no. 005 | Track
What started as a cycle across North America escalated to a round-the-world ride and, eventually, Track Brewing Co.
Visit Track Brewing Co.’s Manchester taproom today and you’ll find around 16 breweries within a square mile of where you stand. However, there was a time, back when Sam Dyson was setting it up in 2014, that craft beer was still new to Manchester and much of the UK.
The idea for Track was formed by Sam whilst on two wheels. Having left university, he felt uninspired by the job he found himself in and so in 2008 Dyson made the decision to leave his role and the UK to cycle 4,600 miles across North America. It was here that he had his eyes opened to what was, in the UK at least, still a new style of beer:
“In almost every place I stopped, I’d be confronted with beers I’d just never seen or tasted before. Sometimes that would be in breweries, but even in convenience stores I just remember picking up these piney, resinous, crisp, clean beers and thinking ‘I’ve never tasted anything like this’”.
Increasingly seeking out these breweries and taprooms as he pedalled across the US, Sam was also taken by their sense of community: “it was clearly an industry focused on sharing something that is connecting people, and I loved that about it”.
The idea was percolating, but Sam had caught the cycling bug and spent the next two and a half years cycling through South America, Australia, New Zealand and Europe before returning to the UK to bring it to life.
Initially exploring sites in London, the stars didn’t quite align and so Sam took a role at Camden Town Brewery, becoming one of the first members of their brewing team. London was fast becoming the epicentre of UK craft brewing, and so Dyson also took the opportunity to spend time with and learn from the likes of The Kernel. But unable to shake the unassailable itch to go out on his own, he returned to Manchester and secured a small loan to set-up Track:
“I’m from Chester originally and was up visiting my sister when it dawned on me – Manchester is such a big city. A cultural centre in its own right, it felt right and so I headed home”.
And he wasn’t alone. In fact, Cloudwater were setting up their brewery round the corner at the same time and, one evening, whilst Sam was assembling his cold store alone, the team poked their heads in asking if he needed a hand. This began a close relationship between the brewers which continues to this day. Alongside numerous collaborative beers, they have also shared a pop-up shop and taproom together, and more recently have become neighbours on the same Manchester trading estate.
Whether the can design, the beer's name, or the contents that reside inside, Sam and the team at Track always aim to remain creative in their approach. Stefan Melbourne, Track's Sales & Events Manager, has been working alongside Sam since the early days of Track and so has seen how things have evolved:
"Initially, the names and designs were inspired by all the places that Sam had visited on his journey, but we've brewed over 150 different beers now and so have had to start getting that bit more imaginative!"
For Sam, Stefan and the entire Track team, the journey continues apace. As a small, dedicated team and an independent brewery, they truly care about what they do and are continually reinvesting both time and money into the growth of the brewery.
"Every day's a lesson here and there's rarely a moment where you can stop and think 'This is going well'", says Stefan. "You have to think be focused and ready for something to go wrong at any time, but that's what keeps it exciting".
Track's beautiful taproom and brewery feels a long way from the two small tanks in an arch under a railway station and reflects their refusal (or perhaps their inability) to stand still. Their beers continue to grow in popularity across the UK and beyond, and 2022 sees them preparing to begin a new barrel ageing project. This will allow them to utilise seasonal ingredients during the process to create a new line of exciting beers.
However, Sam's initial vision remains at the core of everything that leaves the brewery:
"When we started seven years ago we were a relatively inexperienced team and there's been a lot of tinkering and learning along the way. However, our main aim has always been to make incredible drinkable, delicious beers".
There's no doubt the team are incredibly skilled in doing this and we hope you enjoy our chosen selection.
Track Brewing Co. also host a podcast called The Thirst Time. Taking a deep dive into that first beer that changed everything for some of the most creative, boundary-pushing people in the beer industry, it's well worth a listen. We'd recommend starting with this episode with Track's founder, Sam. It's an inspiring listen that offers an even richer insight into Track's journey so far. Listen here.