So, we’re halfway through 2020 and who would have thought the year would have panned out like this? Enjoying pints in pubs and brewery taprooms feels like something from the distant past and social catch ups with friends in your favourite local feels like an alien concept, replaced by Zoom hang outs which although enjoyable, are not quite the same. I for one have been taking it as my own personal responsibility to ensure that all my favourite pubs and breweries are able to survive through this difficult time, which has meant that I have not quite been making the ‘lockdown savings’ I could have been! N.B. I am in the very fortunate position of my job not being affected by the pandemic.
The last Manchester beer tour I guided for UK Brewery Tours was on Saturday 14 March – shortly before the lockdown was announced – and we’ve not been able to run any tours since. I have really missed talking to strangers about the Manchester beer scene so thankfully, my friend and fellow tour guide Sarah asked me to take part in the first of her new ‘quick pint and a catch up’ events on Facebook Live. As we’ve been having so many beer deliveries during lockdown, we decided to have this as our theme so I thought it would be worth collating my notes into a short blog post about some of the great beer deliveries services from breweries in Manchester that I’ve been making the most out of during lockdown. (if you would like to catch up on the live event you can do so here: https://www.facebook.com/sarahannhyde/videos/2584860398421882/)
Alphabet – https://alphabetbrewing.co.uk/collections/all
Alphabet have been running an amazing delivery service during lockdown, where if you order before 2pm you get your beers delivered the same day. They’ve had a scattering of great new releases during the period too from an excellent pilsner, to the latest beer trend – Sabro pale ales. I’ve found during lockdown that my boyfriend and I have been buying a lot of more “out there” stuff, like imperial stouts, imperial goses and various mad sours, but sometimes (and more often than not) all I really want is a really well made sessionable beer and I think Alphabet always does them very well. I miss going to Alphabet as they are a great bunch of guys making great beers. I’m looking forward to having some draft straight from the source once things go back to normal but until then, I’m happy with getting cans delivered from Alphabet which always taste fresh.
Beatnikz Republic – http://www.beatnikzrepublic.com/shop
Beatnikz have mainly been doing 3L and 5L cask boxes and crowler cans for delivery and there’s been a pretty wide variety of beers available (although you have to get in there quickly as the cask boxes in particular tend to sell out). You also have to time your delivery well because the cask boxes and the crowlers need to be consumed within 3-5 days from delivery. Having had a look more recently though, it does seem like they’ve started to stock a lot more regular cans as well which will last longer. You need to spend over £20 for free delivery and they deliver on Tuesday’s and Friday’s every week (cut off for Tuesday delivery is midnight on Sunday and deadline for Friday delivery is midnight on Wednesdays). Local delivery only though I’m afraid, so if you are outside Manchester they aren’t delivering to you right now. I particularly likes Beatnikz’s Raspberry IPA collab with Vault City as it’s quite different.
Blackjack – https://www.blackjack-beers.com/shopbeer
Blackjack are also doing direct local delivery and have also been selling a lot of cask beers, mainly their own, but also some from other breweries too. They’ve recently started adding kegs and cans too. You have to order by 6pm on the day before they are due to deliver to your area (you can check the areas they cover and the days on their website). I’ve only very recently made an order from Blackjack – not through lack of trying but I’ve found I’ve just been too slow to act before most stuff sells out. It seems to have calmed down a bit now so I managed to put in an order of four IPAs and their new ‘pub ale’. The delivery was very quick.
Cloudwater – https://shop.cloudwaterbrew.co/
Cloudwater already had a webshop set up before the coronavirus pandemic hit and we have ordered from them before, but what’s been so great about their online offering during lockdown is that they’ve been stocking loads of beers from other Manchester breweries and beyond that can be ordered for delivery too. They have mainly been doing this to help out other breweries who were unable to sell their own beer directly to customers via their own online store – Manchester breweries included on their webshop include Squawk and Runaway. They’ve also been stocking beer from Boundary Brewing Cooperative from Belfast, who due to Northern Ireland’s alcohol licensing laws were unable to sell their beer to customers direct (I believe this has been changed now and Boundary have been able to set up their own webshop. It’s been great that Cloudwater have been able to use their popularity and influence to help out other breweries in this time of need. Cloudwater have also been running various events to help keep things interesting (e.g. Manchester curry club supporting a local street food trader and a collaboration live event with the Craft Beer Channel). They’ve also been communicating really well with their customers during this time, via regular newsletters about events they are running, new releases and updating on the welfare of their staff and general check ins about how people are doing. The delivery service itself is excellent too – they’ve been running a Manchester local delivery service where they deliver to different postcodes on certain days of the week, as well as their standard UPS delivery which is very quick.
Thirst Class Ale – https://thirstclassale.co.uk/collections/all
We’ve had two boxes delivered from Thirst Class (based in Reddish, Stockport) during lockdown as they are the closet brewery to where we live and make some really nice session beers. One of my faves is the Reddish Rye and I also really like the Sorachi Ace ale they make. They’ve had loads of great ales available to purchase from their webshop during lockdown, including the conveniently named “Don’t Panic” which felt very relatable, especially towards the beginning of lockdown. They offer free local delivery if you spend over £25 and have more recently been adding lots of other local and not-so-local breweries to their webshop. We ordered quite a few Torrside beers from them which was great – like Cloudwater, Thirst Class have also been helping out other breweries who don’t have a webshop or the means to deliver.
Track – https://trackbrewing.co/collections/beer
Another Manchester favourite, Track, have been offering a great delivery service and beer selection via their webshop which included exciting new releases (which sell out really quick by the way so I recommend signing up to their newsletter and then acting fast!) as well as classics such as sonoma, which during lockdown has been offered as a cask box, keg and can subscription service. I have ordered a couple of the cask boxes during lockdown and these have not only been great value for money at £12.50 each but also satisfied my craving for cask which I have really missed since pubs have been closed. I have also now ordered a sonoma keg, which is yet to be consumed, but I’m sure it will be equally satisfying. Track also included a postcard in the last order we received with them, with a great design from one of their beers and a thank you message, which I felt was a nice touch. Breweries have really had to adapt quickly to the new state of play during lockdown and I think they are very grateful for how customers have continued to support them (and we too are grateful to still be able to access high quality beer delivered to our doors!).