Seven Bro7hers

Great beer comes out of great culture


Most breweries are born of some inclination to do something different, fill a gap in the market, or bridge the distance between what’s done and what might be possible. But to consider a Manchester brewery in isolation from the fabric of the city itself is to bypass something that’s critical to understanding what makes a beer city in the first place, and then what constitutes its unique flavour. 

When I ask Jack Dixon, head brewer at Seven Bro7hers Brewing, what he thinks gives rise to the brilliant beer culture in Manchester, he sagely responds that “while great beer comes first and foremost, it's also artists and creatives, musicians, events, tap rooms, and people that are doing food pop-ups that make up this massive network of people that are smart, and talented and creative. People have gravitated towards that in Manchester and it’s become the way the culture is.”

He speaks from experience, as Jack’s brewing career has seen him migrate exclusively between breweries in Greater Manchester, some of which have been particularly people and community focused. He actually came to brewing through work he did at The Star Inn of Higher Broughton, the UK’s first urban, co-operative pub, which was bought over by local residents after the initial venture had to close on account of hard times. The pub had a nanobrewery onsite, which was run by Richard Bazen of the trailblazing but now defunct Phoenix Brewing Company. Here, Jack did a couple of brews with Richard, caught the bug, and from there found an apprenticeship at First Chop, another local brewery that specialises in gluten free beers. 

Tragically, during Jack’s time at First Chop, an electrical fault at the brewery resulted in a fire that destroyed much of the site, leaving the brand, which is still operational, without a permanent residence for a substantial period of time. While First Chop found a new site and built a new brewery, Jack cuckoo brewed at Seven Bro7hers, and eventually became so integrated into the team there, that they invited him to join the ranks. 

So when Jack states that the city is a hotbed of movers and shakers, he should be believed, but it also seems to me that Manchester has little time for the pomp and ceremony that can make a space or product feel inaccessible. When Jack tells me that Seven Bro7hers’ aspiration is to be “#clearwithbeer” so their products can be enjoyed by everyone, no matter their knowledge or experience of craft, I’m reminded of an observation made by Sam Wheatly of Exhibition MCR. 

Sam noted how unusual it is for a city the size of Manchester to have just one Michelin star restaurant, but such a wealth of wonderful eateries producing exciting, high quality, and accessible food. His observation is laden with the suggestion that Mancunians don’t have much time for airs or graces, but also mirrors the ethos of Seven Bro7her’s to the extent that it reinforces Jack’s claim about interconnected creative industries amounting to the vast network that makes up Manchester. 

Head brewer Jack

The importance of people in Manchester is written all over Seven Bro7hers. You might have heard the brewery’s origin story, and be aware of how the seven McAvoy brothers were inspired by their father’s love of homebrewing, eventually setting out to establish their own brewery. What’s less well known is that before Seven Bro7hers was even a thought, brother number two, Keith McAvoy, worked in Oslo where he was heavily influenced by the brewpub scene. 

Obviously, with brewpubs being a model best positioned in densely populated areas, and Manchester city centre being an expensive place for any business to find footing, Seven Bro7hers didn’t quite pursue the brewpub avenue, though traces of its influence can be found all over the brand as we know it today. 

For one, expansion for Seven Bro7hers over the last number of years has come in the growing number of its bars, all of which are places where drinkers can provide direct feedback and sample the freshest Seven Bro7hers beer. 

“We’re not trying to reinvent the wheel here”, says Jack. “Of course we do nod to different, more experimental stuff, but the main mission of that is to create craft beer that’s unassuming. We always want to keep things accessible where possible.” 

While expanding the estate of bars and taprooms might sensibly slow over the next few years, while the craft industry feels out what might be an extensive and challenging economic time, Jack says that the brewery’s focus for now is on improving quality and consistency. 

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