First Chop wins awards for beers SYL & THE CHOP in October 2015

Here at First Chop brewery, we’ve won a couple of awards that we’re pretty chuffed about. The first one is for SYL, our black IPA, which has secured us a number of medals and prizes, the most recent being bronze in SIBA’s NW regional contest which was held in Bolton in October 2015. The second award was quite a treat too, with our bitter The Chop winning silver in the Bitter category at the prestigious 41st Sheffield Beer & Cider Festival.

For those who’d like to sample our latest award winners at home, order on line at, or pop into your local independent beer shop. If you’re in Manchester and fancy a pint, why not visit Mono, Strange Brew or Time and Place in Heaton Moor to names but a few of our favourite local bars. If you’re in the Ramsbottom area, check out our sister premises the Ramsbottom Tap (43 Bolton Street BL0 9HU) where there’s always a selection of our ales available on the 10keg and 5cask lines. It’s also an award winning cider house, with five real ciders always on tap.

Pic: The shiny new bar at our sister venue, The Ramsbottom Tap

Maris Otter 50 Festival and more about our malt…

Here at First Chop, we like to use only use the best ingredients – which means sourcing malt for our beers from Warminster Maltings. Over the years, the Wiltshire-based producer has won a wealth of awards and is the UK’s most historic maltings, with more than 160 years of experience in the Victorian ‘floor malting’ technique that they use for making malt from barley.

As well as using exceptional ingredients, the maltsers place great importance on the ‘terroir’ of the barley that they use – which is something we are particularly excited by. In fact, we think it makes a real difference to our beers. ‘Terroir’ is a French word, meaning ‘sense of place’ that is usually associated with wine production. It refers to the unique qualities passed on through the soil into plants like barley. We actually think that this ‘terroir’ adds real depth of flavour our beers and it was a big factor in our decision when we were shopping around for suppliers.

To explain a bit more: the Maltings use a type of barley called Maris Otter, which is well suited to the particular soil type in the region. This plant was developed 50 years ago, specifically for what’s known as the ‘Icknield Series’ soil that it grows in. Thanks to a combination of factors that include soil type, barley variety, malting process – plus our brewing methods – you can rest assured that your pint of First Chop contains only the best.

First Chop have been invited to take part in the Maris Otter 50 festival, which is happening in Norfolk this weekend to celebrate the fine barley’s birthday. All fifty brewers taking part in the festival will craft a new brew to debut at the event. Ours is called ‘Manchester Sun’ and its brewed from Maris Otter malt with Sorachi Ace and Pacifica hops. Sunshine in a glass just for you.

Maris Otter 50 Festival, Norfolk, Thu 17- Sat 19 Sep. Visit the website now for more details or to book tickets.

Unabomber DJs to headline our charity all-dayer Chop Beats 15

Manchester legends Unabomber DJs are headlining The First Chop Brewing Arm at an all day fundraising event to support local charity Forever Manchester. Last year, Chop Beats Forever raised more than £1,000 for the charity that supports community groups and projects across Greater Manchester. A programme of live music and food from Manchester’s best pop-ups including Honest Crust Pizza, Splendid Kitchen, Ginger Tart and Fire and Salt BBQ will be available throughout the day – then party into the night courtesy of the Unabombers.

Organiser and Forever Manchester Ambassador Kathleen O’Connor said: “We have extended this year’s event by taking it from 2pm through to the early hours so you can swing by with your family early doors, or party into the wee hours. Thanks to First Chop for their fantastic support. We are looking forward to seeing some exciting acts performing.”

Entry is free with donations welcomed. Capacity is limited so people are advised to get down early. Guests are recommended to RSVP on Facebook and EventBrite.

Sat 20 Jun, First Chop Brewing Arm, Unit 3 Trinity Row, Salford M3 5EN, 2pm – 1am,, For acts and timings follow #ChopBeats15 on our Twitter and

New Manchester Festival Bitter, MCR, brewed with CAMRA for the Beer and Cider Festival

First Chop has a new beer on the loose. It has been unveiled today (Wed 21 Jan) at the Manchester Beer and Cider Festival 2015 which runs until Saturday (24 Jan 2015) at the National Cycling Centre in Manchester. Called MCR – Manchester Festival Bitter, it was brewed earlier this month with CAMRA regional director Andrew Rodbourne and Trafford and Hulme branch committee member Mark Reeves. We hope you enjoy it. For a first taste of our take on the classic Manchester Bitter,  we recommend booking tickets for the Beer Festival here. They’re free to CAMRA members, and £3 or £6 to everyone else.

First Chop voted ‘Favorite Local Beer’ in the Skinny’s Food and Drink Survey 2015

We’re delighted that we’ve been voted Favourite Local Beer by North West-based cultural magazine, The Skinny. It’s great to know that people are enjoying our beer – and even better to win an award for it! The result was announced in The Skinny’s Food and Drink Survey 2015. You can read the full list of winners in the Skinny online – or pick up a free copy from shops, art galleries and restaurants across Manchester and Liverpool.

First Chop to represent the NW at Norfolk’s Maris Otter 50th Beer Festival

It’s not often that a cereal grain makes history. However, in collaboration with our good selves here at First Chop, Maris Otter barley will be at the centre of an international celebration taking place next year. The Maris Otter 50th Beer Festival in September 2015 will mark the extraordinary success of this malting barley – revered among ale brewers as the Rolls Royce of brewing malts. The Festival, the first ever to focus on a particular malt, will feature 50 new cask ales from across the country and the world.

“There is only one brewer representing Greater Manchester with a cask ale for the Festival and we’re honoured to have been invited to provide the region’s contribution to the event,” says our head brewer, Richard Garner. “The only stipulations are that it’s cask ale and – obviously – that it uses Maris Otter malted barley. Given that this is the only variety to have been in continual production for so long, it’s definitely worth celebrating. Fifty years gives a golden excuse to talk about ingredients, craftsmanship, flavour -and all that is good about traditional British brewing and We’re going to create a truly special ale as a tribute to this phenomenal barley variety.”

Long lasting

Cereal grain varieties are typically short-lived. They rarely survive beyond six or seven years. Maris Otter is different. From 1965, when it was first grown, it captured the support of ale brewers. It went through a challenging patch, and was brought back from the brink by grain merchants H Banham and another enterprising partner. It has since gone from strength to strength, and in September next year, it will have been in continual production for half a century.

Richard says: “We’ve been using Maris Otter malt for many years so I can vouch for its consistent performance in the brewing process. Most importantly, I can vouch for the fact that, when treated right, it produces top quality ales with great depth of flavour and character. Our popular ale HOP is testament to that.”

The Maris Otter 50th Beer Festival takes place 17 – 19 September 2015 in Norfolk, the main growing region for the variety. Tickets and information are available here:

Extra Love Pale Mango Ale launch at First Chop Brewing Arm

Here at First Chop, we want summer to live on. It suits us and we like its tropical flavours. We also like its chilled out reggae soundtrack. So, for the ultimate endless summer, we’ve teamed up with our favourite reggae-dub ten-piece, Extra Love, to create a beer that taste like the tropics. Extra Love Pale Mango Ale is a uniquely crafted beer, created using real mangos and a number of other top secret ingredients. The result is a warming, US-style pale ale that will have you swooning. The beer will soon be available in a number of venues around the UK, as well as at the forthcoming IMBC. To celebrate it’s launch, the Extra Love crew will be onsite to provide live entertainment with an extended live set. The skanking will continue late into the night, fuelled by lashings of Extra Love Pale Ale, with Sir Robin Longshot (Deaf Institute’s Reggae Thursdays) on the decks.

Launch party: Fri 12 Sep 2014, First Chop Brewing Arm, Unit 3 Trinity Row, Trinity Way, Salford, M3 5EN, 8pm, £5, Extra Love Pale Ale will be available nationwide after this. Follow us on Twitter @firstchopale for up to the minute details.