Skip to main content


Showing posts from March, 2016


Is Family Friendly "Craft" any different from, say, Wetherspoons? This is not an angry rant, nor an aggressive opinion piece. It is merely a recent ponder that came to the forefront during an inaugural visit to Hawkshead Brewery Beer Hall over the weekend.  Let us make it clear, I really enjoyed Hawkshead Beer Hall. In the lovely Cumbrian village of Staveley, it's set across two floors with (what would be) ample seating, a long bar, huge windows and a terrific number of Hawkshead Brewery pumps. Large sections of the brewery itself are visible and free to walk around via viewing platforms. Even free brewery tours are announced every now and then across the Hall to anybody who'd like one. We stayed for hours and I consider it a beer-must-visit, especially for those in North-West England.  It should also be noted that our visit was on Easter Saturday, which could well be a huge factor in the context of this post. There will have been more families ou

TORRSIDE BREWING: For the love of Smoke and Barley

I'm sat at my kitchen table, laptop in front of me, leant back, arms folded, brow furrowed, staring ponderously at the glass of beer in front of me. It's a pose I strike only three or four times a year, perhaps. It's the pose that asks the question 'What   is   this that I'm drinking?' I'm drinking a beer from   Torrside brewery   based in New Mills, Derbyshire. Officially opened last year and taking their name from the Torrs gorge running through the town, the brewery is the creation of three Manchester-circuit well known ex-homebrewers;   Chris Clough ,   Peter Sidwell   and   Nick Wright . At the moment, Torrside are making gentle waves in Manchester bars with their moreish range of pale ales, though they are yet to establish a core range. This is perhaps unsurprising with the trio of brewers still working full time jobs around their recent venture.   "Our initial plan was to brew a series of different beers over our first year and whi


Yesterday marked the third anniversary of a blog post written in a tongue-in-cheek manner about Brewdog. I noticed this because for three solid years that post has been amongst my top 5 most read posts per mont h. Much has changed and developed in three years, especially for the Scottish brewery. I don't necessarily still agree with a ll the points I made in that post; I certainly do not agree with the God awful grammar used in the post's title and throughout. Still, I'm always surprised it's so heavily viewed regularly and consistently this number of years on.  I wouldn't have returned to such a well documented and overly endorsed subject as Brewdog had it not been for a heated discussion that happened in a pub over the weekend that led to me being verbally threatened. I wrote that original post because I was tired of so many Twitter characters and Blog words being used on the damnation of this particular brewery's nature and mission statement. Pe

LIVING WITH BEER AND MENTAL HEALTH part two: Where Everybody Knows Your Name...

Saved by the Pub I’ve struggled for many years as a beer enthusiast and a sufferer of Depression to try and correlate the two. Whilst I’ve written about the two in different ways, I’ve never really considered how the worlds collide on a consistently balanced knife-edge. Either one could take control at any moment and kill me but both are defining characteristics of Mark Johnson. I want to finally explore how it is to be a Beer Enthusiast and a Mental Health sufferer; to explore how the two can live together. I want to look at the ways they’ve destroyed people but also at the way they’ve saved lives, the way it saved mine. The media perception of the two removes the humanity from the stories that I want to return. There are unhappy stories but there are many happy ones to coincide. The Passion of St. Raphael's  In July 2011, the church my mother went to mass in every Sunday said its final mass and closed its doors. It was a sad day for us all, as it