This time last year, it felt like we were starting up all over again. We'd just taken on our own arch, it was very much a blank canvas, laid out for us to imprint our plans and dreams for Balance on to. Looking back, it's incredible how far we've come in a year, and our space is finally looking like the place we dreamt of.
In with the New
After moving in December 2022 we acquired a 5000L foeder, followed by 80 barrels, the majority of which held red wine in a previous life. Then in late February, we began to brew. In the period between February and May we brewed twice as much beer as our old site could hold. As of the end of 2023 we have around 75% of our barrels filled with the aim of getting that close to 100% in the next few months.
Out with the Old (beers!)
Of course, as our beer takes upward of twelve months from brew to release, most of the beer we released last year was brewed and fermented primarily at our old site. Among the 12 releases we did last year some highlights for me are:
Brave Noise Saison - a really delicious extra hoppy version of our saison for the Brave Noise series of beers: standing alongside other breweries to fight sexism and other forms of discrimination.
Clingstone - our first 'second use' fruited beer. The residual damson stone character was so unique and I love the idea of getting more out of one ingredient to create a brand new beer.
Sloe Beer - A beer with sloes foraged by our mate, Russell. The flavour of this is just stunning. Cannot wait to use sloes again! It's just a shame we've got none of these bottles left at the brewery...
It's going to be very exciting over the course of this year to see all the beer brewed in 2023 coming to fruition this year!
One of the many reasons we wanted a space in central Manchester location was to house our own taproom. Having a space dedicated to mixed ferm, wild and sour beers felt like such an exciting and new proposition for Manchester. The lead up to the taproom's opening in August contained some of the hardest work, latest nights and highest stress moments that we've ever experienced. Thankfully, the launch went fantastically and since then we've relished getting behind the bar to serve our beers to you lot.
Festivals, Events & Collabs
One of the great pleasures of this industry is sharing great times, and great beers, with like-minded people. We were lucky to have a lot of opportunities to do that last year! For the first time we took our beers to Europe for Carnivale Brettanomyces, Acido Acida and Billie's. And from Little Earth Fest to Dark & Wild, there were many great festivals closer to home.
Then there were the collabs: Blender, Funk Dungeon, Wilderness, Mills, Burning Sky and Dolphin. It was an absolute pleasure to brew with so many friends. Most of these will be ready to go this year: watch this space!
On a personal level, 2023 will be remembered as the year we went full-time. Scaling up from our little part-time operation was always going to be a challenge. In many ways this has been the biggest thing to happen in the last twelve months. We took the final leap of faith that our passion project could make us a living. For all the stress and hard work, it's a pretty amazing thing to be able to wake up and work at something you've created each and every day. We're really looking forward to what 2024 brings for Balance!