Sunday, 22 February 2009

Local brew

I recently ran a poll on which of Greater Manchester’s independent family brewers readers of the blog thought brewed the best beer. This has now closed, after receiving a gratifying 35 votes, and the results were:

Holts: 6 (17%)
Hydes: 4 (11%)
Lees: 2 (5%)
Robinson’s: 9 (25%)
I don’t think much of any of them: 5 (14%)
I’ve never been to Manchester: 7 (20%)
I don’t drink beer: 2 (5%)

Obviously there are a number of visitors who either aren’t local or who read this blog more for the “political” content than the beer.

Greater Manchester is fortunate in still having four independent brewers with substantial tied estates – it is doubtful if any other comparable area has such a concentration and diversity of independent brewery owned pubs*. They have to walk a tightrope between catering for customers who are mostly just regular drinkers and not beer enthusiasts as such, but on the other hand producing beers that are sufficiently distinctive that they are not dismissed by those who are beer enthusiasts. To my mind, all four do a pretty good job of this, although I must confess that I find Hydes’ regular brews, while by no means poor beers, a little on the ordinary side. And that is despite the fact that it must be a toss-up between Hydes Original Bitter and Robinson’s Unicorn for the beer I’ve consumed most of in my entire drinking career. It’s perhaps surprising Lees got so few votes as theirs is one of the most distinctive ordinary bitters in the country.

* going back thirty years, this was certainly true of Nottingham, Oxfordshire and Dorset, but sadly no longer


  1. "Greater Manchester is fortunate in still having four independent brewers with substantial tied estates"

    Bloody hell! If Robinsons turgid ditchwater is the best of them the others must be undrinkable. What's "fortunate" about having four of them to choose from?

  2. Yes, but is distictive the same as "good?" Lees is a very acquired taste and will nevr top any popularity polls. On the reverse side, although I know what you mean about Hydesm it could be argued that the clean tasting nature of their beers appeals to a wider audience.

  3. Robinsons is unfairly put down. I love a session ok their weakish Unicorn on Southport's excellent Mason's Arms

  4. At 4.2% ABV, Unicorn is actually a bit stronger than most other "ordinary bitters".

  5. But still weak,surely? I don't consider 4.2% to be considered actually strong and I don't drink less of Unicorn than I would of a weaker beer.


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