It doesn’t take an expert mixologist to tell you that something special has been brewing in the city over the past few months, but now, thanks to a new study, our suspicions have  been confirmed. Manchester is officially the cask beer capital of the country.

The Manchester Beer Audit 2017 found a massive 411 different cask ales on sale in venues throughout the Manchester City Council area, with nearest rival Sheffield only managing 385 beers according to its last survey.

Beaten by some distance were Nottingham (334), York (281), Norwich (254), Derby (213), and Leeds (211).

The survey also confirmed that Manchester leads the way in terms of kegged ‘craft’ beers, with 234 different beers on sale throughout the city – an increase in variety that has been sparked by the recent boom in craft brewing.

The craft beer revolution has taken the city by storm, with more than 80 independent breweries now operating across Greater Manchester, accounting for 38 per cent of all cask beers on sale and 36 per cent of craft keg beers.

It's official: Manchester is the cask beer capital of Britain I Love Manchester
Pic Krzysztof Kaplon

Brewers such as Shindigger, Alphabet Brewing and Seven Bro7hers have all been major contributors to this success, while another well known local brewery, Cloudwater, has been flying the flag for the city internationally having picked up ten awards at the RateBeer ceremony.

“The figures confirm what Mancunians already know – this is one of the best beer cities in Britain and possibly the best place in the world to enjoy great cask beer,” said Connor Murphy, organiser of Manchester Beer Week.

“Manchester has a healthy respect for cask and not only is there a huge variety available but the quality of cask ale in this city is hard to beat. The growth of craft keg beer is also heartening and raises hope that our independent brewing scene can continue to thrive and grow.

But venues could still do more to support the independent Mancunian brewing scene. Although variety remains important and it is great to try beers from across the world, the fact that less than 40 per cent of all available cask and craft keg beers are from Greater Manchester shows there is still room for improvement.

The Manchester Beer Audit 2017 was organised by the Greater Manchester Branches of CAMRA (The Campaign For Real Ale) in association with Manchester Beer Week and saw 311 pubs and bars surveyed by more than 100 volunteers on one day in May.

It found 824 handpumps and 1,957 keg fonts on bars across the city, with 72 per cent of all pubs and bars selling cask ale.

Guinness is the most common beer in the city, appearing in 50 per cent of all venues, while Sharp’s Doom Bar and Joseph Holt Bitter are the most common cask beers, found in 31 and 29 venues respectively.

However, Robinson’s is the most prominent cask brewery, featuring in 36 venues, while Manchester’s own Shindigger topped the craft keg charts, featuring on the bar in 23 venues.

CAMRA Regional director Graham Donning said: “Our volunteer members took little persuading to comb the city’s pubs and bars. The audit united branches, and confirmed Manchester as top of the cask league. With so much choice, I’d recommend drinkers use CAMRA’s Whatpub.com site to help find the city’s real ale offerings.”

Around 10,000 people will take part in around 94 events as part of Manchester Beer Week which starts today.

Manchester’s city-wide beer festival runs from June 23 to July 2, 2017. For more information visit mcrbeerweek.co.uk.

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