Manchester Double – Two from Holt’s

Joseph Holt. A brewery that – being entrenched in Yorkshire – you generally don’t see a lot of on the bars of the White Rose County. In fact, now I think about it, I can’t think of a time when I’ve ever had a Holt’s beer on cask in Yorkshire. That’s some achievement, when you consider the age we live in.

I’m not moaning, actually. I find it slightly comforting, in a rose-tinted kind of way, that locality like this exists in Beer. It means that if I wanted to explore Holt’s properly, I’d have to jump on that train and get over to their pubs  in Manchester. Trips like that are the heart of beer-hunting, of making journeys to experience beer – no matter how un-exotic the brand or style – from whence it came. You go to the beer; not the other way round.

Bottles are a different story. Holt’s bottles are widely available, but that doesn’t stop me reaching for them when I see them. Maple Moon is a great beer, and I drink it a lot – slightly nutty, very sweet, and super-drinkable. A beer that doesn’t get enough credit, for sure.

Manchester Brown Ale (3.8%abv) does exactly what is says on the tin. A brown ale in every sense, it’s smooth (really smooth, actually), with a body of Brown Sugar and creamy, sweet malt, and a  dry finish that makes you want more. Yes, it’s not a flavour-explosion, but that’s not the point. Uncomplicated, but entirely pleasant. The Lowry on the label is a lovely touch, too.

Thunderholt (5%abv) is somewhat of a surprise after the Brown. Raisin-red with a rocky tan head, there’s loads of Simnel spice and bready, yeasty notes on the nose. It tastes slightly stronger than it actually is, and is all the better for it. It’s a big beer, with a dry, piney finish that comes out of nowhere.  Fans of red-hopped ales (SummerWine’s Rouge-Hop, Cain’s Raisin and Thornbridge’s Colorado Red spring to mind) could do a lot worse than check this out.

Out of interest, where is the best place in Manchester to go to drink Holt’s wares on cask? And – more crucially, perhaps – is it worth it? I love the bottled range, but do they ever appear on cask?


About leighgoodstuff

Blog: I'm Leigh Linley; born and bred in Leeds, and writing about it since 2005. TGS exists solely to highlight the great beers that are out there; brewed with passion by Craft Brewers around the World. I also edit the 'Tavern Tales' section of Culture Vulture, which looks at Pubs and Pub Life rather than the beer in the glass.

Posted on 08/12/2011, in Beer and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 7 Comments.

  1. “Trips like that are the heart of beer-hunting, of making journeys to experience beer – no matter how un-exotic the brand or style – from whence it came. You go to the beer; not the other way round.”

    Yes, I’ve often argued that it adds something to beer appreciation when you have to go to a beer’s home ground to sample it – at least in a pub. So often nowadays you can go in a multi-beer pub anywhere in the country and find much the same range.

    There are plenty of Holt’s pubs in and around Manchester – Tandleman or Tyson would be better placed than me to point you to the best. Probably the nearest thing to “home ground” is Eccles, where they have a cluster of tied houses including architectural gems such as the Grapes, Lamb and Royal Oak,

    The bottled beers don’t tend to appear in cask form. While Holts have produced seasonal beers, more recently they seem to have preferred to have rather mundane beers from other breweries (e.g. Old Speckled Hen) as guests. This year they have introduced a new beer called IPA, which is lighter and hoppier than the standard Bitter, but seems to suffer from low turnover. Breweries everywhere have always struggled to sell an alternative beer of similar strength to their default bitter.

    • Curmudgeon – good to see you agree. I’m a big fan of context, in both food and beer – and this is no exception. I guess even the fact that Holt’s remain so steadfastly Mancunian is somwehat of a draw for me, personally. You don’t get a lot like it. The only other one I can think of of the size is Cain’s – another lancastrian brewer whose wares don’t seem to travel that far at all.

  2. It’s an interesting one… we like to be able to try the beers of the moment (on cask/keg) regardless of the brewery location, but I agree with you that there is something right about having to go to the area in question and try the beer from whence it came.
    I’ll be on the look out for Thunderholt.

  3. Have a quick visit to the Ape and Apple in John Dalton St. Right in the centre and yes, the beers are worth drinking, the mild particularly.

  4. Not a brewery that I see vey often in our neck of the woods which is a shame by the sounds of things. I too will be keeping a watchful eye out for Thunderbolt as I love beers like Rouge Hop etc.

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