Brewery News [October 2019]

[extract from minutes of Wigan CAMRA Branch meeting on 16th October 2019]

Billy P’s Stout has been brewed for this final time for this year. Beers are now to be found as far as Preston and Blackpool. Gift packs of bottles are also now available.

Stuart was very active during Wigan Beer Week. He did a collaboration beer with KORE (Hindley) which was available for a limited time, exclusively at KORE, called KORE Blimey – a 4.2% blonde with hoppy flavours of tropical fruit and citrus.

On Friday 20th September, he launched a collaboration beer (Hophurst / John Bull Chophouse) at John Bull Chophouse called Bitter Sweet Symphony, it’s a 6.5% milk stout with sour cherries and vanilla.

On Saturday 21st September, he hosted an open day at the brewery from 12pm until 6pm. A bus was running between Wigan and Hindley to facilitate this.

On Wednesday, 25th September there was a festival preview night for CAMRA members at the Twisted Vine. The Beer, Cider and Music Festival ran until Sunday 29th Sep and the line-up included 14+ cask beers, 6+ keg beers and 6 ciders.

Hophurst also was very successful at the recent SIBA North West Awards, winning the following awards (more than any other brewery)-
Overall Champion (Cask Competition) : Silver – Porteresque (5.5%)
Cask British Dark Beers (4.5 to 6.4%) : Gold – Porteresque (5.5%)
Cask Premium PAs (4.4 to 5.4%) : Gold – APA (5.2%)
Cask Speciality Mid to Dark Beers : Bronze – Salted Caramel Porteresque (5.5%)
Champion Bottle/Can Beers : Silver – Porteresque (5.5%)
Bottle/Can British Dark Beers (4.5 to 6.4%) : Gold – Porteresque (5.5%)
Bottle/Can Speciality Light Beers : Bronze – Mango & Passionfruit Milkshake IPA (4.5%)

Sales have been boosted by the awards and the gold winners go through to national competition.

A new beer has been brewed for the Firkin at Newton-le-Willows – Yellowhammer New England IPA (4.8% abv). A collaborative ale with Windy Arbour Farm Shop is being planned. A sticky toffee milk stout is to be brewed for Christmas along with a different version of Porteresque. The Twisted Vine have a new bar manager, Sean, and are holding a cheese and wine tasting on 7th November.


Paul and Delia Wood, who established Martland Mill Brewery in 2013, have sold it at the end of September. The brewery is now owned by enthusiastic entrepreneur Rob Jolly who aims to continue to brew the existing beer range on the present site from 7th October.

Rob will be assisted by head brewer Luke Blundell who already has a long standing relationship with the brewery, Paul has also agreed to help with the initial setup and brewing.

Having a background in sales Rob is keen to promote and sell the product and has some exciting ideas both for sales and the future direction of the brewery.

Mayflower Brewery have had a successful Summer in their first year since relaunching in late 2018. With more exciting projects in the pipeline it looks to be a promising future for the Wigan-based micro-brewery.

After their previous home in Wigan closed in 2017 the brewery was forced to move all their equipment into storage for a period before finding new premises at the old Police Station in Hindley. Re-launching in December 2018 and starting to sell from the following January Mayflower have gone from strength to strength and have added to their already impressive array of ales.

Old favourites such as Wigan Bier, Douglas Valley, Swinley Gold and Pie P.A. returned to the beer pumps of Wigan and beyond as well as their award-winning Lancashire Stout. But the brewery has not been idle and head brewer Mark Haslam, assisted by old hand Al Branagan, have set about creating a new range to complement existing brews.

American Pie P.A. has been introduced as an American style IPA with a higher ABV at 5.0% using Cascade hops to produce a crisp ale with a citrus finish. And ever conscious of the popularity of citrussy ales among some beer drinkers the team have also created Lemonhead – refreshing light bitter with an unapologetically citrus twist.

To rival Lemonhead as a ‘summer’ ale, Mayflower also produced Equinox at 4.0% which Mark Haslam describes as “A blonde session ale brewed with a mix of Columbus and Cascade hops giving a heady, spring floral scent with a caramel, citrus and very slightly spicy finish”. And most recently, having been inspired by a venture in London, have teamed up with local baker Greenhalgh’s to produce Bread-Winner, a bread-based ale made from leftover sourdough. Described as a “refreshing ale with a distinctive taste all of its own” at 3.7% Bread-Winner is a highly drinkable session ale.

Conscious of the potentially parochial branding, the brewery has also started marketing some of their best-known ales for pubs and bars beyond Wigan where they are increasingly finding a market. Suppers of their newly launched ale Enigma may detect a familiar flavour – which is because it is in fact Wigan Bier marketed for a non-Wigan clientele. The pump clip features Alan Turing.

And another rebranding has seen Mayflower team up with Pride to launch Rainbow (which is in fact Equinox rebadged) and is being sold at Pride Festivals in the north west (most recently in Manchester and Bolton) with a proportion of the sale of each cask going to support the Pride charities.

The Mayflower range is also available in bottles and has been seen at many of the beer festivals this season (and with more still to come) and the Summer has ended on a high for the brewery with a very successful stall at the Bolton Food & Drink Festival over the Bank Holiday weekend selling out their entire stock before the end of the final day.

In an exciting new venture Mayflower Brewery have teamed up with Northern Rail (who own and operate Bolton train station) to open a new bar on platforms 4 & 5 of the station. The development comes as part of a wider project to improve facilities at the station and will see previously underused buildings such as old waiting rooms reopened to the public. Platforms 1 & 2 have had a refreshment outlet for some time now but passengers on platforms 4 & 5 (which serve Preston, Blackpool, Lancaster and beyond as well as passengers returning from Manchester) have hitherto had little chance to wet their whistle. The building Mayflower is leasing is in fact the old Second Class Refreshment Room (as evidenced by the old window signage still extant) and the brewery intend retaining as much of the old décor as possible while giving it a contemporary slant.

The name of the new venture has yet to be decided but the bar will naturally feature Mayflower’s own ales as well as guest ale from other breweries, a range of continental lagers and ciders and a selection of flavoured gins. The bar will also be selling hot snacks and coffees and with the top floors of the building set to be used by Bolton University the team anticipate their launch in time for Christmas 2019.

It’s been a busy summer for the brewery’s pop-up bar at various events in and around Parbold. Beer sales have been strong. Jonny has been innovating with canned beers that he is very pleased with: a 3.8% very hoppy American IPA style beer called Little Belter, and a revised recipe Dirty Bier, which is being sold with all profits to going to a local charity supporting aid in Uganda. He has also been doing more of his beers unfined, making them smoother and more tasty, with positive feedback at the bar. He just needs to find time to brew more beer again now.

The brewery are working on new beer ranges for next year, with 5 or 6 new beers planned as well as the return of some old favourites. Beers are being distributed further afield with the help of the new owner’s connections. Clementine will be back for Christmas and the Brewery Bar will be open on ad-hoc dates in the coming months. Brewery tours are now also taking place again. Prospect was unable to enter the SIBA competition this year due to the change of ownership taking place at the time.

Beers should be on sale this week so it will now be possible to nominate a BLO. The brewery is using unusual pump-clips in the form of sewn-on patches. We need to check if the beers out now are brewed in Standish or if they are coming from the parent company in Somerset.

Business at the brewery continues to thrive. Sales and production volumes are holding up well. Beer swaps are continuing to help take Wigan Brewhouse beer further afield.

The Foresters Arms in Shevington Moor have adopted California as their house real ale. They are currently selling 2-3 barrels per week – it has been reported that Wainwright drinkers have now moved over the California as a preference. The California ale has been renamed to recognise it as the house real ale and is now called “Foresters Gold”. Wigan Brewhouse have produced a bespoke pump clip for the Foresters Arms only.

A new beer, “Ekuanot”, will be launched in October as a monthly special. It is a 4% pale ale made with Ekuanot hops and will appeal to drinkers who enjoy a pale hoppy beer.

The design of the brewery’s pump clips is still being reviewed with a view to placing a greater emphasis on the brand name.

A special real ale was brewed for Wigan Beer Week. The beer was called Back to Back. It was brewed in collaboration with the Wigan Home Brewers Group who meet monthly at Wigan Central. Members of the group who visited the brewery really enjoyed the time spent there and made a valuable contribution to the product. The beer completely sold out on the day it was released and was sold during Wigan Beer Week in most of the outlets which had an involvement with the event. It is hoped that the input from the brewery will support the Home Brewers Group’s aims to brew different beers and offer expert support. Feedback on the ale was extremely positive.

All bar staff at the Crooke Hall Inn are now wearing Wigan Brewhouse polo shirts as part of their uniform, this initiative has been well received by staff.
Wigan Brewhouse is continuing to explore the canning of their beers.

We have been busy building a new mini kit at the Brewery, to give Wily Fox an opportunity to do a range of test brews. We’ve had quite a lot of fun trying out different recipes and enjoyed using the mini kit to brew different beer styles.

Really pleased to get a Silver Award at the recent SIBA regional competition, the award was for Hot House Zinger, a 4.5 rhubarb and ginger ale.

Very happy with how our new beer Argonaut has been received, it has quickly become a favourite with some of our outlets. Argonaut is a 4.2%, a rich malty copper beer packed with a trove of Australian and American hops, one to brew again!

We have decided to bring back a seasonal special beer, Ruby Fool 4.2%. Brewed using a blend of Amarillo and Jester hops, to give a floral/tropical fruit nose, followed by a grapefruit and orange finish, looking forward to a sample once it’s ready…will be ready for sale from the 25th October.

Business and sales are going well.