The term “nature is healing” has perhaps been a tad overused during the past couple of years – although the other week, a new brewery opened in Manchester, which after months of pub closures and pandemic anxiety genuinely felt like a return to something resembling normality. One I took great comfort in.
Nestling into the railway arch on Sheffield Street, right behind Piccadilly Station and formerly occupied by Track Brew Co (which has moved just down the road to its spacious new home on Piccadilly trading estate) Sureshot Brewery already feels cemented in place; a key fixture in the thriving Manchester beer scene.
Much of this is to do with the reputation of its founder, James Campbell, who’s been a crucial figure in northwestern beer for many years. Many years ago, he guided Marble Brewery through its formative years, and he was a founding member of Cloudwater when it launched in 2015, where he served as head brewer until parting ways three years later.
James hasn’t spent the time since in the brewing wilderness. With Sureshot already a glint in his eye, he worked for brewery equipment manufacturer SSV, overseeing installs of shiny brewing vessels at the likes of Boxcar, Verdant, DEYA and many others. Four of these glinting beer fermenters are the first thing to catch my eye on a visit to the brewery a day ahead of its official launch – but it’s what’s inside them that I’m really interested in.
Sureshot isn’t planning on having a core range, instead focusing on a shifting array of styles and flavours. The initial offerings veer towards the hazy, juicy side of things, with a pair of pale ales joined by an IPA and a stronger double IPA. The latter has been dubbed Bring Me the Head of John the Accountant, a nod to the audacious price of hops these days. But despite the expense, Sureshot hasn’t held back here, with this beer showcasing judicious use of North American Strata, Mosaic, Citra and Centennial.
The flavours in this beer are bold and intense, just as a good DIPA should be. Masses of grapefruit zest and lemon rind are to the fore in the aroma, panning out to juicy mango, orange and lime in each sip. It’s a beer that commands your attention and is one to relish and savour.
A day after my visit, I made my way to the legendary Port Street Beer House for the brewery’s official launch. It was satisfyingly heaving inside, with the crowd of people eager to taste Sureshot’s beers, ensuring that all four kegs kicked in a matter of hours. It’s reassuring to see such enthusiasm for a new brewery in these oh-so-challenging times, and equally so to see Sureshot hit the ground running with a stunning range of beers. I can’t wait to see what styles James and team turn their hands to next.
Matthew Curtis is a writer, photographer and editor of Pellicle Magazine. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram @totalcurtis and @pelliclemag. Sign up to our All Killer No Filler subscription box and you'll find incredible beers like this one every month, plus more great writing from Matthew and our food writer Claire Bullen.