The owner of the Manchester Union Brewery said: “The 16-year-old me always dreamed of having a brewery not a distribution business! I built that business up from scratch over six years. But it meant I couldn’t focus on brewing, so I quit, so I could focus. The brewery doesn’t make any money yet, it is only a year old. I’ve taken no salary and I have had a rough run because of the Coronavirus but everyone is very excited about the potential.”
Manchester Union makes lager differently to other brewers. Will said: “Less than half a per cent brew beer the way we do it. We also pour differently, heightening the aroma, with a 7-minute pour.” The brewery has had excellent reviews for its beers, which sell in the top bars in Manchester and outsell household name brands where they are head-to-head.
But on lockdown when pubs were told to close, Manchester Union had no customers because they supplied beer directly to Manchester bars. Will said: “When pubs were told to close, we had zero revenue. When everything first hit, we thought if we could just hibernate for three months, we would be OK. That was when everyone thought it would last 12 weeks. Then I spoke to someone in the NHS and he said, ‘this isn’t going to go away ‘til 2021’ so that’s when we thought again.”
Immediately, Manchester Union accepted the offer of a rental holiday from landlords The Arch Company. Will said: “That helped massively. There’s no way we would have been able to survive without a rent holiday from The Arch Company, and our brew kit suppliers too. We had zero income and used all our reserves. If it wasn’t for the rent holiday, we literally would not have survived.”
Manchester Union is very focused on its locality. At lockdown they had no beer that could go into cans or bottles. “We try not to use plastics, so to mirror that we put some beer into two-litre glass bottles and ran a milkman-like service, only with beer, all around Manchester post codes. We ran a crowd funder to get cans and had 150,000 cans printed with our logo. We got the second batch of cans this week and our sales volume has returned to nearly normal levels.”
The Manchester Union Brewery is supporting the love your arches campaign because of their experiences during lockdown. Will said: “What lockdown did is make us focus more on our locality. There seems to a bit more of a wave of support than before. We are happy to support the love your local arches campaign and the first national Arch Day – it’s the first weekend that we’ve got a fully booked tap room.”
96D North Weston Street, Manchester