I went to the Smithfield Market Tavern last night for the launch of four historic beers from the Manchester area, recreated for Manchester Beer Week by local microbreweries Beer Nouveau, Blackjack, Squawk and Tickety Brew. Beer historian Ron Pattinson, who blogs at Shut Up About Barclay Perkins, also spoke knowledgeably and entertainingly about the beers we were privileged to get to drink.
The wooden pin of Beer Nouveau's Lees 1903 XXX on the bar ran out before I got to it, but I drank the other three, two of them from the brewing records of J.W. Lees in Middleton and one from the long gone Heginbothams in Stalybridge.
I was especially keen to try Blackjack's Lees 1951 "C" Ale, a type of strong ale brewed in the Manchester area in the twentieth century, mostly it seems as a bottled beer, whose name no one appears to know the origin of. A dryish, malt-accented beer which is amber in colour, as Ron said in his talk, it's in the same family as the Burton ales brewed elsewhere in Britain. I also had the two stouts, Squawk's Lees 1952 Stout and Tickety Brew's Heginbothams Invalid Stout, which some people reckoned had a lactose taste, although I couldn't particularly pick one up myself.
Hearteningly, the Smithfield was packed for the event, and hopefully other brewers, including the bigger ones in the Manchester area, will be inspired to delve into the archives and produce historic beers of their own.