brewery moved into their new Dale Street premises, taking over the Pelican Bar formerly occupied by Beatnikz brewery, which ceased trading last year.
Founded in 2013, their range of products includes a mixed berry sour, as well as stouts, IPAs and lagers, which come in cans decorated with beautiful illustrations of birds.