Licensing · Northern Ireland

United in Manchester

A terrible thing preceded a wonderful thing last weekend in Manchester.

The terrible thing was Cloudwater brewery’s much anticipated first Friends & Family & Beer festival being wound up after less than one full day. Licensing issues were to blame and whatever the intricacies of rights and wrongs, the festival came to a shuddering halt after the Friday session. Saturday’s sessions were definitely not going to happen.

Cloudwater issued a blogpost and made social media shout outs for help to absolutely anyone who could sort the problem. Anyone. Their twitter feed was updated on an hourly basis.


And slowly, over a few hours on Friday night/Saturday morning, sadness and desperation turned to optimism, then elation, joy and pride…


…followed by humble gratitude.


This is what happens when leaders pull together to fix a problem as quickly as possible.

MPs, councillors, licensing officers and even the city’s ‘night tsar’ worked together for the greater good.

At the weekend. *applauds*

I’m from Northern Ireland and it’s hard – if not impossible – to recall a time when something like that happened in one of our towns or cities. Just imagine the positive possibilities for NI if bigwigs could come together like they did in Manchester to help a local brewery after it messed up.

A semi-similar issue to that at Cloudwater happened in Belfast last month at the first Knockout/Farmageddon combined taproom. After a hugely successful Friday night, the event was pulled at 6pm on Saturday following a number of issues. What the issues were isn’t up for discussion right now but I wonder how many people in power came to the aid of the two breweries involved?

From speaking to many brewery owners over the past couple of years, they feel disconnected with most of our politicians and those who make important decisions. People at the top seem not to care. Why do they give the impression of not caring? Is it due to the alcohol factor? Is it because local breweries aren’t big enough to matter?

This needs to change.

We can all learn from Manchester’s coming together.

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