Runaway Brewery – 5 Years Old

It doesn’t seem that long ago when I first met the man I came to know as Mark Welsby. Whenever I went to a Meet The Brewer events at Port Street Beer House, there he was, always smiling.

I didn’t know who he was. Just this nice bloke.

He hasn’t changed. One bit.

He went on to create a brewery. Runaway. My favourite keg brewery. One of the easiest choices of my “Golden Pints” of 2018.

Mark has created beers that have rocked my world. (I’ve stopped asking him to brew Lemon Drizzle”), but I don’t want my world rocking. What – to me – is far more important, is consistency. Consistent excellence. That knowledge that – when you walk in a bar – you can rely on what you see.

He has created one of my all-time favourite beers. His American Brown. Still makes me shiver remembering having it on cask at ISBF. Still drink it in keg and bottle wherever I see it. It’s the best example I know.

He’s been one of the biggest supporters of ISBF.

He’s a star. Something he’s too self-deprecating to understand himself.

And – this weekend – Runaway Is 5. A date which coincides with Mark’s own birthday.

So he’s throwing a party.

I was massively flattered to be invited to host a bar at this bash. To be asked by one of your heroes to contribute? It was an easy question to answer. Yes. Of course, yes. I couldn’t say “no” to one of the nicest of beer people.

He even let me just go and source. Left me to have a play. So I did.

That’s the beer list for the #ISBF6 bar. Next to us, there is a cask bar. Because – although he doesn’t ordinarily brew for cask – Mark loves cask conditioned beer.

Mark has gone collab frenzy mode. And gone made some special beers with some friends. I had some last night. And they’re lovely.

There are a number of events being hosted. As part of the party.

An exceptional Cider tasting and chat. With Cath Potter. I’ve been to one of these. And it astonished me. Cath & Dick (her partner) REALLY know their stuff. THEY are the reason I drink – and enthuse about – Cider. Tickets here. Don’t miss this.

There is a chat – hosted by those lovable Beernomicon scamps – on my favourite subject, the future for Micro brewing. That’s here. I might be involved…..

There is even a tutored tasting with the eminence grise that is John Clarke! With some exceptional beers being sampled. Beers that hit my sweet spot, Farmhouse style and mixed fermentation beers. That is here….

There is SO much more going on with some great food vendors turning out to feed you too.

It’s going to be a party. A Mancunian beer party.

Aren’t they the best kind?

Hey. I might even spill an #ISBF6 secret or two……..

Come and join us. Let’s have a giggle. It’s what we Worker Bees do….

East West Fest 2019 – My Favourite Beer Event Got Better.

East West Fest. It may be small, but – to these rather biased eyes – it’s perfectly formed.

And has left me wanting more. Feeling curiously low after a weekend of highs.

And for all the quite excellent beer there this weekend, it’s always the people that supply those highs. Good people. Drinking good beer. (Now where have I heard that before……?)


This event affects my friends and I in a number of ways. The first being the checking of calendars, nudging Malcolm to set dates, to facilitate the booking of hotel rooms 7 months in advance. We actually do get excited THAT early.

That’s the impact this little Red Shed can have.

Rooms booked, it’s shortly after this that Malcolm and I start to think about the breweries we want involved. And I start to get all tingly again. And start up my spreadsheet.

Have I said quite how much I love this little bash?

The Build Up

Once I start to get an idea of the breweries involved (normally 3 months in advance), I start to wind up our little group, with hints dropped here and there.

The trains get booked. We wake up the Social Media accounts that go into hibernation for 9 or 10 months. And start planning one or two collaboration specials – one of this year’s being a long mooted Black Jack x Five Towns mash up.

Ahh…. May Day. The Arch Nemesis killer.

Have I said quite how much I love this little bash?

The Weekend

For those of us travelling across the Pennines and from points further North and South, it’s an early start on the Friday.

Bag packed, raffle prize donation in hand, off to Manchester. The traditional coffee at Java on the concourse at Victoria awaited (will someone please tell Costa & Starbucks to piss off from Victoria? They can’t beat this little independent on flavour….)

(image courtesy @BeerFinderGen)

The journey across seemed to take an AGE! That’s anticipation for you I suppose.

Arriving at the Shed is always a bit of a joy. Like greeting an old friend (hold that thought!). And some habits die hard. Like winding up a Torrside fanboy that the Raspberry Tea IPA had run out. (James. I refuse to apologise….)

From the moment our little group started to coalesce on the Friday lunchtime, it was like we’d never been away and apart. It was just – and remains – the most fun event I know. And that’s down to company old and new.

Especially when Chris won his bet….Respect….

I don’t think Malcolm thought that Chris actually WOULD turn up dressed as a little old lady pulling a shopping trolley. It cost him £100 into the charity pot. A price he willingly paid. Laughing.

Chris is a genius. And that wig spawned a number of celebrity impersonations.

The best being Jack Osborne

And a serviceable early period Leo Sayer

Now and again, the tears of laughter would dry. And we’d drink beer. And the beer was tremendous. If on the strong side (which we loved BTW)

Highlights on the lighter side were beers from Yorkshire, Chin Chin & Revolutions, Dark side, the Northern Monkey “Film Club” Popcorn Stout was bloody lush.

4 of the 20 beers were 8%+. And bloody lush. The Redwillow Small Batch Simcoe DIPA was punchy & fruity. Both Five Towns beers (8,% Chocolate Orange Stout & 8.8% May Day) flew and as for the Abbeydale Funk Bretted Imperial Stout….

Day 2 (Saturday for us) saw some more first time visitors from over the right side of the Pennines and it was great to see Andrew R back, goes to show it’s not just our little group who “get” this.

And that wig never got boring….

OK. As everyone who comes knows. This is a little red shed.

You should NOT have the beers that we do. But we do.

This year we had people from York, Glastonbury, Peterborough, Wolverhampton not to mention the sizeable Mancunian contingent. They all went away and “got” what we “get”.

I would say that this was probably the best beer list I’ve been involved with. But the beer was almost secondary.

It’s the people. The fun. The atmosphere.

I’m bloody proud to be a small part of it.

And I’ll be booking next year’s hotel room before #ISBF6. Trust me.

Have I said quite how much I love this little bash?