It was a cold spring evening in March when some of the members of Brewers Group in Manchester (@brewersgroup) descended upon one of Manchester’s newest microbreweries. We met at Piccadilly train station at 7pm and headed east from the back of the station down Fairfield Street, dangerously crossing the Mancunian Way and finally arriving at our destination – Privateer Beers which is ironically located on Temperance Street!
The brewery itself is tucked quite nicely under a railway arch – we pulled back the shutters and were greeted by owner Matt Jervis standing proudly behind his homemade bar sporting two handpulls and a stack of pint glasses. Despite the freezing weather outside the brewery was surprisingly warm, as was the welcome extended by Matt and some others who had been invited along too and had already arrived.
After a few moments breaking the ice, Matt proceeded to pull pints of the first beer of the night. Dainty Blonde is, as you may expect from the name, a pale beer that comes in at 4.2% and has a green pump clip. I’ve had it before and liked it but this seemed even better than I remembered – I think there’s something psychological about drinking beer at the source!
While we quaffed our first pint a few of us were shown around the brewing kit by Matt who put the brewery together himself and is rightly proud of it. An ingenious platform made from concrete blocks raises the usual suspects of hot liquor tank, mash tun, boiler and two fermenters off the ground. It still amazes me that the only real difference between a commercial setup and my own homebrewing equipment is the volume of beer it can brew!
Next up was the second beer of the night. After the first round Matt was understandably a bit bored of pulling pints so insisted we pull our own which I was really excited by as despite years of drinking cask ale I’ve never actually pulled a pint myself! It turned out I was surprisingly good at it which was a curse as people kept asking me to serve them. Think I’ll stick to the right side of the bar from now on 🙂
The second beer was exciting as it was the premiere of Privateer’s latest beer – Red Duke – which shares its name with a potato variety, although this wasn’t why Matt chose the name! Red Duke is a 4.8% Red Ale, although as Matt pointed out himself it isn’t very red – happy with how the first run of the beer tasted he didn’t feel inclined to change the grain bill and therefore the taste for the sake of changing the colour. The Red Duke was even better than the Dainty Blonde and is a beer I’ll definitely buy next time I see it stocked on a bar.
Matt explained that Privateer will only ever brew beers lower than 5% as he wants to concentrate on producing quality session beers. He also mentioned the reason behind his choice of bold colours for his pump clips – he hopes that people will be able to order his beers by colour, presumably when they’ve lost the ability to focus on the words! Shortly after starting up Matt realised that running the brewery was too much work for one man so he has a brewer who mans the brewery while he’s out on the road selling the beer and promoting the Privateer brand. We then got to look around the malt and hop store and sniff some Willamette hops (hops smell really good) – again, the same vacuum packed foil bags I use at home – only bigger!
As everyone was now nicely lubricated conversation flowed freely and I put a face to a couple of twitter names I was familiar with. All in all it was a great night with some great beers and great people – which is about all you can ask for really. A big thanks to @brewersgroup for arranging and Matt (@Privateerbeers) for his hospitality – a man who clearly knows how to organise a pissup in a brewery!