A Trip To Hydes Brewery
Hydes Brewery began its life in the mid 19th century with premises in Audenshaw. It then migrated to Ardwick, Ancoats and then Rusholme before buying the Queens Brewery in Moss Side in 1899. It’s this listed Victorian building that people most associate with the brewery and where, during the Second World War, they changed their name to Hydes Anvil which became a familiar sight around Manchester. But with fluctuations in the brewing world and faced with rising costs and wasted space; the decision was made in 2012 to downsize and modernise.
The result is a £2 million state-of-the-art brewery in Salford, close to MediaCity. Production and Distribution Director, Paul Jefferies, has been with Hydes for quite awhile now and was kind enough to show my little group around. There is actually very little to see because everything is so streamlined, but what there is looks very impressive. It’s a 20000 sq ft unit that used to be a Greenall’s (remember them?) distribution depot. It’s the most automated brewery of its size in the country and boasts a recirculating mash tun and a copper whirlpool that can all be controlled by a Star Trek like computer panel.
Indeed such is the automation that, theoretically, it could all be controlled from anywhere with wifi access. The days of shovelling out the mash tun are over and the only things done by hand are the addition of malt and hops. But Paul was quick to point that this doesn’t mean he gets to put his feet up and brew by remote control. If anything, an operation like this requires a precise eye as the amount of detail and data that you can manipulate is amazing. What the ability to finely control the amount of yeast and monitor each stage does give you is what every brewer strives for: consistency.
Everything is done in-house and barrelage is about 20000 a year, 8000 of which is real ale. Compare that to Hydes' real ale production of 100 years ago: 25739 and 36 gallon barrels at that, and you get an insight into the challenges of modern brewing. Hydes are very much into innovation and their Beer Studio range showcase experimental malts and hops, many of which will not see commercial production. The old brewery had its own borehole but here it’s town water that’s used, albeit treated as Manchester water is simply too ‘clean’.
A very interesting and informative tour which, like all the best tours, ended as it started; in the bar. Thanks to both Pauls-Jefferies and King for such a good evening.