As part of our regular Meet The Brewer Sessions, we catch up with the creators of some of our favourite beers.
This week, we find out more about Manchester Union Brewery - whose Union Lager feature in our Manchester Craft Beer Boxes.
We spoke to co-founder Will on pushing the boundaries on what lager can be, new releases, and beer-garden anticipation...
Who are you?
I’m Will, I co-founded the brewery with Jamie, Ian and Simon. It’s mostly Jamie, Ian and I that run it, I look after sales, Jamie runs the marketing and Ian, the brewing.
Tell us about Manchester Union Brewery.
We’re based on Northwestern street, 2 doors down from Wander Beyond and 3 doors down from Alphabet brewery. A Facebook memory came up recently on my phone from a trip to Prague in 2016 when we went to try to secure a brewhouse manufacturer. For a number of reasons that didn’t work out but that was near the start of a 3 ½ year journey to get up and running, finally doing so at the start of 2019 after commissioning the brewery in November 2018. It took so long because of the fairly unique way we brew lager, we couldn’t use an off the shelf (so to speak) brewery solution, Ian needed a totally bespoke system.
How have you found lockdown?
It’s been a DRAAAAAAGGG! I think like most people, I actually quite enjoyed aspects of lockdown 1 but the last few months have been such a blag and I’m just fed up with the whole situation. I CAN NOT WAIT to be sat in a beer garden on the 12th April, if it’s chucking it down, I’m still there and I’m just looking forward to chatting to folks and seeing friends in hospitality with huge smiles back on their faces doing what they do best. The first lockdown also saw us run the Crowdfunder which got our lager into cans for the first time, that has kind of transformed huge parts of the business as we couldn’t sell to home drinkers before that. Not only that but we really only had one product when we entered the first lockdown, our core lager. By the time all hospitality is back open we’ll have 4 core products and a 5th on the way, we’ve added a black lager which we all love and the pale ale is released this week, that’s a pale ale using lager ingredients (except the ale yeast obvs) and after that comes our Alt beer which I’m dead excited for. The Alt beer is heavily influenced by a special we did in 2019 with Lervig brewery but taking influences from the classic style from Dusseldorf. That might be our first release in bigger cans.
Can you tell us a bit more about the Lager?
The best thing about our lager (IMO) is undoubtedly the mouthfeel which comes from the decoction mash process. I understand some people’s desire to drink really light lagers but that’s just not for me. I want to feel like I’m getting something from the experience so I’m looking for a bold body and enough malt sweetness to balance a hoppy characterful beer. Our lager is so bold it can trounce many IPA’s I’ve tried recently for flavour. I talk about malt sweetness but it’s more about perceived sweetness, a lager should be dry and refreshing, the bitterness helps with that but the decoction mash process is so important, it’s the best way to add body and mouthfeel whilst keeping the beer dry. When we were planning and setting up the brewery, everyone said we didn’t need to do it, literally everyone including other breweries. Now some of those breweries are also dabbling with decoction mash brewing which puts a huge smile on my face. After that, we give the beer LOADS of time, if we were an ale brewery we could turn a beer out in 2-3 weeks but for us this beer takes 6 whole weeks to produce, 7 weeks for cans.
Any plans for the future?
I’ve already touched on the new beers coming out but what I’m really looking forward to is further exploring new beer styles within our mission of “brewing the finest lager in Manchester, famous the world over”. We’re going to expand on our range of lager or lagered ales and we want to try to push boundaries on what lager can be and even break some rules along the way if we want to. I’m really looking forward to the next few years, so watch this space.
You can keep up to date with Manchester Union Brewery by following them online and on social media: