The Big Hop - Part 1 - Frodsham Brewery

With us having mainly covered breweries local to us so far on the blog, we decided a few months back that a good plan may be to identify places a little further afield and combine several visits into bumper editions done over a few days.

So, although it's been a little while in the planning (let me tell you, it's logistically a lot of fun trying to arrange suitable days and times between breweries, along with ride times and stopovers!), here's our first 'Big Hop'.

This one has us meeting the folk of Frodsham Brewery, Big Hand Brewing, Axiom Brewing and Cwrw Ial Brewery, and entailed a 150 mile round trip through Cheshire and into the Welsh borders.

First up is Frodsham Brewery, a beautifully located micro nestled up on the hill just on the outskirts of Frodsham, run by Barrie Davidson and his wife Hazel. The 10bbl kit is used to produce some 17 different beers, all of which were available from the brewery shop - what a shame we were cycling!

After our chat, Barrie showed us round the brewery, before insisting we had a third of a pint of 'Danny', a lovely golden ale brewed to raise funds for the restoration of a steam tug boat named 'Daniel Adamson' - more information on that here

We'll definitely be heading back - it's well worth a visit if you are in the area! 

As ever, it's over to the brewer himself now to give you the lowdown on Frodsham Brewery, so enough of our yakking...

 

GPX file - which covers the route to Frodsham through to Wrexham is availble here.

Soundtrack - Anitek 'Strange Sensations' www.soundcloud.com/anitek

Next up - Big Hand Brewing, Wrexham

 

Blackedge Brewery

Well, Episode 13. Unlucky for some.

It had to run out sometime. Up until now, on the whole the weather has been pretty good to us for these visits. Not that we mind a bit of rain, but it doesn't make for the best of ride footage and, like we've mentioned before, standing in a brewery in wet gear isn't ideal.

It definitely doesn't make for the best ride footage when you discover that the camera hasn't been working all the way there - so even if we did want to show you the rainy journey, complete with all the weather on the lens, we couldn't. Ah well.

On a more positive note, it was a pleasure to be welcomed in by Shaun on our arrival to Blackedge Brewery in Horwich. You can pretty much guarantee if we've arranged to meet a brewer on a Saturday, they are going to be busy brewing or trying to crack on with something that didn't get done during the week. So for Shaun, (who was holding down his day job as well as keeping the brewery ticking over whilst brewery partner Wayne took a well earned holiday) to take the time for us to quiz him with our questions was very generous of him indeed.

 

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Blackedge have a great little set up tucked away in a unit off Chorley New Road. Shaun informed us that they are moving to larger premises just across the yard soon to enable them to make more of the Tottering Temple (watch the video for more about that) and give them some breathing space for the 5bbl kit they run.

As usual, we'll let the brewer do the talking now - over to Shaun to enlighten you on all things Blackedge...

 

The ride was a direct, soggy route to Horwich along the A6. Here's the GPX file, should you be feeling masochistic enough to want to take a ride that way.

Music "Opaque" by Anitek (www.soundcloud.com/anitek)

Cheshire Brewhouse

It's been a while coming, this visit to Cheshire Brewhouse. We've been in conversation with Shane since the end of last year about getting over to visit him at the brewery, but with him potentially moving premises (now expanding into the unit next door instead) and a few false starts in trying to combine the visit to him with other breweries in that direction, it took until the end of last month to actually pin down a date.

As it was we gauged the weather well and the sun shone on us all the way from our Glossop starting point right through to the brewery on the outskirts of Congleton. It was quite a ride – a 100k round trip – but Shane made it very worthwhile, entertaining, educating and enlightening us for a good 3 hours. 

He's rightly very proud of his kit - an impressive 5bbl set up, which is shortly to double in size to 10bbl. As seems to be the case with many of the brewers we've met, Shane has an engineering background and it shows with his resourcefulness in the unique build and operation of his brewing set up - it's definitely not an off the peg bit of kit. Although squeezed in to the one unit at the moment, once the brewery utilises the adjacent space we get the feeling there'll be no stopping him!

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If you're not familiar with Cheshire Brewhouse's beers (err, what planet have you been living on?), Shane produces some of the most balanced and easy drinking brews out there. Particular favourites are Cheshire Gap, a very tasty and floral 3.7% pale ale and Engine Vein, a beautiful copper coloured best bitter coming in at 4.2%. Such is the popularity of these two from his core range that he brews them on a weekly basis. Listen out for information on what other beery delights Shane creates at the end of our video with him.

So, after a quick change into his iconic CB red and black darts shirt, we settled into the upstairs bar area in the brewery over a pint of Cheshire Gap and fired up the camera and put our interview questions to him...

Ride GPX is available here. We went from Chisworth near Glossop through to Congleton via Marple, Poynton, Pott Shrigley, Macclesfield and Gawsworth.

Music "Work Sounds" by Anitek (www.soundcloud.com/anitek)

Fool Hardy Ales

This edition sees us visit our first brew pub - The Hope Inn in Stockport, where Fool Hardy Ales create their brews.

The iconic looking premises started out their life in around 1840 as The Hope & Anchor - a brewhouse coupled with a 6 barrel brewery. Looking up at the fascia of the building, gives away it's subsequent role between the 1890's to early 1960's as The Hope Inn - part of the well known Hulme based Hardy's Crown Brewery estate. Bonus points if you know of any other former Hardy's Crown Brewery pubs still standing in Manchester (there's actually five others)! 

Coming full circle (and with a naming nod to it's history), it's now back to being a pub and brewhouse - the home of Fool Hardy Ales run by Martin Wood and his partner Samantha Halfyard. We ventured along on a very grim and rainy Thursday afternoon last month to meet and quiz Martin with our questions!

Not only was the weather terrible enough to nearly put us off cycling (hey, we're not fair weather cyclists, but standing in wet kit in someone's brewery isn't our idea of a good time), but the sight of 11 cask ales on arrival really made us wish we had left the bikes behind for this visit. But then it wouldn't truly be 'Hop on the Bike' would it? The things we do for you, eh?

We'll just have to venture back soon without the bikes!

Over to Martin now to give you an insight into Fool Hardy Ales and his experiences in brewing.

No ride GPX or video this time round - it was a very short, wet and urban hop from the centre of Manchester for us!