Bootleg Brewing Co launches homebrew competition for Manchester collaboration

Written by Denny on June 21, 2017

Every brewer knows nothing tastes more satisfying than one you created yourself!… with that mind, we at Bootleg Brewing Co wanted to find a homebrewer to collaborate with for the Chorlton Beer Festival and our first partnering with Manchester Beer Week.  To achieve this we ran a competition to find a second Bootleg brewer for the day. The winner would get to brew commercially with us and we would enter this beer into Chorlton and MBW. On top of this, the winning beer will also be sold in bars and pubs throughout Manchester and the North West.

We set out the brief for the homebrew competition, stipulating that we wanted an Anglo American Beer tying the two countries relations and unearthing the love for the art form of brewing beer.

Picture of Bootleg Brewing Co Homebrew competition judges
Picture 1 L-R: Barry Jones – Rankin Brothers & Sons, Caz O’Donnell – CAMRA Representative, Beverly Gobbet – CAMRA Representative, Stef Occhi – Head Brewer of Bootleg Brewing Co, Connor Murphy – Founder of MBW, Mark Welsby – Co-owner and Head Brewer of Runaway Brewery, Ian Bearpark – Owner and head brewer of Bearpark Brewery, Jamie Ranshaw – Murphy’s & Sons and Ben Jones – Brewer at Joseph Holt Brewery

We received a wide range of entries for the competition from all over Greater Manchester, and had the pleasure of some expert brewers, CAMRA officials and beer aficionados in the brewing industry to judge our homebrew competition. These were Connor Murphy – Founder of Manchester Beer Week, Mark Welsby – Co-owner and head brewer of Runaway Brewery, Ian Bearpark – Owner and head brewer of Bearpark Brewery, Jamie Ramshaw from Murphy’s and Sons, Barry Jones – Rankin Brothers and Sons , Caz O’Donnell and Beverly Gobbet representatives from CAMRA, Ben Jones – Brewer at Joseph Holt and our very own Bootleg Head Brewer, Stef Occhi.

As this was our first Homebrew competition, we wanted to hold an awards ceremony and Bootleg Party after the judging to announce the winner and celebrate our homebrew winner.  Both judging and the awards ceremony took place early June at the Horse & Jockey in Chorlton. The awards party was a big success and we were delighted with the Judge’s decision to crown Craig Reay who created Brew Camp, a 4.4% fruity pale ale with a light English malt bill that’s refreshing on the tongue with hints of mango and citrus from USA hops. The 2nd place winner was Rob Thornborough with his American Pale Ale named Special Relations and 3rd place was Alex Pembroke’s Porter also called Special Relationship.

Bootleg Homebrew competition winner, Craig Reay with Brew Camp beer
Picture 2: Craig Reay, Winner of Bootleg Homebrew Competition with his Pale Ale – Brew Camp.

Craig Reay, Homebrew winner commented “Brewing for me usually takes place in the late evening with the family in bed, work behind me, a beer in hand and it’s peaceful. An escape from a chaotic world if you will. After a few years honing my brewing knowledge, skills and recipes I wanted to focus on competitions this year. In truth, I wasn’t expecting to win as I know many of the homebrewers across Manchester are very good brewers. Having never won a competition before I was beaming with pride when I was announced as the winner. The Bootleg Brewing Co competition highlight is going to be brewing my own recipe commercially. Seeing a beer you created served across a bar is the greatest recognition a homebrewer can achieve.”.

Second place winner, Rob Thornborough also added “Many people are attracted to home brewing by headline claims that it costs “40p per pint”, but in my case that per pint cost continues to increase as I invest better equipment and the best quality ingredients home brewers can purchase. Thankfully the Bootleg homebrew competition has helped recover some of those costs through beer prizes! A fantastically well run homebrew comp by a small brewery making delicious craft beers, thanks Stef and team!”.

The beer is currently being brewed at our micro-brewery with Head Brewer Stef Occhi and Craig Reay with plans to release the beer for June 23rd. The beer will be made available at Chorlton’s Beer Festival, Manchester Beer Week venues and some selected pubs across Greater Manchester.

Beers will be available from late June so to try this tasty homebrew creation, visit any of the pubs listed below:

Horse & Jockey – The Green, Chorlton, Manchester, M21 9HS

Roebuck – 2 Church Street, Flixton, Manchester, M41 6HD

Fiveways – Macclesfield Road, Hazel Grove, Stockport, SK7 6BE

Platform 5 – 47 Station Road, Cheadle Hulme, SK8 7AA

Railway, Didsbury – 3 Lapwing Lane, Didsbury, Manchester, M20 2NT

Brooklyn – Green Lane, Bolton, BL3 2EF

Crown & Anchor – 6 Cateaton Street, Manchester, M3 1SQ

To view pictures from the event, click here to visit our Facebook page.