a home for us

During the Covid19 lockdown, I have taken to sampling varied beers from the Manchester Area Craft Breweries.  Below I try to summarise my personal views on each of the beers, with notes that might assist others in making choices, but also as a memory source for myself.


Track - Half Dome

440mL can, 5.3% ABV, 3.50, Hops Galaxy, Citra and Simcoe

Prior to Covid19 ‘lockdown’, this was my benchmark keg when visiting the craft breweries of Manchester. Not too strong, but a solid punch of hops which is to my liking. A beer to savour.


Track - Sonoma

440mL can, 3.8% ABV, 3, Hops Centennial, Citra and Mosaic

This is a very solid hoppy Pale Ale but very sessionable. Not got the hoppy punch of Half Dome, but the hops are still to the front - with the alcohol moderated. Probably Manchester’s go to modern style session ale.


Vocation - Love & Hate

440mL can, 7.2% ABV, 3

With breweries closed and resorting to drinking cans at home, this is a star performer.  A ‘New England IPA, with smacking layers of hazy hops; a drink to savour.  If it wasn’t for the strength, this would probably be my mainline drink.


Vocation - Life & Death

330mL can, 5.3% ABV, 1.13**

This is a sound, hoppy IPA (but muted compared with Love & Hate) but still a rewarding IPA, with a layer of malt and an underlying tartness/bitterness. This however stars on value for money, where Tesco** have been selling two packs of four, 8 x 330mL cans, for 9.


Vocation - Bread & Butter - Dry hopped Pale Ale

440mL can, 3.9% ABV, 2.99, Hops Simcoe, Mosaic BBC

A clear (non hazy) beer, light on the malt and bitterness with a moderate hoppiness. Insufficient character for me, but would be a pleasant drink with a meal where it’s minimal flavour would not impact.


Vocation - Perfect Storm - NE Pale Ale

440mL can, 6.6% ABV, 3.25, Hops



Vocation (Marble Collaboration) - Hop, Skip & Juice

330mL can, 5.7% ABV, 1.37*, Hops Simcoe and Citra

A contender for favourite with Love & Hate. Lots of hoppy, hazy flavour. A bit lighter than Love & Hate. Excellent value in the 4 pack from Tesco* and therefore highly recommended.


Vocation - Strength in Numbers

440mL can, 5.4% ABV, 3.70, Hops Citra, Sabro, El Dorado.

Yet another lovely beer from Vocation.  Hoppy with light bitterness and an intensely milky feel to it..


Vocation - Showcase Citra

440mL can, 6.7% ABV, 3.50, Hops Citra.

A lovely beer, but I felt it was left in the shadows (my taste) by the Simcoe Showcase. Very similar characteristics to the Simcoe, but the Simcoe hops were more prominent and therefore better to my taste. Very happy drinking this, and to be recomended - but I have a distinct preference for the Simcoe Showcase.


Vocation - Showcase Simcoe

440mL can, 6.7% ABV, 3.50, Hops Simcoe

What a delightful beer.  Designed to showcase a single hop, Simcoe, in a NE IPA format. Light malt and bitterness dominated by the floral citrus characteristics of the Simcoe hop. Has a sparkling wine feel, but the light malt and underlying light bitterness ensure you know this is a beer. Highly recommended.


Vocation - Union is Strength

440mL can, 5.5% ABV, 2.70, Hops Citra Cryo, Citra BBC, Mosaic Cryo, Mosaic BBC

What a lovely NE style IPA. Light malt and bitterness with a delightful blend of hops. Recommended (but likely one off and unavailable).


Vocation - Naughty & Nice

440mL can, 5.9% ABV, 2.50,

What a lovely chocolate stout and what a bargain. Just sit down and sip on this desert delight. Highly recommended,


.Vocation - Imperial Kirsch - Barrel aged Stout

440mL can, 11% ABV, 5

This is like a vanilla ice cream with cherry drizzle on it. Lovely smooth drink, but just too sweet for my taste. Could be used as a desert accompaniment, but not for me a regular beer/stout.



Vocation - Total Riwaka - DDH IPA

440mL can, 7% ABV, 3.75, Hops Riwaka, Simcoe, Galaxy

A lovely hazy DDH IPA.


Vocation/Sure Shot - 15 Mile Round Trip DIPA

440mL can, 8% ABV, 3.50, Hops Galaxy, Mosaic BBC, Citra BBC

This DIPA immediately brought back long distant memories of when I first found Cloudwater Brewery, who lead the movement in Manchester for NE IPAs. This is mega hoppy - with solid alcohol kick. A beer I would serve in thirds and savour. Recommended.


Vocation/Gweilo - East & West Pale Ale

440mL can, 5.7% ABV, 3.50, Hops Galaxy, Vic’s Secret

Light mailt and bitterness with a tart hoppy twist. Very happy drinking this as a change from straight fruity hopped beer. Recommended


Vocation/Sure Shot/Amity - Three Flow ESB

440mL can, 7% ABV, 3.50, Citra, Simcoe, East Kent Goldings

Very much based on a traditional British Extra Special Bitter, but with a bit of a hop flourish to it. Dark malt, notable bitterness but with depth and an alcoholic punch. If you are into this traditional style, definitely worth a try.


Gweilo - Sudoku Golden Stout

440mL can, 6% ABV, 3.50

This is a unique beer in my experience. A mild stout flavour coming from a peculiar brown/green liquid with balanced chocolate and coffee flavours coming through.  Happy drinking this but not sure I will rush back.


Gweilo - Hop Kong - NE IPA

440mL can, 4.9% ABV, 3.50

A moderate malt base with limited bitterness and a slightly tart hoppiness. Pleasant to drink but not sufficiently impactful or distinctive to wish to return to.


Gweilo - For Fig Sake - Stout

440mL can, 8% ABV, 3.50

Just as the name states, a pleasant stout base with a hit of fig sweetness. Nice enough to drink, but overall not really to my taste - too sweet and too strong.


Marble - Cross Collar

500mL can, 5.2% ABV, 3.70, Hops Cascade, Chinook, Citra

West Coast IPAs don’t really work for me.  I prefer a standard British bitter like ‘Bitter’ or ‘Metric’ to these. The toffee malt layer and lack of hop breakthrough? Matter of taste - some might enjoy more than I do.


Marble / Young Masters - Pro Aqua Boys Bitter

500mL can, 3.2% ABV, 2.30, Hops ?

Sound malt and bitter base - but that is about it. Tastes to me like a low alcohol beer (I mean much lower than 3.2%). This is not a beer I will choose to return to.


Marble - Bitter

500mL can, 4.2% ABV, 2.55, Hops Comet, Ekuanot, CTZ

This is a Marble classic, styled around the old Boddington’s bitter that us oldies remember from our youth, prior to them being bought out and ruined by Whitbread. A light, bitter, bitter! Particularly to be enjoyed, chilled, on a warm summer day. Recommended light British bitter.


Marble - Metric

500mL can, 3.9% ABV, 2.70, Hops Lemon Drop, Nelson Sauvin, Dr Rudi and Citra

This is a light British Ale but with a bit more of a step forward on the hops.


Marble - Berimbolo

500mL can, 4.5% ABV, 3.35, Hops Enigma, Amarillo, Mosaic

This is a lovely light hoppy, sessionable beer. A competitor with Track Sonoma as a session beer of choice. Recommended.


Marble (Amundsen Collaboration) - Alf

500mL can, 5.4% ABV, 3.70, Hops Mosaic, Enigma and Denali

A hazy oaty beer, but for me the hops just don’t come through compared to others of this type. OK, but can’t see me buying it again.


Marble - North-South

500mL can, 4.2% ABV, 3.50, Hops Lots of Enigma backed by Amarillo,  Azacca & Lemon Drop

Solid underlying bitterness, akin to the original Bodingtons but, as Marble say, this is a ‘hop forward’ beer providing a notable hoppiness; light on the malt. A cross perhaps between original Boddingtons and a light NE IPA. I enjoyed this. Recommended.


Marble - American Pilsner

500mL can, 4.2% ABV, 2.90

Given I don’t really get lager beer, this is another of the type which I can’t really comment on. It is a lager - worth trying at this value for those who are into lagers.


Marble - Stout

500mL can, 5.7% ABV, 2.70, Hops.

This is a sound Stout. Lovely flavour, low on bitterness (less bitter than Guiness). Smooth on the palate.


Marble - Lagonda

500mL can, 5% ABV, 3.30, Hops .

This is like a hoppier version of Metric. Similar moderate bitterness and malt but with a more pronounced flowery hop contribution. Not up to USA standards of hoppiness, but more mid Atlantic. Sound drink.


Marble - Extra Special Marble

500mL can, 5.5% ABV, 2.85, Hops?

This is a classic strong British style ale. Fulsome of Malt and bitterness with a pleasant (British style) hop contribution. Can’t fault it, indeed recommend it if you want this style of beer..


Marble - Rufus - Red Ale

500mL can, 5.1% ABV, 2.95, Hops Simcoe, Amarollio and Ekuanot

Pleasant drinking American style Red Ale with a plummy malt base, moderate bitterness and a hops. Recommended.


Squawk - Toco - Pale

440mL can, 5% ABV, 4

 A solid beer from Squawk. The more prominent malt base and light bitterness hints at a West Coast IPA. Not as malty or bitter as some of that style and much more hop prominent - taking it towards the East Coast. Very happy drinking this.


Squawk - Falco - DIPA

440mL can, 8% ABV, 6.50, Hops Amarillo, Mosaic and Simcoe Cryo.

At 8% this is almost a barley wine. You really feel the alcohol. This is a fine quality beer but not the balance I prefer (too alcohol). Soft malt base with light bitterness and plenty hops (though not in your face despite being a DIPA), but alcohol cuts through and dominates. Happy drinking this fine beer but unlikely to feature in a re-order.


Squawk - Malu - Pale

440mL can, 4% ABV, 3.70, Hops Mosaic and Simcoe.

Lovely beer based on two of my favourite hops.  This beer has a character more impactful than you would anticipate from a 4% session beer.  Light malt and bitterness with a real punch of hops. Really nice to drink, highly recommended, particularly if you want a session beer.


Squawk - Lori - DDH IPA

440mL can, 6.5% ABV, 5.75, Hops Idaho 7,  Amarillo, and Mosaic

Has a more ‘traditional’ English base of malt and bitterness compared with fruity US NE coast ‘modern’ style IPAs. This is combined with a fullsome hoppiness (but not citrus style). All together an enjoyable beer.


Beatnikz Republic - Daydream in Jade - NE IPA

440mL can, 6.7% ABV, 2.20*, Hops Citra, Mosaic and Ekuanot

*This is a ‘Sale’ price - and a bargain. This is a great beer. Moderate malt and distinct bitterness with a bounty of balanced hops.  Has a real character, similar to Squawk styles, just a really good beer for hop lovers.  Highly recommended, and at this price - not to be missed.


Beatnikz Republic - I SMaSH Simcoe - Single Malt & Hop Pale Ale

440mL can, 5% ABV, 3.20, Hops  Simcoe

OK drinking this, but for a single hop Simcoe beer it didn’t give me the pleasure that the Vocation single hop showcase did, A clear beer, with a low level of malt, but lacking the wonderful Simcoe characteristics I was hoping for.


Beatnikz Republic - Surf Etiquette, NE IPA

440mL can, 6.2% ABV, 4.50, Hops Sabro, Citra and Ekuanot

This is like a fruit juice. Indiscernible malt and can’t detect any bitterness - just hops hops hops. A great beer for the hop freaks and for me, one to drink slowly but mixed up with other beers like Daydream in Jade to make an evening of it. Highly recommended.


Beatnikz Republic - Ekuanot Silhouette - NE IPA

440mL can, 6.4% ABV, 4.65, Hops Ekuanot

Hazy beer with a leading tartness like drinking a mild grapefruit juice. Another BR beer which I am happy to drink, but not one I would choose to return to.


Beatnikz Republic - Mosaic Absolute - NE IPA

440mL can, 6% ABV, 4.65, Hops, Mosaic.

Another hoppy, hazy NE IPA style beer. Very pleasant drinking. But a little pricey for me.



Beatnikz Republic - Beach Bum - APA

440mL can, 5% ABV, 3.15, Hops Mosaic & Azacca

Couldn’t get my head round this beer.  Almost lagerish in nature. Very light malt and somewhat bitter, with hops, but no breakthrough from them. Ok drink, but nothing to recommend it, so I won’t be returning.


Northern Monk - Faith

330mL can, 5.4% ABV, 1.13**, Hops Citra, Mosaic and Columbus.

A lovely soft hazy hoppy East Coast style IP, similar to Shindigger Aliya.  The fact that Tesco** are selling this at 2 x 4Pack (8 cans) for 9 takes this to the top of the scoreboard. Pleasant drink at under 2/pint.  What’s not to like.


Northern Monk - New World IPA

330mL can, 6.2% ABV, 1.13**, Hops - Unknown

Standard British IPA drinkers will recognise the basic traits of this beer. Solid deep malt base with accompanying bitterness.  The hoppiness is extended to make this a sound West Coast style IPA (unfined). A good beer, but as noted, West Coast IPAs aren’t my preferred style. Others will, I am sure, find this more enjoyable. Benefits from the Tesco** multi-buy deal.


Shindigger - Aliya

440mL can, 5.2% ABV, 3.50

This was my favourite Shindigger beer. A hoppy, murky flavoursome treat at a moderate strength. Very happy drinking this. However, when I can get Vocation Love and Hate for less money - this wouldn’t be my go to beer.


Earth Station -Bright Spot

500mL can, 3.7% ABV, 2.60, Hops Bitter Gold and Lemondrop.

A very light wheat beer, almost no body, kind of a weak lagerish. OK, but not my style.


Shindigger - IPA

440mL can, 5.4% ABV, 3.50

A more hop prominent West Coast IPA, with that layer of base malt - more mid country heading East Coast.. Happy drinking this, but given my preference for East Coast IPA, not high on my list.


Shindigger - Pale

440mL can, 4.5% ABV, 2.75

A classic West Coast IPA. A bit lighter on the malt than most, and a bit more hoppy than most. For my taste however, the even lighter malt and hoppier nature of their IPA would make that a preference over this Pale.


ShinDigger - Lager

440mL can, 4.6% ABV, 2.50, Hops: Tettnang, Hallertau Mittelfruh

Not being a lager drinker I can’t really differentiate. As a Pilsner lager, it was fine.


Shindigger - Summer

440mL can, 4.8% ABV, 3.25, Hops: Saaz, Citra, Equinox plus fruit extract: Watermelon and pineapple

Not my thing.  Bit like a cocktail with a base lager. Didn’t work for me.


Thornbridge - Jaipur

330mL can, 5.9% ABV, 1.13**, Hops Chinook, Centennial, Ahtanum, Simcoe, Columbus, Cascade

Has a West Coast style to it, but light on the malt and bitterness with a reasonable (but not East Coast) level of hoppiness. Enjoyed this on draft at Wetherspoons - an ok drink benefiting from Tesco** deal.


Thornbridge - Jamestown (NE IPA)

330mL can, 5.9% ABV, 1.13**, Hops Galaxy, Nelson Sauvin, Citra. Mosaic

A great value, easy drinking North East IPA, thanks to the Tesco** multi-buy deal. Classic style. Nice and hoppy, cloudy on a light malt base. Pleasant, but would benefit from a bit more of a hop punch (to suit my taste). Recommended.


Pomona Island - It’s never been like that

440mL can, 5.3% ABV, 3.5, Hops Citra and Mosaic

A hazy brew with a lovely balance of choice hops. Very happy drinking this. Only problem, Vocation and Northern Monk better value. (This is probably my favourite Pomona Island.) Recommended.


Pomona Island - Clarky Cat, DDH Pale

440mL can, 5.5% ABV, 4.05, Hops Cryo Citra, Ekuanot and El Dorado

A really pleasant DDH to be recommended, except on value. Light underlying bitterness with distinctly floral hoppiness in a hazy package.


Pomona Island - Pigs....? In there?

440mL can, 4.5% ABV, 3.60, Hops Cryo Amarillo, Mosaic & Ekuanot

Another fine session level IPA with light hops. A Track Sonoma competitor. Can’t understand why the stronger, hoppier and even better ‘It’s never been like that’ is cheaper?


Pomona Island - Toot

440mL can, 5.6% ABV, 4.05, Hops Cryo Amarillo, Chinook and Mosaic

What’s not to like about this hoppy hazy DDH joy. But why choose this over the cheaper ‘It’s never been like that’?.


Pomona Island - BonbonBonbons DDH

440mL can, 3.3% ABV, 3.40, Hops Cryo Mosaic! Vic Secret! Amarillo!

If you want a pretty hoppy low ABV Table beer, this will be difficult to beat. Drink all day, enjoy, and you could almost (kidding) drive home.


Pomona Island - Lefty Scissors DDH IPA

440mL can, 7.1% ABV, 4.95, Hops Citra Cryo, Vic Secret and Sabra

What a lovely beer. One for a hazy treat (look at the price). Beautiful balance of hazy hops with a light underlying bitterness. This is a beer where the hops benefit from the high ABV content, allowing you to linger on each sip. Not a beer to hurry; savour and enjoy. Recommended.


Pomona Island - Style, Control, Damage & Aggression, IPA

440mL can, 6.5% ABV, 3.40, Hops Cryo Simcoe, Strata, Citra and Mosaic

Another fine hazy hoppy ale from PI. Up to their usual high standards. Just doesn’t stand out - but happilly drink anytime.


Pomona Island - My Toe Hurts Betty, DDH Pale

440mL can, 5.6% ABV, 3.40, Hops Cryo Mosaic, Bru-1 and Amarillo

Another lovely ale from PI, as they pretty well all are. Hazy, with a light hoppiness, easy drinking. Again, not stand out, just a good beer (if that isn’t damning with faint praise?)


Pomona Island - Crowler Pale

440mL can, 4% ABV, 2.80, Hops?

## As I understand it, Growler cans are draft beer placed straight in the can. As a result they have a lower level of carbonisation.  Personally I find these modern hoppy beers benefit from carbonisation, so these appear flat and feel it. Those preferring cask to keg may appreciate it. ## Still, this is a pleasant drink with mild hoppiness and low bitterness. An easy to quaff session ale. Better options elsewhere..


Pomona Island - Crowler Session IPA

440mL can, 4.5% ABV, 3.00, Hops?

See ## comments aside, on Crowler ale. This IPA has a little more character than the Crowler Pale with more bitterness. Another pleasant PI ale, but I prefer other options.


Pomona Island - Crowler APA

440mL can, 5.3% ABV, 3.10, Hops?

See ## comments above on Crowler ale. Can identify the additional ABV and more carbonisation than the other PI Crowlers; best of the PI Crowlers, more substantial with decent grapefruity hops. Happy drinking this - but doesn’t stand out.


Pomona Island - Chihuahua City

440mL can, 5.3% ABV, 3.10, Hops, Cryo Amarillo, Cashmere & Mosaic

Pleasant enough drink. Doesn’t feel like a 5.3% ABV; feels like a session ale. Not a lot of character and doesn’t stand up to the Vocation/Marble collaboration, Hop Juice at the same ABV. Much better choices from PI and elsewhere.




Magic Rock - Cannonball

440mL can, 7.4% ABV, 2.50, Hops?

A really bitter IPA with a solid malt base. Claims to be ‘loaded with hops’ - but does not present them in the citrus fashion I prefer.  More like a solid, high strength normal (non-USA) IPA. A good beer, which others will like more than I do.


North Brewing Co - Metronomic, West Coast IPA

440mL can, 6.5% ABV, ?, Hops Citra, Chinook & Columbus

Interesting beer. From my other comments you would expect me to not enjoy a West Coast IPA.  This is different; more middle America. Light malt and more bitterness compared with East Coast beers, but with more hoppiness than WC IPAs. Has a similarity to Vocation Life & Death. Enjoyed.


North Brewing Co - Lost Cosmonauts DDH IPA

440mL can, 6.0% ABV, 3.00**, Hops  Mosaic & Ekaunot

A really good IPA from North Brewing. Interesting contrast to some other NE IPAs such as a favourite of mine, Vocation Love and Hate. Whilst provides a good level of hoppiness, it is underpinned by a classic base, but unobtrusive level of malt and a firm level of bitterness. Some similarity to Vocation Life & Death. Kind of a classic (UK) IPA hopped up. Interesting.** Tesco price.


Beer Nouveau - Satanic Mills

500mL bottle, 6% ABV, 4.50

A stout with a lot of character. Main initial hit is the base caramel from the malt; then lots of other strands of dark flavour I can’t put my finger on. Has an evident hint of that earthiness which all BN beers seem to have, but quite hidden in this. Enjoyed.


Beer Nouveau - Not Bass

500mL bottle, 5% ABV, 4.50

This is meant to be a recreation of the old Bass bitter recipe. Now I can’t recollect drinking much, if any, Bass in the days, but this is a pleasant easy drinking English ale of old. That characteristic earthiness is there, but not prominent. Happy drinking this, but won’t rush back.


Beer Nouveau - Body Snatcher

500mL bottle, 4.2% ABV, 4.50

This is meant to be a recreation of the old Boddington’s bitter recipe. Sadly, not close, to my memory.  Marble Bitter, much closer (or JW Lees MPA). Light brown malty liquour rather than the light golden of Boddingtons. Earthy character, not unpleasant, but not to my taste.



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