I’ve accidentally had another hiatus from blogging which is a real shame because I’ve been to some great beer festivals and attended some really special experiences over the last few months. One of the reasons I’ve been off the blog lately is that my partner and I are in the process of buying a house in Levenshulme, Manchester and I’ve been busy dealing with estate agents, solicitors and various other professions previously unknown to me. Another key reason is that I’ve been busy balancing my full-time job with a part-time role as a Tour Guide for UK Brewery Tours – a company that offers tours and brewery experiences across the UK. I thought for my first blog in a while, I’d talk about this experience and why I’ve been enjoying it so much.
I started as a guide back in August and initially only did a couple of tours, but then took on a few more in the run up to Christmas and am now doing roughly two a month. There are two tours available in Manchester – the Manchester Microbrewery Experience tour which takes guests around three breweries and the Manchester Beer Tasting Tour where guests are taken on a tutored tasting in a few of the local breweries. So far I have only guided the Experience tour, however I will be doing a few tasting tours soon. UK Brewery Tours also provides the option for you to book private tours for smaller groups and I’ve also guided a few of these.
The Experience tour meets upstairs at Piccadilly Tap near Manchester Piccadilly Train Station and once all the guests have arrived the guides take them on the 20 minute walk to the first brewery stop, Beer Nouveau. The Experience tour usually has two guides as we have groups of up to 25 people, however the tasting tours and private tours usually only have one guide as the groups are smaller. At the first stop, Steve Dunkley, the experienced brewer and beer historian at Beer Nouveau does a very detailed tour where guests get to try at least three different beers, as well as a variety of malts. They also get to feel and smell a few different variety of hops. Steve’s talk is always really popular with the guests and by the time we leave Beer Nouveau, they are all chatting and having a laugh with one another. Most people on the tour have been bought it as a present so you tend to get many smaller groups of 2/3 people booking on. Sons buying it as a present for their dad, plenty of couples, as well as groups of friends looking for a good time.
The next stop on the tour is Alphabet Brewery which is a short 5 minute walk from Beer Nouveau. Alex at Alphabet takes the guests on a short tour of the equipment while we present them with their first beer. The guests get two halves at Alphabet and we try and vary it up so they are trying a wide variety of different beers. For example, on my last tour I got them the Small Packages Table Beer, which at 2.8% was nice and light after some of the stronger beers they’d had at Beer Nouveau (including an outstanding stock ale!). I then followed this up with the Juice Springsteen Tropical IPA for something slightly different and packed full of juicy flavours.
The final stop on the tour is Track Brewery, which recently opened its new tap room at the top of an apartment building. We always try and remember to warn the guests beforehand as there are quite a few steps up to the tap room! It’s worth it when you arrive at the top though – a warm and welcoming space with plenty of benches and a ping pong table. We always finish by giving the guests Track’s most well known beer, Sonoma (a 3.8% pale ale). You can’t really go wrong with a Sonoma and it nearly always goes down well. This is where the tour officially ends but we always try and stick around for a bit in case any of the guests have questions or want any recommendations. We usually try and point out Cloudwater on the way to Track too because many people are keen to go on there afterwards and experience whats been named the second best brewery in the world.
What I love most about doing the brewery tours is meeting such an amazing array of people. I love working with my fellow guides who are all lovely people, passionate about beer. I also love the guests who for the most part seem to really enjoy the tour and like getting to know us along the way. I’ve even made friends with a few people off the tour and met up with them afterwards. If I could do this full time then I would! As well as being a passionate beer lover, the other thing I love about the industry is how friendly and supportive everyone is. It really does make it all worth it.
If you haven’t already been on a UK Brewery Tour then you should definitely give it a go. Tours are available in many different cities with others being added all the time. And you never know, if you join the Manchester tour you might be guided by me – if you do then I look forward to meeting you!