We make no apologies for championing Joseph Holt's beer and proclaiming it the finest pint in town. It's famously cheap, plentiful, proudly Mancunian, and above all, bleedin' lovely. For many Mancunians (including us), Holt's was their first proper pint, in the days when pints were priced in pence, and there are many locals who "won't drink owt else." Whether it's a thirst quenching pint of bitter, a leisurely session on the Dark Mild, or a chilled bottle of one of Holt's many fine premium offerings, you can't go wrong with Joey's (unless you're a lager drinker, in which case it's the Diamond or Crystal). Here's the story of Manchester's finest brewer, as told in a nice piece in The Changing Face of Manchester .
Joseph Holt. (c) andrewsvirtualbrewery.
In the 19th Century beer production in Manchester was lucrative to both the economy and the city's social well-being. The government as a whole was able to claim nearly a quarter of its revenues, at the time, from the excise duty levied on beer. The rise in the number of public houses steadily grew and the people of Manchester enjoyed frequenting them as a place to unwind, especially after a hard day's physical labour in one of the city's many mills or factories.
Raised the son of a weaver in the small textile village of Unsworth, Joseph Holt was attracted to the business opportunity offered by the burgeoning city of Manchester and took his first job as a carter at Harrison's Strangeways Brewery. Holt married a schoolteacher with an astute mind for business, and their first brewery in 1849 was a small building behind the Butchers Arms on Oak Street, now the Wheatsheaf. By 1855 they had moved to the Ducie Bridge Brewery where Holt would lend money to publicans in return for 5% interest and the sale of his beer. In 1860 Joseph Holt had built a brand new brewery, the Derby Brewery on Empire Street in Cheetham Hill half a mile north of the city centre, where the it still stands and operates from today.
The Joseph Holt Derby Brewery, Empire Street. (c) quaffale.
Despite the deep depression of the early 1860s, due to the Lancashire Cotton Famine brought on by the American Civil War, Joseph Holt bravely changed his strategy. Instead of selling beer at wholesale prices, he decided to open his own managed public houses, selling beer at retail prices. In 1882, Holt handed control of the business to his son, Edward Holt, by which time the family company already had 20 pubs to their name. Edward Holt quickly established himself as a successful entrepreneur, and, as did many figureheads within the brewery trade, he turned his hand to local politics. Of greatest significance was his work with the Council to bring soft water to the homes of the people of Manchester from the Lake District, via the 70 miles of pipeline, a source that is still used today. This achievement saw him elected as Lord Mayor of Manchester in 1908, a decision that sparked much controversy with his links to the brewery trade. However, the Manchester public held a different view and the was re-elected for a second term.
Chief Executive Richard Kershaw in the brewery. (c) citylife.
For over 150 years, there have been few changes to the original brewing process at the Derby Brewery. The brewery itself has retained its traditional style, although all of the plant has been replaced and expanded over the years, and where necessary modern high-tech equipment is used. The company sources whole cone hops from England along with the best quality English malt, to being drinkers a choice of beers each with their own unique taste. The range of bottled and draught beers produced by Joseph Holt can be enjoyed in one of the 130+ Holt's houses in and around the Greater Manchester area, but as far afield as Southport and Blackpool. Holts houses within our boundary are: Ape & Apple, Crown & Anchor, Crown & Cushion, Derby Brewery Arms and Old Monkey, with the Eagle Inn and Bricklayers Arms just outside, in Salford (special mention to for our local, the Volunteer).
Volunteer, Cross Street, Sale. (c) garstonian at flickr.
The bottled ales have been particularly successful in winning prestigious awards within the brewery industry and with major UK retailers. A famous name on the streets of Manchester, Joseph Holt was voted one of the city's greatest ever business leaders by Manchester Evening News readers.
Holt's bottle premium bottled ales. (c) joseph-holt.
Joseph Holt has supported local charities since its early beginnings, in particular the Christie Hospital, the largest single-site cancer research and treatment centre in Europe. In 1914 Sir Edward Holt helped raise funds to purchase radium for the Manchester and District Radium Institute, later named the Holt Radium Institute in his honour, which finally amalgamated with the Christie Hospital in 1932. When Sir Edward's son, also Edward, took over the business, Holt's support of Christie's increased. When Sir Edward's wife, Lady Margaret, died in 1996, she left Christie's £7 million of her shares in the brewery. Joseph Holt has continued to support Christie's, even naming a beer in the hospital's honour. In 1999, during Holt's 150th year in business, its customers and staff raised £301,000 to upgrade the Outpatients Department at Christie's. This resulted in the outpatients entrance being named the Holt Entrance. No group or organisation has done more for Christie's cause, and this has been achieved largely through the loyalty and support of all Holt's customers. There are few family brewers left in the UK today; most have been swallowed up by the giants of the industry. Holt's is one of four that have survived in Manchester, and its enduring success can be attributed to nothing more than a well-run company serving its customers with quality product.
Joseph Holt - Bringing the Christie to Salford.
The Christie is proposing to build a new wing at Hope Hospital in Salford in order to make it considerably more convenient for people to receive treatment. This building work will commence in October 2009 and be completed in early 2011. Holt's are targeting to raise £250,000 to provide the reception area for this new treatment centre. It will be known as The Joseph Holt Reception Area. For every £1 raised then the Company will donate £2 through both the Edward Holt and Peter Kershaw Trusts. To donate follow this link.
1. The Changing Face of Manchester Volume 3. At Heart (2007).