Kicking off a series of Manchester brewery reviews, including Cloudwater and Track, is Alphabet Brewing Company which we recently visited to go on their brewery tour and have a few drinks in the taproom. The brewery, known for its exceptional can artwork and signature core range, has been on my list for a while to visit so couldn’t miss the opportunity when in Manchester for the weekend. Here’s the lowdown and everything you need to know about Alphabet Brewing Company.
Address: 99 N Western St, Manchester M12 6JL
We arrived in plenty of time for the Saturday afternoon tour and was pleasantly surprised to see a good number of people join us (8 in total). Before heading into the brewery, there was time to drink one of the four samples available with a further one offered as you headed in. This was a nice touch rather than having them all after!
Included as part of the £15 entry is 3 x 1/2 pints of their core range and 1/3 of anything else on in the taproom that day. Excellent value in my opinion. During the 45 minute tour of their brewery, the guide explained in depth their brewing process, the hops and why ABC predominantly uses dry hops and also their canning line. Unlike several tours which regurgitate the same thing, the ABC tour was actually focused on their outputs and was informative without being boring.
On conclusion of the tour which is a nice length of time – you are given your final 1/2 and then you are free to enjoy the taproom and your final 1/3 at your own leisure.
The three core beers given as 1/2’s on the day were Charlie Don’t Surf, A to the K and Juice Springsteen. Charlie Don’t Surf (★★★) a 4% Session IPA was a lovely start, offering fruity aromatic hops with hints of grapefruit and some other tropical fruits. Whilst sweet sounding, there was a lovely bitterness to the taste which was unexpected from the smell. Light in colour with a creamy white head, Charlie Don’t Surf is about as good as it gets for a session IPA.
Walking around the brewery on the tour we samples A to the K (★★★★) a 5.6% APA which was full of hops, again offering a nice bitterness on the palate. The use of oats added a really fresh dimension and we have since bought several cans since leaving.
The only beer I’d had before coming to ABC was Juice Springsteen (★★★) a 4.5% Tropical IPA. Never has a beer had fuller mango and grapefruit flavours and had I drank it before the exceptional A to the K, it would have probably had more than 3★ – excellent all the same!
On the menu that day was a good range of styles, flavours and strength beers. My partner went for the Moose Springsteen (★★★★) a Tropical Milkshake IPA that was, in reality, Juice Springsteen with some added lactose; but it did make a significant difference to the texture and flavours and I’d happily have continued to drink that all day. I on the otherhand went big and sampled the, quite brilliant, You’re So Vain (★★★★★) which was, hands down, one of the best beers drank this year so far. The 11% Salted Caramel Stout was everything I could have asked for after reading the description. It was warm, creamy and not too overpowering for a beer that strong. The saltiness was extraordinary – we’ve certainly come a long way from the ridiculously sweet equivalents breweries were pumping out a few years ago!
Also on the menu was an 8% DIPA (Too Old To Skate), a 4.8% Pilsner (Hoi Polloi) and a 5.3% Cranberry Bock (Carry on Krampus) amongst others, really showing their brewing range, truly something for everyone.
The taproom itself was welcoming. Although a little bit of a dodgy walk away from Manchester Picadilly, once at ABC it’s warm and the friendly bar staff add to that. Great outside space with enough for 20+ people sat and the bar itself can cater for that twice over. As mentioned, there’s always a fantastic range of beer and they also have a takeaway fridge, well stocked with their impressively designed cans. Brewery tours are every Saturday at 1pm and can be booked at their Web Store – https://www.alphabetbrewing.co.uk/webshop/brewery-tour.
Outstanding. Loved every minute of my experience at ABC and can confidently say I’ll be returning. It seems there are limited stockists of their beers near me in York so I’m going to have to wait a while to drink their beer, but if I were Manchester based I’d always have some of their cans in my fridge. Everything you need to know about the brewery can be found on their website or on their social media channels.
Photo Credit: Alphabet Brewing Company Facebook Page