Alphabet Brewing, Flat White
Starting a brewery in Manchester in 2014, and still being around to tell the tale, is no mean feat. Stalwarts such as Marble Beers and newcomers like Runaway, Track, Shindigger, Chorlton and Cloudwater (to name just a few) meant competition was (and still is) fierce, regardless of how friendly and collaborative the breweries in this neck of the woods are.
Difficult? Yes. Impossible? No. Alphabet Brewing was founded in October of that year by Joe, Alex and Dan, with head brewer Tom completing the quartet. Although it was their first time opening and running a brewery together, all had history within the industry as the brains behind the popular Kosmonaut bar in Manchester’s Northern Quarter. The success of the bar was evidence of the team’s knowledge of beer and how to sell it, acting as a catalyst for a leap into brewing.
After six months of honing recipes, Alphabet Brewing launched, going toe to toe with the aforementioned breweries and doing it in style. Their aim was simple; to create “innovative, great tasting beers using modern styles as well as reinterpretations of old ones.” This approach to brewing and the combination of great tasting beers and some wacky artwork allowed Alphabet to stand out from the crowd and quickly assert themselves as ones to watch.
The original brew house was bought from Buxton Brewery in the Peak District. It was used to create Alphabet’s first beer; Space Invader, a pink grapefruit and tarragon saison. This was soon followed by favourites like “Kerb Kicker” and “A to the K” an oatmeal pale that now makes up part of Alphabet’s core range. The success of these beers and the many more that followed, has allowed Alphabet to expand their brewing capacity. Now operating a 250 hectolitre kit (the equivalent of 50,000 Pints) at the brewery and taproom, still nestled on their original site behind Manchester Piccadilly Station. More recently Alphabet have opened a second taproom, located in Chorlton, serving beer fresh out of the brewery along with a number of guest beers.
Tonight’s Beer, Flat White, is a White Breakfast Stout. We’re expecting not many of you will have had a beer like this before. Pouring pale, but tasting roasted and dark, it takes a while to get your head around it. Tom, head brewer at the time, was inspired by Founders Brewery’s “Kentucky Breakfast Stout” and created a white interpretation of the style using cold brew coffee locally sourced from Ancoats Coffee Roasters, a speciality coffee roaster based in Manchester. Interestingly, Flat White uses the same recipe as Alphabet’s own “Crate Digger”, an Imperial Coffee Stout, but without any of the dark malts. All of the roasted flavours come from the coffee alone, with oats and lactose (both of which are breakfast staples) providing a smooth, rich body and mouthfeel.
Flat White confuses the senses like few other beers we’ve ever tried, holding true to Alphabets mission of creating truly innovative beers.
With the continuous production of top quality beers, plans in the pipeline for a third taproom and even more expansion to the brewery, we can expect to be seeing Alphabet and their beers for a very long time, no matter how competitive the Manchester beer scene gets.