Craft Beer: Alphabet and Marble putting Manchester in brewing's premier league

Charlie Don’t Surf is an excellent session IPA from Alphabet which goes down an easy as ABC

IN THE early 1990s, Manchester was at the centre of a musical and cultural wave known as Madchester. It was all baggy jeans and bouncing about to the Happy Mondays and the Stone Roses before the brash brothers Gallagher burst on the scene with Oasis.

Today the city's two football teams are top of the Premier League but the Manchester has also risen to be one of the leading lights in the craft beer world in this last few years.

Cloudwater have made themselves synonymous with the double IPA with their series of exceptional takes on the style but there are a number of other Mancunian breweries knocking out some pretty good brews.

Alphabet has been taking an experimental shot at coffee-based beers with their flat white breakfast stout and blueberry muffin coffee pale ale.

But if you want a nice entry level beer to ease you into Alphabet, then Charlie Don't Surf is an excellent session IPA which goes down an easy as ABC. The hops have come from Down Under and there's a zingy bitterness to this beer.

It pours a light amber colour with a fluffy white head and has a crisp and dry finished. The hops give a fresh, citrus flavour, which is well maintained in the can and at 4 per cent, it's easily put away.

Marble is another Manchester brewery making their presence felt. Their imposing pint cans and bold lettering certainly make them stand out. The four letters printed the full length of the can of their pale ale leaves you in no doubt as to what's inside. This is beautifully balanced ale. Nice amber colour, the carbonation is pretty light – which isn't easily achieved in a canned beer – and this lends a lovely smoothness to it.

There's a sweet biscuit malt base with flavours of citrus and stone fruits. It's juicy, but not overly sweet, hoppy but not overly bitter. It comes in at 5.4 per cent, so it's not pushing the strength too much either. It's a beer with quite a moreish quality so if you see it in your local independent off licence, pick up a couple of cans.

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