Hip Flask scours the globe to bring the best craft beers direct from brewers to your doorstep.
It’s as simple as that.
But perhaps ‘simple’ is not the word, as without a great deal of passion and drive to make it work, this finely-tuned operation founded right here in Greater Manchester would fall short, but after two furloughed friends started the company with ambition and the intent of selling to a couple of people they knew, Hip Flask has since flourished.
The craft beer delivery company has taken hundreds of Mancunians on “a journey of beer discovery” since the start of lockdown, and it’s all done through expertly-selected picks with the perfect blend of flavour, character and strength to please the palate.
A Pub In A Box, you could say – which also happens to be the name of its first collection.
Hip Flask is the brainchild of Sam and Phil – childhood friends with a mutual love for all things craft beer – who after finding themselves, like many others, with a few extra hours on their hands at the start of April this year, started chatting about what they could do to fill the time.
“We’re both into our beer and we’d compare notes on any new and interesting beers we’d tried since we last met.” Sam explained to us.
“We subscribed to a couple of craft beer delivery companies, but we found them a bit lacking,
“There didn’t seem to be any context to the beers we were drinking or any information on who produced it [and] we know the passion and the artistry that goes into making craft beer [so] we wanted to show this to other people.”
It wasn’t all smooth sailing though at the start.
Sam continued: “We naively thought it would be a case of buying the beer and start selling.
“It turned out we needed a couple of licences before we could do that, but eventually, we’d licensed a spare bedroom in my house in Manchester to sell craft beer and Hip Flask was born.
“We started selling a few boxes to friends and we’ve slowly grown from there”.
And it’s fair to say that a pretty significant part of that growth is the city in which it was born, or more specifically, a hand-picked collection of beers that pays homage to and celebrates everything the city is loved around the world for.
So, what exactly is The Manchester Box then?
Well, every proud Mancunian knows that Manchester is a city with a rich and iconic history, right?
Think the Haçienda, L.S. Lowry, Paul Scholes, Emmeline Pankhurst, Franny Lee, Liam & Noel, Caroline Ahern, Anthony Burgess, Shelagh Delaney, FAC51, and not forgetting Vimto, of course – but Hip Flask wants to show the world that beer needs to be added to that list too.
The Manchester Box is designed to “highlight the unique identity of Manchester” and is filled with some of the best beer this city has to offer.
“Pubs and breweries have been some of the hardest hit financially throughout this year, particularly in Manchester,” said Sam, “[and] we wanted to do what we could to help, so we created The Manchester Box,
“A celebration of Manchester’s brilliant independent craft breweries.”
“We wanted to capture the spirit and the vibe of Manchester and the city’s continual defiance in the face of adversity. Manchester has a history of pulling together in dark times and that’s what we wanted to achieve with this box.”
An ideal Christmas gift for any beer lover, or even just someone with a special place in their heart for the rainy city, The Manchester Box is filled with a diverse range of lagers, pale ales and IPAs created in breweries across the region.
Each box contains a total of 12 specially-selected beers (5x 440ml cans and 7x 330ml cans).
Beers from beloved Greater Manchester breweries Alphabet, Beatnikz Republic, Brightside, First Chop, Seven Bro7hers, and Shindigger all proudly feature.
It also comes complete with tasting notes on all of beers featured in the collection as a way to enhance the drinking experience, as well a map with details about the breweries that each of the beers have been crafted in, adding depth to each sip.
And crucially, the purchase of each box directly contributes to small and independent local businesses at a time when they truly need the support more than ever before.
The Manchester Box will set you back just £35 for the full collection.
Hip Flask is currently offering free local delivery to households within eight miles of its premises, and national delivery of £4 or free on orders above £50.
All boxes are expected to be delivered within three working days of the order being placed.
From musician to Manchester’s world-famous physicist | Brian Cox – Manc of the Month September 2022
You could see his distinct and unshakeable smile from space and recognise that softly-spoken voice anywhere. September’s Manc of the Month is none of other than Oldham’s very own Brian Cox.
The world-renowned physicist is the proud holder of an MBE and an acclaimed member of the Royal Society Fellowship whose fascinating but accessible work in science and particle physics, specifically, has seen him become a beloved TV personality and pop-culture icon.
Brian Cox: the physicist and celebrity astronomer
He’s been a familiar face on our TV screens for over a decade now. From Wonders of the Universe and Wonders of Life to Forces of Nature, Stargazing Live and more, Brian Cox has helped bring the world of science to millions watching at home.
His TV appearances aren’t just limited to documentaries though. He’s been on everything from late-night talk shows and Dr Who to becoming one of the very few Brits to appear on the controversial Joe Rogan’s podcast. He truly is the Carl Sagan of the 21st century.
The 54-year-old might share his name with another familiar TV face, but there’s no mistaking his quiet yet captivating ruminations for anyone else. Have you ever ever heard him explain time?
Speaking of podcasts, his award-winning show, The Infinite Monkey Cage Podcast – co-hosted by comedian Robin Ince – is now into its 24th series and has become one of the most successful audio series not just in the UK but on podcast platforms across the globe.
The informative but entertaining concept has become a live show and has featured special guests such as astronomy colleague Neil deGrasse Tyson, Sarah Pascoe, Eric Idle and many, many more.
The former musician
Though many people will have seen his face on the box or heard him on the radio in the past decade or so, there are plenty that are still unaware he has been on the airwaves long before he was the science guy.
Yes, that’s right, before he was Britain’s favourite brainbox, Mr Brian Cox was a rather successful musician in not one but two bands throughout the mid to late 80s and well into the 90s.
First came Dare, a rock band formed in his native town of Oldham by former Thin Lizzy keyboardist, Darren Wharton; they went on to record two albums during his time in the band. Look out for the guy in the back.
Beginning his studies shortly after, he then took another run at music fame by joining pop-rock and dance outfit D:Ream in 1993. Having contributed on two albums, the group eventually disbanded in 1997 playing with them until 1997 and he began his journey to becoming an instantly recognisable pop physicist.
Cox had already secured a first in physics from his alma mater back in 1995 and in 1998, not long after leaving the music biz, he got his PhD in High Energy Particle Physics for his work at the Hadron Elektron Ring Anlage (HERA) in Hamburg.
An academic through and through
All that being said, his various entertainment exploits have never stopped him from making a direct impact on the world of academia, as he remains a Professor of Particle Physics in the School of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Manchester, running courses every year.
During the pandemic, specifically, he also did his part to keep students, kids and those stuck at home in general engaged with his Lockdown Learning and Lecture series. Very cool and very digestible; we might be back to walking free and learning normally but they’re still well worth giving a watch.
Just a year before he was made a lecturer at UoM in 2005, Brian even had the privilege of working on the Large Hadron Collider at CERN in Switzerland (you know, the Big Bang machine), acting as a senior physicist and co-spokesperson for a key research and development project between 2004 and 2009.
He played an important role in the ATLAS experiment which is still running and investigating everything from the Higgs Boson particle discovered in 2012, to dark matter and even alternate dimensions. In case it wasn’t abundantly clear at this point, the bloke is very smart.
It’s not an exaggeration when we say Brian has already done a lot for both UK and global science, especially in helping bring it further into the public eye. But more importantly for us Mancunians, he’s continued to be an active and important presence in the 0161 area.
As well as continuing to lecture hundreds of domestic students at the university that helped launch his career, his international and celebrity appeal draws thousands of applicants from all over the world to the Russell Group institution every year.
Moreover, his ‘Brian Cox: Horizons’ World Tour – which expands on his intellectual, highly entertaining and often comedic lecture format with an immersive audio-visual experience – came to Manchester earlier this week, much to the delight of his fans.
Taking the stage in front of thousands of people at massive arenas like the AO, he and podcast partner Ince dive deeper into astronomy and cosmology in a way that brings you closer to some of the most mind-boggling concepts in the universe.
Better still, even amidst a world tour, he somehow managed to find the time to speak to global news outlets on the biggest news in science, such as the stunning new images captured by the James Webb Space Telescope.
He is a jack of all trades, absolutely everywhere and best of all, he’s been helping put smart Mancs on the map for years now.
It may be long overdue but Brian Cox, you are our Manc of the Month.
Siam Smiles, the authentic Thai cafe on a Manchester backstreet
When Siam Smiles was still a little cafe in a Chinatown supermarket it received serious rave reviews. Since moving up to Deansgate Mews, however, it seems to have been forgotten about a little.
Most famously described as “the most exciting thing to happen since the days of the Hacienda” by Marina O’Loughlin in a 2014 review for The Guardian, owner May also made headlines for teaching herself to cook on Youtube after her chef left the business one month after opening.
National critics, like O’Loughin and others, were seemingly drawn in by the cafe’s novelty – not one review missed the opportunity to mention the supermarket, or tell you how the ingredients in the dishes were often the same as the ones on the shelves.
But since it has moved over to The Mews, an oft-forgotten back street within the Great Northern Warehouse complex, the reviews have gone suspiciously quiet – so we thought we’d pop in to see if it’s all still up to scratch.
Spoiler alert, it definitely is.
Two years after that rave review from O’Loughlin, rising bills forced the cafe to close – but with a little help, May reopened in 2016 at the Great Northern Warehouse. It’s here that you’ll still find her cooking up a storm today.
With bills firmly on the rise once again, we thought we’d pop in to shine a light on this longstanding Mancunian gem and are happy to report her food hasn’t faltered one iota.
We went for stir fried chicken Pad Ka Paow with jasmine rice and a fried egg, and a steaming bowl of KuiiTiwe Moo Nam Tok with fresh egg noodles and roasted duck breast, with two glasses of Singha on the side.
We also couldn’t help but opt for a hearty portion of green papaya salad with dried shrimps, a dish that’s hard to find but something of a speciality here, as well as a second glass noodle salad with plump prawns and minced pork.
The dressings, always made by May herself, completely hit the spot with their balance of hot, sour, salty and sweet.
We strongly recommend you pop in and show Siam Smiles some love. It’s not all just about the shiny new restaurants, after all. We need to treasure the veterans too – and this is one we need to protect at all costs.
Find the cafe on Deansgate Mews Unit G Upper Level ,Great Northern, 253, Deansgate, Manchester M3 4EN.