Two tenants of Manchester railway arches are nominated for awards in the Manchester Food and Drink Festival for their response to the Coronavirus pandemic.
Manchester Union Brewery, North Western Street, is nominated in two categories: ‘Best innovation’ which recognises the most impressive business innovations by food and drink operators during the COVID-19 crisis, and ‘Artisan drinks producer’ which recognises local drinks producers.
At lockdown they had no beer that could go into cans or bottles. Will Evans, brewery owner, said: “We try not to use plastics, so to mirror that we put some beer into 2 litre glass bottles and did a milkman-type service, only with beer, all around Manchester post codes. We ran a crowd funder to get cans and got 150,000 cans printed with our logo. We got the 2nd batch of cans two weeks ago and our sales volume has returned to nearly normal levels.”
During Lockdown, 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 Arch Co, 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.”
The Manchester Food and Drink Festival is now in its 23rd year and a nationally acclaimed event. The 2020 awards were adapted with changes to format and award categories following the COVID-19 pandemic and the huge impact it has had upon the hospitality sector. New categories designed to recognise the industry’s impressive innovations and adaptations since lockdown and beyond were created especially for this unprecedented year.
Will Evans said: “We’re very much a locally focused brewery so to be involved with MFDF is very important to us. We’re excited to be nominated for a couple of their awards. Our lager is made for food, the extra processes we use, ignored by over 99% of breweries in the UK, give the beer more body, more depth and more flavour than normal lager production which helps it work with more foods.”
Also nominated for ‘takeaway coffee experience of the year’ is the Manchester Coffee Company based at 84 Hewitt St. This category recognises quality coffee takeaways during the COVID-19 crisis and is an adaptation of the ‘Coffee Shop of the year’ award, recognising those businesses that were able to stay open via takeaway offerings.
The award winners will then be announced in October at a virtual Awards ceremony.