Manchester Union Brewery is Manchester's first and only dedicated craft lager brewery. They created their original 4.8% Manchester Union Lager in 2019, using traditional central European brewing methods but with a Mancunian swagger!
Manchester Union Lager is brewed using decoction mashing. A traditional technique in the Czech Republic for brewing authentic Bohemian Pilsner lager, a proportion of the mash is pumped between tanks and heated up to 100°C. This extra step releases melanoidin due to the Maillard reaction, which is the same reaction that happens when browning meat or toasting bread. It also releases a small amount of tannins.
Rather than a double or triple decoction, typical in Germany and the Czech Republic, at Manchester Union Brewery, they use a single decoction. They then lager the beer (mature on yeast at a cold temperature) for at least four weeks. This essential stage involves flavour-altering biochemical processes responsible for the crisp and clean taste of lager beers.
The result is a full-bodied beer with malt character, a silky mouthfeel and a balanced touch of diacetyl-derived caramel sweetness. The finish is refreshingly dry and bitter from the central European Marynka and Saaz hops.
Manchester Union Brewery has now created two new beers, available for delivery across the UK, that feature some of the characteristics that have made the original Manchester Union Lager so popular. While they originally planned to focus solely on producing good lager, due to tank space and the length needed to brew (three times longer than ale), the ongoing Manchester lockdown has meant that the business now needs to pivot and expand its offering.
After Dusk was created in collaboration with some of the city's top independent music venues, thanks to the brewery's connections to the music scene. After Dusk plans to shine a light on and continue to drive awareness of Manchester's favourite venues during these testing times to stop them being forgotten during the pandemic.
Each can of After Dusk will show iconic images of venues including the Albert Hall, Hidden, Band on the Wall, Matt & Phred's and Mint Lounge, with a QR code that can be scanned on a smartphone to take drinkers to the venue's website. There they will be able to access live streamed events, gig tickets and radio stations whilst the venues are unable to open.
Jamie Scahill, co-founder comments. "As a brewery, we have close connections with the music scene as many of our friends are DJs, play in bands or run club nights. I personally know how hard it's been, as I run my own club night, Funkademia and music festival, Highest Point. After Dusk offers a perfect opportunity to support Manchester's independent music venues during these testing times. If just one more person clicks a link and buys a ticket, then we feel we've helped."
A pre-COVID scene from Hidden nightclub
The second new brew, Pivot, is a take on the classic Manchester Pale Ale, but using central European malt and hops. It's a style that became a staple of the region, thanks in part to the soft water the city enjoys from the Lake District.
A 'pale ale meets lager', the brewers add Pilsner Malt to the bill. This helps to keep it crisp whilst blending aromatic, tangerine-like German hops with citrussy British Chinook, to deliver a full flavoured ale. All the refreshment expected from a lager, jam-packed with the flavour synonymous of a pale ale!
Will Evans co-founder of Manchester Union Brewery said "We've previously made a range of kegged lagers from pilsners to red lagers, black lagers and Oktoberfest lagers, just never in cans. The addition of the pale ale is an unorthodox step for a lager brewery. We always planned to eventually do a wider range of beers. With Manchester being in lockdown virtually continuously since March, we thought it would be a prudent move to pivot into ale earlier than planned - hence the name! We wanted to be able to develop a wider selection of beers for people to enjoy at home over the Christmas period and beyond."
Each new brew is available in cases of 12 cans for £26.58 or 24 cans for £48.67. There are also mixed cases containing the original lager, pale ale and black lager for the same cost. Prices include delivery to mainland UK, expected within 48 hours. To find out more or to place an order, visit the brewery's website shop.