Grub ExtraVEGANza on Saturday was our only ‘planned’ day out this month. With the Sheffield trip planned next month, a couple of us going down to ‘Five go to Beavertown’ the week before and Hop City on the horizon we had all been holding out and was therefore super excited for the weekend.
Of course, not having plans didn’t mean we didn’t do our best to embrace #tryanuary a little- checking out the lovely new Reasons to Be Cheerful Beer Cafe in Burnage, nipping to the Cloudwater tap for some fresh V11, and quickly catching the final hour of the Manchester Beer and Cider Festival. R2BC is a fab little bar, with a decent range of keg and cask and a friendly welcome. Sean and I went in the first few days and can’t wait to go back as a group to see how it develops- really handy for Burnage station and a much needed destination to grab a great beer in the area.
Manchester Beer and Cider Festival was a great last minute decision, catching the last hour on the Saturday. Turning up first, I was happy to see that here was still plenty of beer pouring. I headed straight to the ‘Rest of World’ bar to grab a couple of the more unusual keg beers on offer, I particularly liked the LOC Train hopper- but from the beer list it was obvious though there had been some great stuff available. Can’t say the welcome was so warm for all of us here however, with comments being made about ‘girly glasses’ for ‘delicate little hands.’ This was the last thing we expected to hear with the issue of sexism in beer being highlighted in a post about an awful encounter at the very same event the day before! It did taint the experience for us, which was a shame as otherwise it would have been a great hour of beer.
…BACK TO THE WEEKEND!
First Stop: GRUB ExtraVEGANza
Location: Alphabet Brewery, off Fairfield St, Manchester
We have attended quite few Grub events in Runaway and Sadler’s Yard and it was clear from social media that the ExtraVEGANza event at Alphabet was going to be a big one. This only added to the excitement for us, the events are always excellent and Alphabet is a great venue that has a special place in our hearts from the amazing gigs to Grub’s new home. However, the hype did make us a little nervous as to what was going to sell out and whether we would have space to have a mooch about.
We made the decision to get down there for 1pm and went straight in after a friendly hello from the organisers and Vinnie, the friendliest doorman in Manchester. Although we did have to queue for the food vendors- we employed a ‘queue with a pal, beer and/or food’ policy with most lines so it didn’t feel like a hassle. We also quickly learned the importance of sharing little bits to give us the chance to try as much as possible.
I started with trader Oh Mei Dumpling, which I had tried and loved before- but the Tofu and Kale Jiaozi were new to me. They were absolutely sensational, full of flavour, juicy and great value. The first beer of the day was ‘This Little Piggy Gose To Market’, a subtly smoky gose which offered a sour then savoury kick- it divided the group, but it was certainly an interesting starter!
Sarah kicked off her food with a Masala Dosa from Manjit’s Kitchen, from the food trading (cost me 1 x Oh Mei Dumpling!) I can tell you it was delicious, the ultimate comfort food for the cold weather and luckily for us, something you have to be really hungry for as it is super stodge!
I was definitely having a tofu parcel of joy kind of day, opting to sample the Tofu and Walnut Wontons from Yakumama. I would always go for an Arepa, and if it weren’t for my disdain of plantain I would have opted for that, but I am glad to have tried this little bit of Latin American / Asian fusion. They were an absolute wonder, the case was so crispy and the mango sauce base was unreal. I teamed these with a wonderful half of the Lunes Verde collab with La Quince, a punchy double NZ Pale which really held its own with the flavoursome food.
Sean went with the shortest queue first and ended up with 2 slices of cake from Blawd to start! Teamed with the difficult to Untap Up Up Down Down Left Right Left Right B A Start Rye IPA which also sold out a little later on – I don’t know if he had some insider knowledge or just a fluke as they were the first to sell out and some of us missed out later in the day! He did stop by the Otto-men shortly after, and after a long wait (they loved to talk to everyone, which was great, but slowed down the service significantly) he had a plate of food that would keep him (and several of us!) going all day.
We had a mix of carnivores, veggies, veganuary participants and full time vegans in our group and there was certainly something for everyone. The only thing a couple of us did miss was the obligatory half of Alphabets sensational Flat White, but with the selection that was on offer we were happy to give it miss this week. Importantly, although this was a vegan special, Grub always has so much choice for veggies and vegans week on week – it’s not just a one off, and I’m sure we will be back in the next couple of weeks for more excellent food and beer!
Stop 2: Cloudwater Tap
Location: Picadilly Trading Estate, Ancoats, just past the Parcelforce Depot
It‘s only been a couple of weeks since we were last at the tap, and with the monthly DIPA’s as well as the seasonal releases, there is always something new drawing us in. The bonus for those of us doing Veganuary is that Cloudwater is pretty much a Vegan brewery so most, if not all, choices are available! The recently extended tap hours have also meant we have found it a lot easier to fit in a stop early evening or on a Sunday session to drink fresh! During the quieter spells we find ourselves chatting away with the guys at Cloudwater, who are always so friendly and approachable. It will become clear as we blog on I’m sure that Cloudwater is most definitely one of our favourite breweries, and we are so fortunate to have them so close by.
Upon arrival, we noticed the furniture had been shuffled about to accomodate the new canning line. After each getting a beer (Note to self: Do not get the Christmas cake Stout when you are drinking all day- no matter how delicious. Twice.) and catching up with a beer friend or two, Sean and Adam went to have a quick look at the new canning line with a couple of the staff. They also got a quick walkthrough of what was brewing at the moment, which was great! Following the lovely but lethal treacle-like Christmas Cake Impy Stout a lot of us opted for the Mosaic Vic Secret Session IPA which was light, fresh and super drinkable.
It soon started picking up in the tap, so we decided to free up the table (and blankets!) and wander back towards town via Grub again. We managed to get all the things we missed or couldn’t manage the first time and accompany those who missed out earlier!
Stop 3 : Picadilly Tap
Location: Piccadilly Station Approach
This wasn’t on our schedule but table football, warmth and with the promise of Mad Hatter’s Tonka and Coconut Porter – Toncoco Loco, we decided to make a pit stop. A warm welcome as ever in the tap, with a few missing lines which was disappointing. Toncoco Loco was a bit of a let down, I think partially due to us drawing comparisons to Hawkshead’s Tonka which we love, and it was perhaps a little over carbonated for my liking. We just stopped for the one here with a couple of rounds of table football to get the blood pumping.
Stop 4: The Pilcrow
Location: Sadlers Yard, Near Shudehill/ Victoria
Shaping up to be one of our favourite spots to drink in Manchester, this was always on the cards for our day out. Helpfully labelling all their Vegan beers, and with vegan, veggie and meaty toasties on offer there is always the option for a tasty bar snack when you need a little bit more than Karkli (also available!).
We were keen to head down to the Pilcrow for the Sorefeet – Stone Thrower DIPA launch, a beer style we have been enjoying a lot lately, by a brewery we hadn’t come across yet! All going straight in for the DIPA, we met Max, co-brewer for Sorefeet who chatted to us about the beer, and the trials and tribulations of brewing from his Mum’s garage. A really great guy, who was quite humble about his (great) beers, and has inspired a couple of us to look into the process of brewing.
We love the community crafted Pilcrow, the staff are helpful and friendly, the music is great and it has some amazing beers on offer. It is equally good for a couple of beers on a Sunday afternoon as well as a Saturday night out and it will almost always be on our radar if we are beering in Manchester.
Stop 5: Bundobust
Location: A set of steps between Subway and Max Speilmann, Piccadilly Gardens
FINALLY. I walk past this every day from work to the train station and have been waiting so patiently for the day we go to Bundobust. The location had always surprised me, it’s not the nicest area of town- next to a few chain shops and pubs and like most I would normally just walk right past. When you venture down the steps and open the doors you instantly realise why they went for it, Bundobust have really unlocked the potential of this beautiful cavernous space with beautiful original tiled walls, splashings of artwork from Drew Millward, and a fantastic skylight showcasing the buildings above. You wait to be offered a table, I think due to licensing you have to eat with your beer and that size of space calls for some organisation, and they have still owned the canteen style dining.
The 30 minute wait (to be expected on a Saturday tea time) was not an issue, the atmosphere is great and there is an extensive beer list to choose from whilst waiting. It would rival any other craft beer bar in Manchester, with 16 lines, including 2 for cask and 1 for cider. We couldn’t resist going for the Bombay Dazzler, a fantastic Indian Witbier which was light and the perfect accompaniment for the salty Okra fries. Having moved over from Leeds just a year and a half ago it was great to see quite a few lines dedicated to Yorkshire brewers Northern Monk and Magic Rock, and hope to see more of the harder to get Northern monk on the taps over the next few months. With a couple of us going for a third of the ever so special KBS stout to end, it was an excellent way to close off our great vegan and veggie inspired day, with the Vada Pav and Paneer Kebabs hitting the spot as always and filling our bellies for the train home.
Grub on Saturday anyone?
Posted by: Soo