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Bitter Taste Of Victory

Confidential talks common sense and Manchester Art Gallery actions it

Written by . Published on September 26th 2011.

Bitter Taste Of Victory

IN March this year our Sleuth columnist got angry (click here).

He went along to the launch of the Anish Kapoor Exhibition in Manchester Art Gallery and found what he called ‘a classic modern hypocrisy’.

Strong character impresses people, is good for investment and puts money back into local companies such as Marble.

He wrote: ‘Milburns operate the catering at the Gallery, they are owned by catering monsters Compass. Milburns – find a menu, look at it - have a policy of ‘local sourcing’. Seems they cast their net pretty wide when deciding what’s local. About 200 miles wide. The beer on offer at the opening event was Fuller’s London Pride. Yet Greater Manchester has more than 20 breweries, including four major family breweries.

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‘Sleuth was more than a little angry, not in a provincial way, but because what is the point of all this game-playing if a defining product such as ale is ignored when, a) it is stronger here than anywhere else in the country and, b) it is so easily available. It also leads to the question as to why aren’t our tourist authorities seeking out attractions such as Manchester Art Gallery and advising them on the products the region has that would help boost the area’s profile, give it identity and character - build the brand so to speak. Having Fuller’s London Pride as the beer of choice is both lazy and hypocritical in the venue's desire for 'local sourcing'.

‘It hints at a wider problem of a lack of joined up thinking in the way Manchester’s tourist attracting bodies work. This might seem a minor point but it has big implications. We should promote Manchester distinctiveness at every turn.’

To their credit the response from the offenders was quick.

‘Manchester Art Gallery does work with our catering partner to source products locally for the gallery cafe and events. Our black pudding is from Bury and all our other meat and any bread and cakes not made on the premises are from suppliers based within a few miles of the gallery. However, fair point about the beer! We're meeting with our regional catering manager next week to identify a suitable local supplier.’

And now they’ve found one.

At the launch of the Ford Madox Brown blockbuster exhibition last week at Manchester Art Gallery, Sleuth was overjoyed to see the serried ranks of Marble Arch’s Manchester Bitter lining the shelves and tables.

Ross Twiname, the restaurant manager, told Sleuth, “You were right to point out that London Pride was inappropriate, so we’re really pleased to have found a local brewer to work with. To be selling Manchester bitter feels much better.”

Proof, indeed, that the therapeutic nature of ale doesn’t necessarily simply depend on alcoholic content. The pies and fish and chips at the launch were spot on too.

Manchester Bitter And Bla Bla 002

Sleuth hopes that Manchester Art Gallery’s response will encourage others to do the same. At every turn people should be encouraged to promote regional identity and character. Strong character impresses people, is good for investment and puts money back into local companies such as Marble.

Well done Manchester Art Gallery.

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James SpencerOctober 20th 2011.

Surely London Pride was good enough to celebrate the navvies in Hampstead

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