In the second instalment of our series celebrating the craft breweries of the North of England, Guy Kilty talks to the brewing brain behind the Alphabet Brewing Company.
“The ethos is to make good, very clean, very progressive, forward-thinking craft beer that’s going to take over Manchester.”
Alphabet Brewing Company was set up by the brains behind Kosmonaut Bar in the city’s Northern Quarter and, after six months of honing recipes in a brewery near Piccadilly Station, the team is getting its beers out there.
Tom Evans is head brewer. Over a couple of glasses of Alphabet’s flagship products at the packed-out Port Street Beer House launch shindig, he tells me what makes them different from their myriad of competitors.
“We want everything to be the best without trying to be too overcomplicated. It’s a very competitive market and we want to be at the forefront of the progressive end. We’ve got a strong history of brewing traditional beer in Manchester. Let’s push forward from the traditional and then build on that to go forward to some more interesting and more progressive ways of brewing beer.”
There are three core Alphabet beers and the “easy drinking, southern hemisphere hops, session ale” Kerb Kicker is number one. Next on the list is Crate Digger, a coffee stout. Number three is a seasonal saison, which will change every few months.
“At the moment it’s Space Invader, a pink grapefruit, tarragon and pink peppercorn saison,” Evans says. “We weren’t actually going to be doing this as an idea but it’s been so well received that we just thought ‘let’s go with it’.”
Other beers on offer from Alphabet include Flat White, a pale beer with a great coffee taste. It uses the same recipe as Crate Digger, just without any of the dark malt. “All the colour, all the roastiness that you would get in the beer is from the coffee alone.”
So, how do they taste? Kerb Kicker is a top-notch hoppy session ale that slips down far too easily. The current seasonal saison, Space Invader, is packed with juicy, spicy flavours and Flat White is a delicious assault on the senses. After I’d finished talking to Evans I immediately went to the bar and got myself another.
In the next few months Alphabet plans to open a brew tap at its HQ so punters can sample the company’s beers as close as possible to their source. After that, it’s all about seeing how far it can go.
“The plan now is to concentrate on Manchester but London is somewhere we’re looking at next,” says Evans. “The possibilities are endless. Keg-wise the format will translate everywhere and as long as it’s good you can push it far and wide. We’ll start with Manchester and then the world after that.”
By Guy Kilty