We caught up with Thirsty Games 2019 winner, Ventile Brew Co
, to see how life is treating them after last year’s IMBC victory. I mean, there’s not really been much going on has there. Doi. Entries for The Thirsty Games 2020 are still open. If you’re eligible, you should most certainly apply HERE
. The Thirsty Games is IMBC’s competition to find the best new small breweries in the UK. Let’s speak to Dave from Ventile to find out his experience of last year…
Hello Dave. Congratulations on winning The Thirsty Games 2019! How was your experience pouring at the festival?
Thanks very much. It’s the classic cliche I’m afraid but it really was a dream come true to be pouring at IMBC. I’ve been a punter at the festival for 6-7 years so it was great to experience the other side of the festival so to speak. To be stood in a room pouring my beers with the likes of Creature Comforts, Burning Sky and Garage was mind blowing and something that’ll stay with me forever. It was also great to take part in the competition alongside Cellar Boys and Vault City who I had a great time with over the weekend.
How was the response – both from the public and industry – to you winning the competition?
Really good. It was great to have fellow brewers coming up afterwards congratulating me and the response from the general public post festival was great.
Was there a particular beer that you brought to IMBC 19 that you feel helped bring the trophy home?
It’s hard to say really. My mindset was always, this may be the only chance I get to showcase my beers at this level so why not put out a full spread. I was really happy with Stairway To The Best Party, which was a coconut, cacao & coffee imperial stout. It was insane getting people coming up to the Thirsty Games stand who’d marked it as a beer to try at the festival asking when it was pouring.
You won The Thirsty Games 2019 under the ÖL Brewery moniker – very much a one man brewing operation. You’ve now set up your own brewery with Ventile Brew Co. Can you tell us a little bit about this new direction?
Winning the competition definitely was the confidence boost I needed to push on to set up for myself. I feel brewing at ÖL
awarded me the time to find my identity so to speak and to really hone my craft but apart from at the festival, my beers never left the bar where the kit was setup. So Ventile was the natural next step for me. Bigger kit, bigger space and hopefully a wider audience for the beer itself.
What is your current brewing setup and what are your plans for the future?
My new setup is a 3bbl kit with three fermenters in a 1500sq ft space located in an old cotton mill, South Manchester.
The long term plan is to have a taproom onsite with a permanent food offering that’ll compliment the taproom experience so to speak, obviously when safe to do so.
Like many brewers, you come from a culinary background. How does your kitchen experience influence your approach to Ventile?
I always saw kitchens as a place to experiment after working in a high end restaurant when I first started in the hospitality sector and I think that stuck with me. I also think when working with food you’re always looking to find balance within a dish using different ingredients, and I think that’s very much the same when developing a recipe for a beer, so there’s definitely a similar mindset that’s transferable between food and beer.
Ventile are the first Manchester brewery to win The Thirsty Games. As places open back up into new normality, what are your food and drink tips for visitors to the city?
Coffee: Siop Shop, Pollen Bakery
Food : Tokyo Ramen, Bundobust, Nell’s, Arndale Food Market, Listo Burrito, Mughli
Bevs: PSBH, Station Hop, The Magnet, Beermoth, Nordie, Heaton Hops.
Which new breweries are catching your attention in 2020?
Not sure how new all of these are but these are newish to me.
New Barns, Glasshouse, Boxcar, Dig Brew co, Overtone, Wilderness.
Lastly, it’s an exciting – and I’m sure a scary – time to be starting a new business in the Covid-19 landscape. The thirst of the nation doesn’t appear to have diminished over the past months. How can thirsty punters pick up Ventile beers? And what should drinkers look forward to from Ventile in the coming months?
To start with we’ll be just selling kegs via direct wholesale so hopefully you’ll start to see our beers at bars in and and around Manchester soon enough. We want to get beer into cans as soon as we can so then you’ll be able to order off our website (ventilebrew.co
) for delivery nationwide. We’ll also be offering free delivery within certain postcodes close to the brewery via our electric cargo bike.
Beer-wise Ventile will have a strong core range of four of five beers that’ll be around most of the time and then to experiment around that with a mixed fermentation and barrel ageing program.