Runaway Brewery, ESB
A modern take on a quintessentially British beer by Manchester's Runaway Brewery.
Mark Welsby started Runaway Brewery with an old friend of his. Both had a healthy interest in beer, although neither of them had ever brewed before. But they were growing tired of a working life in front of computers, working in industries and for organisations that they felt little affinity with.
When the Runaway Brewery launched in 2014 from an unassuming railway arch in Manchester’s, now fashionable, Northern Quarter it was a significant moment for Mark. Time to do something different. To run away from an old life? Maybe, but also to put something back into the UK’s beer culture. Specifically in the North West.
We featured a beer by Mark pretty soon after they started brewing commercially (the American Brown Ale) and caught up again with him a couple of years later (the Summer Saison). When we caught up earlier this year to talk about their ESB it was great to see that the brewery was growing but not just in capacity. There were new faces, an expanded taproom and a real social vibe.
At the time of our conversation, the ESB that some of you are drinking now was in the mash tun. Whilst Jack and new boy Ollie were getting busy with the malts in this week’s beer I got chance to ask Mark about why he chose such an iconic British style. It turns out if was because of a cocktail.
Spitalfield’s based restaurant and cocktail bar Hawksmoor were opening a place in Manchester and wanted a local beer to make their famous Shaky Pete’s Ginger Brew. Traditionally this would be made using Beefeater Gin and another London classic, Fuller’s London Pride.
Challenging the assumption that only London Pride or its replica could be used Mark set to in devising a beer that could make this boozy shandy sing. In doing so he decided to riff off another quintessential Fuller’s classic, the ESB.
The roots of the ESB date back to 1971 when London brewery, Fuller’s made one of their seasonal beers a permanent addition and named it Extra Special Bitter. Stronger and darker than its brothers and sisters, Fuller’s ESB was there to showcase the best of English hops and malts. A job that it has been doing now for over 40 years. Unsurprisingly this heritage style British beer has been copied but, unlike its IPA counterpart it hasn’t become ridiculously fashionable or reinvented by American Craft Beer. So there’s always a good nod towards the original.
And oh boy this one really hits the mark (no pun intended). There’s a mix of old and new in this take on a traditional Extra Special Bitter. Belgian malts bring those characteristic dried fruit, caramel and toffee sweet flavours forward only to be balanced with the introduction of some new world hops. This beer is big but balanced, new and yet traditional. It’s just lovely.
You can catch up on the rest of our, err, catch-up with Mark here:
It is always great to see people like Mark doing well and whilst world domination still isn’t on the cards we’re already looking forward to revisiting Runaway. Check them out on their website, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter feed for news about their taproom and one of their many events this summer.
Shaky Pete’s Ginger Brew?
“Created at Hawksmoor Spitalfields by ‘Shaky’ Pete Jeary, this turbo-shandy for the discerning drinker now crops up on the lists across the land (the sincerest form of flattery?). Somewhere between homemade ginger beer and shandy, with an added gin kick. An incredibly refreshing pick-me-up.”
35ml Gin (Beefeater is traditional but you should feel free to experiment)
50ml Ginger syrup
50ml Lemon juice (fresh stuff not, you know… Jif!)
100ml Runaway ESB
Put your Tom cruise style cocktail shaking skills to the test with the gin, syrup lemon juice and half a glass of ice. Strain into a suitably classy beer glass and top up with ESB. Oh yes.