Stubborn Mule Brewery has come a long way in a little over 18 months.

In fact despite finding the latest premises in early 2016 the beer was still being brewed in a back garden shed in Timperley well in to summer 2016. The brewery remains a one-man brewery.

The name says it all but this place has been built and driven by one person’s stubborn and resolute ambition to make life more interesting, challenging, fulfilling and most importantly fun.

After working for the Bank of New York in Manchester for 11 years I (husband, father, head Brewer, brewery designer, plumber, cleaner, salesman, driver, and decorator amongst lots of other things) decided that at 37 and with second child on the way there was no point getting hung up about sitting behind my desk for the next 10 years in the most corporate of worlds.

Cue a decision that would change my life completely and provide the biggest challenge I’ve ever had.

Fun? What do they say about hindsight? 😉

By mid-2015 I’d brewed regularly for about 3 years, research in to the US’s top neighbourhood breweries, their beers and their ethos wasn’t really an arduous task at this stage. Stage set. This is what we wanted to bring to Altrincham.

Next was to settle on a range of three beers based on favourite past brews, bottle and vaguely brand them to see how feasible it was to sell them. I don’t have many friends who don’t like free beer so in terms of getting feedback this seemed the best bet – paying customers.

Each bottle seemed like a job interview. Still does.

HMRC rubberstamped in Aug 2015 and the first beers were sold in 330ml bottles in October. Hats off to the guys in Dusk Til Pawn in the NQ for taking the chance. I’d just sat and heard the price another brewery was trying to sell a case of 24 for so I got the sample out and undercut. I was planning on selling by the bottle. Jesus.

Sales continued to be sporadic for the next few months; I’ll blame the day job at the time for this. That said, more places were taking the beers, the reviews we’re decent and the beer was becoming more consistent. Cask and Keg filling followed, usually in the kitchen.

Now about six months after starting to take the idea of opening a brewery seriously we’re in January 2016.

I’m tentatively looking at pricing premises, even had a viewing on a place in Sale, just off Dane Road. Too much work. Too much money. Maybe this is just all a blast to get something out of the system, realise you can’t do it on your own then back to faulty air conditioning, Monday-Friday and a monitor tanned face. Next up Radium Works. I knew on walking in the door it was take this one or not bother, you sometimes get that feeling, it looked spot on.

Time to convince the family. Lease signed in April 2016.

Sorting the premises was fine, I’d visited breweries, lot’s around Manchester were great, Seven Brothers, answered everything I threw at them, they even let me dig out their mash tun. Steve at Beer Nouveau has always given sound advice when asked. Others have shown me FV set-ups and shared their yeast problems with me. One thing has stood out throughout.

Regardless of where you’re coming from (potential competitor in this case) there’s definitely a sense of people pulling together to make Manchester a great beer city. Long may it continue.

You make these choices and don’t get me wrong I’d not change things.

I wanted a challenge. The next six months were indeed that.

I’d invested personally and received backing in the form of a loan from Business Finance Solutions in Manchester. You think you’re ready to rock, you’re not. As a new business and brewery, when your key brewing equipment supplier rolls over on you cash in hand, you don’t really need it. Enough said. This near disaster before the brewery had even started has meant we’ve had to show huge amounts of resolve as a family.

On December 6th 2016 I finally made the leap from being a guy brewing on a 100l kit in a shed to being a guy brewing on 10bbl kit in the Stubborn Mule Brewery Tap.

We’re now looking forward to where we can take things.

Cheers.

Ed Bright

MD, Head Brewer, Chief Dreamer & Stubborn Mule.