27 Sep Chorlton Chit Chat – An Interview With Mike
We know you love shandy, you know we love shandy, so let’s talk about delicious shandy, friends. Our track record with shandy is a wish list of dream breweries, and thanks to our unique, high quality, fresh fruit-to-bottle process, and our brewing friends’ equally tidy commitment to flavour, we’ve been collaborating the heck out of the shandy scene for ages now. Innit great?
Brilliant brewing and subsequently non-alcoholic and low alcohol delights are the name of our game. We’re proud to be whipping up exclusive, rare magic with select, discerning beer meisters, from our mates Howling Hops in Hackney, to the Beavertown babes up the road, via the pros at Pressure Drop, fantastic Five Points, and let’s not forget our legendary Chorlton Brewing Co chums all the way Up North.
We’ve been chatting with Mike from Chorlton Brewing Co, a consummate sour beer professional and a flavour friend of ours since our first Chorlton Brewing collaboration, created for the Independent Manchester Beer Convention in 2017. If anyone knows about complex, delicious flavour, it’s this guy, read on for the scoop!
SR: Hi Mike! What’s your favourite colour? Joking, joking… none of that nonsense, let’s talking brewing!
Mike: Grey, definitely grey.
SR: Is that down to your love of the Manchester sky? Zing! Couldn’t resist. Anyway, so please tell us, how did you get Chorlton Brew Co started in the beer game? What was the inspiration behind it?
Mike: We started brewing in 2014 but the journey goes back to 2010 when I was doing an informal internship at Kernel Brewery in London and they were just starting to look into using lactobacillus and wild yeasts in their beer. I actually hated sour beer before that but the staff there kept trying me on lambics until it clicked. I’ve been a sour beer lover ever since, so when it was time to open my own brewery it was obvious that was the path I was going to go down.
SR: Our first collaboration together was the Verdello Sour beer and shandy, a lemony little number we jointly created for IMBC 2017, but we want to let folks know where it all began. How did you hear about Square Root, and end up working with us on this citrus treat?
Mike: I need to dig deep into my memory now. I was trawling the streets of Bermondsey a couple of years ago looking for interesting tonic waters as we were toying with making a beer to mix with gin, and I came across bottles of Square Root. That was the first time I tried the delectable sodas you make, and I then think we were set up together by the organisers of IMBC.
SR: We like working with you because we know you talk our fruity language, and you make a very fine beer. What is it about Square Root that makes a difference, which stands out for you, and makes you want to collaborate with us? Don’t be shy, we’re incredibly humble and won’t get big heads at all…
Mike: Don’t tell Ed, but I really like meeting minds with him. I think we understand each other. I think I speak for everyone at Chorlton (all three of us) when I say that we really respect the things you’re doing.
SR: Aw, shucks *blush* – the feeling is mutual, of course. We like a bit of raw rhubarb once in a while, but you guys are committed to tart tipples – what exactly is it about sour beer for you guys?
Mike: Well, it started with just loving sour beer, but when I moved to Manchester from London (via Berlin), I started diligently brewing in a friend’s basement in Chorlton (that’s where the name comes from). I tried to tease out a vague idea that there’s something missing from the world of sour beer. It turned out to be a pretty simple idea but it took a long time to get there; simple approachable sours like those made in Germany but hopped like pale ales and IPAs.
SR: You Chorlton Brew folks like to get about the place! Not least with your brilliant National Tap Takeover. Home is still where the heart is, mind, so tell us how fantastic Manchester is, and why? Which spots do you like to go for a pint or a bite to eat, where everybody, or perhaps nobody, knows your name?
Mike: Bundobust is somewhere we often go out to eat, particularly when we go out as a team (if you can call three a team). They do great food and beer so what else do you need?
SR: Just thinking about Bundobust is making our belly rumble, that place is a hungry dream, agreed! Speaking of delicious: Tangy Verdello Sour, juicy Tarocco Sour, and sweet, rich Lemon Cream Sour – What’s your favourite Square Root collaboration shandy so far?
Mike: Hmm, tough one. Tarocco maybe? Using just the zest from citrus gives a much smoother and more rounded flavour than using the whole thing. It’s not that one is better than the other, just different. Blood oranges have a warmth and almost creamy mouthfeel that transferred perfectly to the beer we made.
All of them were great though and it’s really nice to use ingredients which other businesses consider as waste.
SR: Indyman is right around the corner, got anything cool in the pipeline for the thirsty crowds at Victoria Baths?
Mike: We’re not pouring there this year. We’re really squeezed at the moment and until we get a larger space we’re not taking on any commitments other than brewing. We’ll be sure to be there as punters though.
SR: Looking forward to seeing you there – more chilled in punter mode too! OK, final question. With all the ingredients in the world at your disposal, what fantasy soda flavour of your dreams would you create?
Mike: Durian cream soda? No! A lemonade-type thing made with verjuice.
SR: We’re gonna pretend we didn’t hear that Durian dare just then…Thanks, Mike!
This year we’ll be back at IMBC 2018 with a vengeance, bringing our rehydration station, aka the Soda Bar, and we’ll be collaborating again. We’re creating an IMBC Fringe treat with our saucy doughnut-fancying coffee pals at Siop Shop, just up the road from the festival.
They’ll be selling “Refresh Yourself“, our Salted Lime Coconut sipper, alongside a delicious sausage/veggie muffin, as the Indie Man Beer Cure combo, on offer throughout IMBC as a ‘fringe’ event, to get your head back in the game after/in between the beery fun. If you’re joining IMBC for the Hangover (Sunday) session you’ll be able to grab a bottle and Refresh Yourself to the max at our Victoria Baths stall, while stocks last. Come say hi!