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Visit to Joseph Holt’s Brewery

18th February 2022

Eleven members battled against storm Eunice and duly arrived at Empire Street at 2:00pm for a rare treat – a tour of Joseph Holt’s. The brewery is in the Cheetham Hill area of Manchester, a few bus stops north of the city centre.

We were welcomed by Phil Parkinson, head brewer at Holt’s for the past 7 years, having previously been at Bank’s/Marston’s for 14 years.

Having donned hi-vis jackets, Phil gave us a very detailed tour of the brewery. It is a tower brewery, which involved much climbing and descending of iron stairs, the last being a spiral staircase!

Items of note were:

  • Production of lager has just overtaken the production of cask beer.
  • Their high gravity bottled beers, Sixex dark ale, had just won a European beer industry gold.
  • Mild was still produced, but is only supplied to half a dozen pubs.
  • There was a small pilot plant for the test brewing of new products.
  • Hop pellets were used, primarily from the UK hops. American hops are crazily expensive.
  • The building and equipment were wonderfully traditional, as one would expect at Holt’s.
  • No samples were provided at the brewery.
  • The £90,000 of CMIC’s funds invested in Holt’s would appear to be a good investment.

Head brewer, Phil Parkinson, showing the intricacies of the brewery pipework.

Tour of the Joseph Holt’s brewery.

After the visit, most participants sampled a few in the Derby Brewery Arms, close to the brewery. Bitter cost a hefty (for Holt’s) £3.50 per pint.

One member then cycled off into the wind and rain while the rest transferred to the newly acquired Lower Turks Head on Shudehill. Mild was available and was in great demand. The beer tested in both pubs was in very good order.

Tour of the Joseph Holt’s brewery.

Tour of the Joseph Holt’s brewery.

Report by Neil Kellett – CMIC Committee Member