Category Archives: Features

Grillstock Goes North: Manchester


Ribs and brisket from Flamin' Amatuers

Ribs and brisket from Flamin’ Amatuers


What do you expect from a festival called Grillstock? Well, BBQ, music and drinks and on that front it massively delivered. But there was unexpected delights too… ice cream, including barbeque flavour (do you get the theme yet!?), sweet cakes and tarts, boozy smoothies and wine. So there really was something for everyone and there was lots of families there together for the earlier part of the day.


Manchester is embracing the street food ethos as Guerrilla Eats continues to grow in popularity and this was a fantastic outlet for those constantly looking for their next foodie fix.




Given that this festival takes place every year in Bristol, Manchester showed great enthusiasm for the cause and the word on the street, which was clear to see anyway, was that the event was a huge success and is already looking likely to take place again next summer! Nobody told them that the weather wasn’t always 20 degrees and sunny but sssshhhh.


Grillstock made its way to Manchester last weekend and it was a messy, meaty and musical mouthful for all involved. Albert Square was treated to a delectable mix of smokey barbequed meat, beers, cakes and music and boy did it go down well.


Crackerjack won the ‘King of the Q’ competition and those lucky enough to taste some of their food, I got to taste Andy Annat’s brisket and ribs and they were great. The brisket could have done with an added 30 minutes on the heat but the sticky glaze it was coated with and the presentation was notably better than the other contenders.

Review: 3 Twenty One Manchester


Last week we were invited to try out Manchester’s latest smokehouse and grill offering, 3 Twenty One. Actually, we were originally invited on the previous Saturday night but couldn’t make it so had to wait an extra five days of seeing juicy steaks and crisp chips on Twitter before eventually getting in on the act.

Anyway, we got there on a rainy Thursday evening and the place wasn’t too busy but it did show the diversity of the venue as whilst couples were enjoying the dining experience a group of ladies were having cocktails made for them at the bar before ordering up a round of burgers. Nice.

We were greeted warmly and promptly by the staff who were fantastic and looked after us all evening – as well as the chefs who are keen to come out from behind their pass and interact with the customers. Some might find this a little odd but it all felt really relaxed and I enjoyed it.

To start with I ordered the prawns and Chris had the Manchester Egg which has been a popular choice and my god I can see why. My prawns with smoked garlic butter were delicious but after I tasted the perfectly runny egg boiled coated in black pudding I was gutted I hadn’t gone for that option! And don’t even get my started on the candied maple bacon – simply delicious; a sweet and salty slice of heaven!

Prawns and a Manchester Egg

Prawns and a Manchester Egg

On to the hard stuff and I opted for the Sirloin Steak with chimichurri sauce, I’ve never had chimichurri sauce with steak before and it was lovely, not too rich like sometimes blue cheese or peppercorn sauce can be but light and zingy with my perfectly cooked steak.


Chris went for the lamb with garlic butter, he didn’t get asked how he wanted his lamb cooked but I did overhear the chef say “if they don’t state otherwise it gets cooked pink”, which suited us just fine and he wolfed it down, making the bold statement that it was possibly the best lamb he’s ever had. High praise indeed.


Lamb Chop

One positive thing about the five day Twitter-stalking wait was that we got a steer on what was good, well, the feedback was that pretty much everything was good but we had to narrow down some of the more popular choices, one of which was the onion rings. Similarly with the chips, they were crispy, crunchy, tasty, seasoned perfectly and dusted with smoked paprika. There was salt and pepper on the table but I didn’t touch it.

We were drinking the house wine and the Spanish house red is very drinkable and went really well with the meat and the house white was fresh and light on the palate to begin with. I think the house wines are a good measure of standards and these were pleasant and complimented the big juicy meat on offer really well.

In the interest of balance we managed to put away dessert too, come on, I had to bring you a full report. I had the Oreo Mud Pie with white chocolate ice cream and Chris the apple pie with vanilla sauce. The mud pie was obviously massively rich, indulgent and borderline sickening but I wolfed the lot and bloody well enjoyed it too! Not much of an ice-cream person myself but the white chocolate Cheshire farm ice-cream was seriously to die for and had lovely little morsels of white chocolate through it.


Oreo Mud Pie with White Choc Ice Cream and Apple Pie with Vanilla Sauce

On the other hand, the apple pie didn’t do it for Chris, he complained that there was too much cinnamon (not possible, I said) and that the pastry was slightly undercooked (I thought it was ok), and it was cold but, he didn’t mind that. My main issue with this dessert is that it had raisins/sultanas in, which is fine, but it didn’t state this on the menu. Now, for someone like me, who HATES dried fruit, this is a sin and I would be disappointed if I’d ordered it.

The service was great all evening and the staff were lovely, attentive and knowledgeable about most of the dishes (I think I threw the front of house though when I asked her exactly what was in the chimichurri sauce!) but the chef was on hand to recall every single ingredient. Being above the Deansgate Pub it’s not the easiest to spot, I’m thinking in terms of visitors coming out of the Hilton and looking for someplace to eat, so word needs to spread. I’ll certainly be heading back soon to try out some more of the menu and I suggest you do too.

3twentyone, 321 Deansgate, Manchester, M3 4LQ Phone: 0161 839 5215

Manchester’s Street Food Revolution has Begun

Last week’s street food celebration was the birth of a new food revolution for Manchester and, similarly, the new year will continuing to see the Guerrilla Eats gang pioneering in true guerrilla style – popping up in basements, backyards, skyscrapers and secret gardens to bring great food to us all!

Why? To create a buzz around great food served by great people for realistic prices. For me, usually, grabbing a bite to eat from a street vendor tends to be the last port of call; I’m sure many have experience the pre-football match burger which mainly tastes like it’s made of 100% nuclear waste and AIDS. Well, fear not – the times they are a-changing.

London has seen an array of celebrated gourmet street vendors pop up but this hasn’t happened thus far in Manchester.

Mal O’Connor, of Fire and Salt BBQ, said: “We want street food to be accessible to everyone – no one wants to be paying 6 or 7 quid upwards for street food; but with the usual market fees, travel costs etc., street traders have no choice but to charge that much to start covering costs. Working as a collective helps bring our costs down and means no on takes money from the set up – it allows us to keep the quality of our food high and our prices down.”


Pork ready to be pulled. Mmm... yeah!

Pork ready to be pulled. Mmm… yeah

Guerrilla Eats’ ideology is that street food doesn’t have to be something we all force down in situations of desperation. Street food is a massive part of the culture in many places around the world such as the Americas, East Asia and Africa so has it taken so long to catch on in the UK?

Last weekend saw the best of Manchester’s street food vendors – showcasing and saluting their passion for the using best ingredients, the most creative recipes and the diverse range of cuisines they offer; from BBQ pulled pork to spicy chaat to comforting ice-cream – all served up with a delightful dollop of exciting entertainment to ensure street food is celebrated in the style it deserves.

Fire and Salt BBQ served us up some unbelievable soft and juicy pulled pork which is cooked for hours at 90 degrees to achieve a melt-in-the-mouth texture. They also have their “accidental signature dish” of mac and cheese made with gruyere, cheddar and emmenthal; comfort food at its ultimate best!


Fire and Salt's Mac & Cheese

Fire and Salt’s Mac & Cheese

Dirty Dogs Hot Dogs had their chilli dog classic to warm the cockles which went down a treat for those waiting in the Manchester rain. The lads are trying to find a veggie-dog option which doesn’t make them gag, and they are keen for any input and ideas on what would make meat-eaters and veggies alike happy. Answers on a postcard please!


Sean offers up some chilli dogs. Nice.

Sean offers up some chilli dogs. Nice

Sean Robinson, dogger-supremo, said: “It’s fun, relaxed, inclusive food that makes people happy – there’s not a starched napkin or stiff upper lip in sight!”

Ginger's :)

Ginger’s 🙂

Amongst my personal highlights were the Whisky Marmalade ice-cream from Gingers Comfort Emporium which was served in a handy basket you can eat with a little warm brioche on the side – absolutely delicious and although the added cold was slightly odd, it kind of worked in warming you up in a weird way!

Whiskey Marmalade ice cream with toasted brioche

Whiskey Marmalade ice cream with toasted brioche

Another of my favourites and probably overall highlight was sampling the food from Las Paelleras. As soon as we walked over to their space we could see a lovely big pan of the crispiest potatoes which they drenched in tomato sauce and aioli upon ordering; divine!

WOW - yummy!

WOW – yummy!

They also provided me with the best bread I’ve tasted outside of the continent with their artisan baguettes from Flour, Water, Salt in Macclesfield. Seriously soft on the inside but deliciously light and crunchy on the outside it’s the perfect host for chorizo, rocket and aioli sauce. I think I know decent Spanish food, and this was good! Got the thumbs up from my chorizo-loving partner as well so that’s a real good sign.

Tonight – the Dirty Dogs will be serving up their Christmas-themed dogs, amongst others, at the peerless Port Street Beer House so if you’re hungry for some festive dogs and fantastic beers, you know where to go. I’ll do my best to keep you updated on the next time these lovely lot will be serving their grub in the centre of Manchester but for more info get chatting to @NorthWestNosh – she’ll sort you out.

Spirit Tasting with Drinks Enthusiast

So, you want to hear about the newest, coolest and tastiest spirits around? Well, you’ve come to the right place.

What follows are some brief tasting notes and cocktail suggestions passed on to myself from the ever-knowledgeable Drinks Enthusiast, Dave Marsland fresh from Fusion bar at the Manchester 235 Casino.

New Kids on the Block

First up was Snow Queen Vodka, which is made from organic wheat from the mountains of Kazakhstan.  The five-time filtered premium vodka is a competition winner and has shot to the top of the vodka world in recent years.

With a strong but subtle flavour, it’s great for cocktails but due to the long filtration period also makes a fine, smooth tipple all by itself, boasting a dry and creamy texture with a subtle finish.

You can buy Snow Queen here or in Manchester’s Harvey Nicholls or Selfridges, it is also readily available in the best cocktail bars in Manchester. Follow Snow Queen Vodka on Twitter.

Dave’s cocktail of choice was the Snow Queen Godfather:

Glass – Highball

Ingredients –
50ml Snow Queen
25ml Amaretto
15ml Grenadine
Dash of soda water
2 wedges of lime

Method – Shake all ingredients together and pour into a highball glass over ice. Add a dash of soda and garnish with limes.

Dave shaking things up Snow Queen style

Italy’s very first vodka was next as we sampled the elegant Roberto Cavalli vodka dubbed ‘fashion on the rocks’. You may have heard of the Cavalli brand before; Roberto, a fashion designer from Florence is famed for creating the sand-blast effect on jeans. One to remember for future pub quizzes…

The vodka itself has a lighter texture than the Snow Queen but, perhaps paradoxically, is more robust and intense on the tongue. It definitely gets your attention from the first sip.

It has been distilled four times in a column still (for two weeks each time) ensuring only the finest and highest quality alcohol makes it to the bottle.

You can buy Cavalli Vodka here or in Selfridges and Harvey Nicholls. Follow Roberto Cavalli on Twitter.

The cocktail for this was the sweet and sharp Cavalli Tiger:

Glass – Martini

Ingredients –
50ml Roberto Cavalli
30ml passion fruit pulp
20ml pineapple juice
5ml Grenadine
5ml Cointreau

Method – Shake all ingredients over ice and strain into chilled Martini glass. Garnish with half passion fruit.

A couple of Cavalli Tigers! Rawr!

Next up we were treated to not one, but TWO gins from G’Vine. These gins originate from the France and given that both varieties are made with the exact same ingredients, they taste completely different.

The ingredients are just found in differing quantities in each of the gins yet, both provide a luxurious floral finish. The Floraison is, no surprise, the more floral and ‘delicate’ variety and the Nouasion has more traditional gin flavour, a juniper kick complimented by a wonderful nutmeg and cardamom hit.

Due to the Floraison’s wonderful aromatic citrus, coriander and ginger notes, I would definitely recommend this to folks who are unsure whether they like gin or not. After this, they will.

You can purchase both bottles here and I believe they also stock them in Socio Rehab. Follow G’Vine on Twitter.

The cocktail of choice was made with the Nouasion bottle and is a G’Vine Basil Smash:

Glass – Rocks

Ingredients –
60ml G’Vine Nouaison
Half a lemon, cut in triangles
25ml sugar syrup
Handful of basil

Method – Muddle the lemon triangles with the basil. Add the rest of the ingredients and shake. Double-strain into a crushed ice-filled rocks glass. Garnish with basil leaf.

G’Vine gin

Next on the list of delights was the elusively named June Liqueur which is a speciality grape liquor produced by the lovely G’Vine folk. It’s made using three different types of French grapes; Ugi, Chardonnay and Merlot.

It has an extremely sweet and earthy flavour with strong hints of lavender which gives it a whole host of potential for mixing or simply sipping over ice on those summer’s afternoons (which now seem to be a distance memory for us in the UK).

Not to pick a favourite or show any biased but I really suggest that you try this stuff. It’s not like anything I’d had before and generally not being a fan of sweet drinks myself, I think this one has the ability to surprise a lot of people who may misjudge it at first.

You can buy June Liqueur online here but it has yet to be seen in any bars in Manchester so let’s get spreading the word and bring June to our streets all year round. Follow June Liqueur on Twitter.

My favourite cocktail of the night, Dave’s take on the classic, The Floral Martini:

Glass – Martini

Ingredients –
15ml June
45ml G’Vine Flouraison
15ml Dry Vermouth
3 dashes Orange Bitters

Method – Stir all ingredients with ice and then strain into chilled Martini glass

June Liqueur: A real treat that comes recommended

Last up, was THREE tequilas… by this time we were fairly well-oiled so three tequilas induced a deep breath from those around the table. Excellia Tequila boasts 100% Algave tequila aged in Grand Cru casks, each bottle has been aged a year longer than the last.

So, aged for one year is the Blanco which is clear, at two years we have the Reposado which has a light tint and gold Añejo (Spanish for ‘aged’) has been aged for three years.

The Blanco is not as light as its clear look would have you believe, instead it’s spicey notes and black pepper flavours warm the palate straight away. The Reposado actually sits as a more mellow drink with floral notes and probably makes for one of the best ‘sipping’ tequilas I’ve ever tasted, with rum-like qualities in that respect.

Following from this the Añejo provides a cleaner, sweeter taste with hints of raisin which lasts on the tongue. Follow Excellia Tequila on Twitter.

Excellia Tequila is brand spanking new and will be available here from September 27.

Final cocktail of the evening was the Rude Cosmopolitan:

Rude Cosmopolitan

Glass – Martini

Ingredients –
30ml Excellia
30ml Cointreau
45ml Cranberry juice
15ml fresh lime juice

Method – Shake ingredients with ice. Double strain into a Martini glass. Garnish with orange zest.

Excellia Tequila – Reposado, Añejo and Blanco

Hopefully you are now inspired to order some new drinks and have an experiment with these flavours, if you need anymore information then get in touch with myself or Dave.

I can tell you that by the end of the night we were certainly feeling experimental and below is a very special recipe which will probably never be recreated again but you’re more than welcome attempt to make out the masterpiece (- it was very nice).

Impromptu creation notes

Finally, a big thank you to Mr Marsland for having us for the night. If you want more information and insights into the modern world of drinks check out his website:

We were in the very capable hands of Dave Marsland all evening


With less than three weeks to go, the line-up of beers, food and events has taken shape for the Independent Manchester Beer Convention or Indy Man Beer Con for short.

The full cask brewery list has been announced and will feature the likes of Manchester’s own Marble and Quantum as well as some treats from afar including Brodies Beers from London and Cantillon from Belguim.

There will also be a variety of kegs on show supplying quality ales, hosted by the brewers themselves. So if you’ve ever wondered why Brewdog favour heavy USA-style hopping or where Thornbridge got the inspiration for their Imperial Russian Stout then you can take this chance to ask them! (Full list of casks and kegs at the bottom of this piece)

As well as beer, there will also be plenty of tasty foodie treats on offer, pop-up style. The Great North Pie Company will be there and presenting a special cold cutting pork pie, which has been created especially for the event (meaning it would be rude not to try it!).

Also on offer will be one of the hottest pop-ups around, Dirty Dogs, who will be dishing out hot dogs covered in their unique collection of filthy toppings. And if you fancy something a little more exotic then South Indian restaurant, Sindoor, will be providing top quality food which packs a punch.

There is also the five-course beer and food paired meal with beers selected by Port Street Beer House and food by the fantastic Aumbry (a real treat!) – Limited tickets remain so get in there quick!

Other events include a special ‘Meet The Brewer’ session will be taking place with with Kjetil Jikiun (Nogne 0), as well as tasting events from Summer Wine and Red Willow.

Also, a talk on craft beer, entitled ‘What the HELL is craft beer?’ will be held and feature some craft-beer aficionados such as James Watt, one half of the Brewdog brainwave, and Zak Avery, the beer boy and former UK Beer Writer of the Year.

The famous ‘Ping Pong Club’ will be taking over of the rooms and bringing their ping ponging equipment you will be able to have a few games of ping pong as well as live music by Former Bullies.

As ever with these events, there will be a variety of impromptu little tastings at keg stalls, as the brewers will no doubt be looking to please customers and encourage them to make the most of their tastings.

Tickets are priced at £6 for the IMBC lite session (12pm – 4.30pm), £9 for the IMBC later session (5.30pm – 11.30pm) or £45 for the IMBC Max session (5.30pm – 11.30pm) which includes a meal with Aumbry paired with beers from Port Street Beer House. Tickets are available online:

Full cask list: Beavertown, Black Jack, Brodies, Burscough, Buxton, Camden, Cantillon, Darkstar, First Chop, Gadds, Hackney, Hardknott, Harviestoun, Hawkshead, Ilkley, Kirkstall, Liverpool Craft, Magic Rock, Mallinsons, Marble, Quantum, Red Willow, Redemption, Sierra Nevada and Tyne Bank.

Full keg list: Brewdog, Thornbridge, Magic Rock, Tempest, Hardknott, Lovibonds, Summer Wine Brewery, Camden Town Brewery, Ilkley Brewery with more beers selected by James Clay and Portable Street Beer House.

Friday 5th  / Saturday 6th October 2012 – Victoria Baths, Manchester –

Rum Trail 3: A Trilogy Which Doesn’t Disappoint!

They say that three’s a crowd, bad things come in threes and don’t even get me started on the Godfather Pt III but on this occasion… everyone was glad that the Rum Trails have continued for a third outing.

The Liquorists’ are basically offering up food and drink heaven: six rums, six cocktails paired with six food combinations, great bars with specially reserved tables (no waiting) washed down with… in-depth rum knowledge!

I felt educated afterwards, even if my notes were slightly hazy towards the end.

We started at Hula, rather than the originally planned Kosmonaut, where we were met with Plantation Rum taster by Bibendum Spirits and then a gorgeous Plantation Three Star cocktail called the Atlantic Boat Club Daiquiri – order this! Served up with grilled pineapple and banana, for 30 minutes, we were in the Caribbean!

Next up in Keko Moku we tried the 12-year-old El Dorado Rum, which was really something special and I’d rank it in top spot for the night. The cocktail was a Sanguine Swizzle which I could easily have for breakfast every day (not sure what that says about me) and was a combination of the rum, orange juice, blood orange juice and grapefruit juice – massively refreshing!

Althought trying to resist the temptation to get a pulled pork roll from Almost Famous was almost impossible… But we managed and then offed to Odd for a drink which originated in Scotland! Well, it was spirit mixed with more alcohol, that’s how we roll up there.

A sip and a sip

Basically, you have a sip of ale and then a sip of rum, it’s a simple concept but it works. More importantly, it’s something different, I’ve never had it before and any night when I try something new is a good night!

So, the rum was Matusalem with a wedge of fresh lime and the ale was Titanic steerage, which was described as a “quaffing” ale or a “session” beer.

Jamaican Wray & Nephew Rum 63% with Sticky toffee pudding and pineapple fritters… and more rum.

The chocolate truffles in Tusk were truly luxurious and another favourite of mine with 63% Wray and Nephew Jamaican Rum which was followed by a lovely ploughmans-esque platter at The Blue Pig with a Brugal Blanco Apple Daiquiri.

Sharing platter and Apple Daiquiri at The Blue Pig

However, I don’t want to give away too much and describe every detail of the tour as the anticipation is great…. heading off to the next bar not knowing what awaits you is part of the fun.

All this and a unique way to experience some of Manchester’s best bars, then on to Liquorists HQ at 22Redbank which is top secret and really awesome space.

Plenty to choose from at Liquorist HQ

After plenty of rum and plenty of fun the Thai curry at the end of the night is a lifesaver! And it works really well with the Pussers Navy Rum cocktail served up in Navy Mugs with umbrellas and mixed with coconut milk and perhaps pineapple? Somebody might need to clear that up for me, but I do remember that it was delicious!

Speaking of cocktails and food pairing, one of the most important combinations of all is the people! Tom, from The Liquorists, is a great host and sets the tone perfectly for the evening. In a group of around 12-15 like-minded easy-going drinks lovers you’re always going to have a great night.

My final tweet of the night (which I don’t remember sending), simply read: “Wow, on the way home from @TheLiquorists #RumTrail3! Made new friends, tried new drinks… What makes a better night?” I think that sums up the night pretty well.

In summary, what bang do you get for your buck:

  • Six taster glasses of specially selected rums, from El Dorado, Wray and Nephew, Plantation, Brugal, Matusalem and Pussers.
  • Six cocktails, made with said rum.
  • Six food pairings to accompany the drinks.
  • A Thai Curry and Satay Chicken Skewer at Liquorist HQ
  • £5 money-off voucher for Selfridges Exchange Square when buying alcohol.

For just £35, that’s amazing – and that’s coming from a tight-fisted Scot!

Times and Dates for Rum Trail 3:

The Rum Trails will run for six weeks on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday evenings and the trails start at 6pm or 7pm at Hula. Finishing time all depends on you but we arrived back at Liquorists HQ around 10pm for the last cocktail (which doesn’t explain why we didn’t get home until around 1.30am but that’s an entirely different story!).

You can buy tickets here: and follow them on Twitter @TheLiquorists. Once you have booked, you’ll get an e-mail with all the exciting secret information to whet the palate before the big night!

Written by Mel.

Doughy Delights @ Bakerie

By Charlotte Dobson

Bread fans will love the Bakerie tasting store – just don’t call it a wine shop.

Picture this: mounds of bread, gallons of delicious wine and a line of punters determinedly queuing for their free tasters.

As one man wryly observes: “It’s like the war. This is an actual breadline.”

But this is no ordinary bread, this is the best bread you’ll get in Manchester courtesy of the Bakerie Tasting Store – the latest trendy delight to pop up in the Hive in the Northern Quarter.

The store’s no-messing strap line, ‘It’s all about the bread’ will not disappoint carb fans with a passion for the doughy-stuff.

We’re at the opening night and over by the ovens, you can watch and chat to the bakers as they kneed their magic into a selection of loaves.

Meanwhile in the corner, people are scrambling over each other to mop up some balsamic vinegar – the organiser’s did not see this frenzy coming.

Another dimension to the Bakerie is their impressive selection of quirky yet high quality wines. Whether you’ve a taste for a full-bodied Malbec or crisp Sauvignon Blanc, or (like me) you haven’t a fig about vino, Bakerie’s tasting sessions are a great place to start.

Bakerie store manager, Dale Meakin, explains: “It’s not a wine shop, it’s a tasting store. For us it’s all about finding great quality wine, no matter where it’s from or how whacky it is. For example, we’ve got a stunning Sauvignon Blanc from India, wine made from grapes grown on Mount Fuji and another from Cyprus.”

This is all new to a wine novice like me, stuck in the “I’ll get what’s on offer” state of mind.

Dale adds: “Because we’re independent, we’ve got a freedom in choosing what wines we have on offer without anyone telling us what we should be selling. It’s all about great quality wine.”

Next we shimmy over to the wine tasting session in ‘the Classroom’ – Bakerie’s bespoke contemporary arty space (it has proper primary school benches, the one’s you dropped on your foot in P.E lessons).

We’re welcomed by Peter Dawson and Dougie Lowe of Origin Wines & Spirits who top up our glasses with their finest.

First up is an Italian rose, Anima Rosa. I’ll be honest, I’m not a big fan of the pink stuff but this is beautiful. Light, dry and crisp – right up my street.

Next is up is a red made with a ‘very rare grape’ – La Crima and for red wine fan Amanda Dubrowski it’s a hit.

“It tastes like you’re drinking from the bowels earth, like frankincense – it’s beautiful.”

As we admire the legs on a Majorcan red, Dougie explains: “This Virat is an example of a more unusual wine and it’s named after a native Majorcan dog.

“The thing is, a lot of people tend to drink a lot of the same – if they like Pinot Grigio, then they will often drink that. But here you have the chance to try lots of unusual wines from places you might not expect.”

With it’s simple but addictive combination wine and bread, it’s clear the Bakerie Tasting Store is a big hit with Mancunians.

For more information go to:


Are you an introvert or an extrovert?

It seems that the majority of people think negatively about the term introvert and what it means.

Many, especially in retail, feel that being extroverted is beneficial in the workplace by giving you confidence and being fully able to show your talents.

Many think of an introvert as being quiet in the corner and difficult to get along with and almost talking about it as being closer to a kind of Asperser’s syndrome, which it is not.

Ask whether these three statements ring true or false with you:

‘I enjoy solitude.’

‘People describe me as soft spoken or mellow.’

‘I tend to think before I speak.’

If you answered most of those as true then you’re probably an introvert. If most are false then you are probably an extrovert and if you answered them evenly then you’re probably an ambivert.

What the terms measure is how you respond to stimulation. Extroverts need more stimulation, such as larger groups and louder places to feel alive to their fullest.

Whereas introverts do not need as much stimulation and would maybe prefer to be with family because they can socialise in a more easy-going environment.

However, it seems that being an introvert, as I mentioned earlier, is seen as a negative trait and even from a very young age we are, in society, encouraged to be more extroverted.

As soon as a child goes to nursery, and all the way through their school and university education, they are expected to communicate, play and socialise in large groups.

It permeates through every aspect of society and we are constantly tuned to be extroverted because it is seen as the only way to be successful.

However, neither is ‘right’ and studies have shown that the best businesses work with a team which is a mix of introverts and extroverts.

But nowadays society and business is lopsided towards the extrovert and author, Susan Cain, says: “What we have had, in our financial culture, is one that favours a very risk-taking extroverted style of behaving.

“It’s a style of thinking first and acting later and extroverts seem to be really great at seizing the day but the flipside to that is that they don’t see warning signals as easily and they take greater risks.”

Possibly an explanation of the financial crisis is that too many extroverts as at the top and taking unnecessary risks in the banking sector.

It is shown that extroverts also get into more car accidents than introverts because introverts tend to be more cautious and spot the warning signs quicker.

I think I’m probably an ambivert but I guess it’s difficult to tell when you’re judging yourself as you’ll probably always pick what you feel is the ideal rather than the truth.

Famous introverts include JK Rowling, Barack Obama and Steve Wozniak, so you don’t have to try to be extroverted to get along with people or get ahead in life, just be yourself!

What do you think you are and what experiences have you had in business that ties in with any of these topics?

United States of Ale: A beginner’s guide to American beer in Manchester

The definition of American Beer on Urban Dictionary reads ‘What the rest of the world knows as water’. Well, that was one of the definitions, I couldn’t publish the first one but I do recommend you take a moment to go and read it.

However, a quick spot of research will prove otherwise and there is a large selection of good-quality American beers on offer in the UK and I’m aiming to give you a quick beginners guide.

It seems that it is the usual suspects such as Budweiser, Coors Light and Miller which are all inoffensive and, quite frankly, very bland which are giving the rest a bad name.

These aforementioned lagers are clearly not all that the USA has to offer and I was sent on a tasting mission where my palate was treated to an array of IPA’s, Stouts, Porters, Oaked ale and a Barley wine style ale from states such as Maryland, New York, California and Colarado.

Most people who take a passing interest in beers will have come across Sierra Nevada, Brooklyn and Sam Adams beers in the UK which are having an impact in the UK.

Anna Beam, who works at the Port Street Beer House, is originally from Baltimore and knows agreat deal about beer, which makes her the perfect person to help me on my quest!

When I asked her to talk me through the American beers for sale in Port Street, I realised my request was ridiculous when she simply replied, ‘How much time do you have?’ and pointed to a full fridge full of bottles.

She then informed me that they have around 100 consisting of bottled beers and guests which come and go on draft.

Anna also said that they used to have more American bottles but they’ve had to make an effort to cut back to promote more British beers, proving that beers from the US can stand up to their British rivals.

“I think beers like Sam Adams and Sierra Nevada are changing people’s opinions on American beers in this country so far,” she said.

She recommended Odell Brewing Co.’s IPA, which is sold in Port Street for £5.50, quite expensive for a bottle of beer but it is 7% and absolutely delicious. Using the traditional IPA recipe shipped from England to India in the 1700s, they’ve stamped a taste of America on it by adding extra hops and creating a much bolder flavour.

Anna even told me that there are now breweries in the US brewing Belgian-style Lambic beers as well, so they really are getting enthusiastic about beers from all over the world.

This isn’t really surprising after talking to Chris Nelson and Merideth Canham-Nelson, a husband and wife partnership, originally from the states, who travel the world tasting beers.

Merideth told me that her favourite beer is German-style and she loves the Bavarian culture. However, Chris said that if California was a country it’d be the best country in the world for beers.

He said: “Because of Bud, Miller and Coors, I think there are misconceptions of what American beer is. Just like the uninformed here in the States think that beer in England is warm and flat. All countries have their crap lagers but don’t want the perceptions of their brewingcommunity to base upon them.”

Merideth agreed and said that America has something for every taste, which is not surprising given its vastness.

It is not too unusual to find a bar serving a hundred or more different kinds of beer in the US, both bottled and draft, though most will have perhaps a dozen or three, with a half dozen on tap.

While agreeing that it’s great that the US is exporting beers, the couple suggested that for the best experience you have to go over there and try the beer straight from the source, which ties in with Chris’ overall beer philosophy; drink local.

It’s always been said that countries never export their best stuff, for example, Australian’s apparently don’t like Fosters and Spanish folk reckon San Miguel is overly gassy.

As for comparing British beers to American beers, Merideth says comparison is futile.

“One of the special things about beer travel is that you get to experience beer within its own context. The British beer tradition is distinctly their own and needs to be understood that way.

“American craft beer has developed its own identity, which, if I have to define it, would generally be toward bolder, hoppier, in your face versions of traditional beer styles,” she said.

Microbreweries, some of which have grown to be moderately large and/or purchased by one of the major breweries, make every kind of beer in much smaller quantities with traditional methods.

Most microbrews are distributed regionally and bartenders will know the local brands. Some brew pubs make their own beer in-house, and generally only serve the house brand, much like in the UK.

So, there we have it. Drink local, try new things and don’t judge a book (country) by its overly exported cover (beer).

Here’s a small list of beers I’d suggest to start with:

Samuel Adams Boston Lager (Widely available)

Odell Brewing Co. IPA (Available at Port Street Beer House)

Drake’s Aroma Coma IPA (Chris’ favourite beer)

Scrimshaw Pils (Merideth’s favourite beer)

Oaked Arrogant Bastard Ale (Available at Port Street Beer House)

Big thanks to Anna Beam and Ewan Summers of Port Street Beer House who took the time to recommend beers to me. And to Chris and Merideth, otherwise known to the Twitter world as @thebeergeek and @girlbeergeek

BORN IN THE USA: Just some bottles available in Manchester