Burst tank at brewery floods street with beer

A burst beer tank led to waterfalls of wort cascading from the roof of a brewery and spilling into the streets of Manchester.

The leak happened at J.W. Lees’ Greengate Brewery on Tuesday, as reported by the Manchester Evening News. 

The incident was caused by a malfunctioning keg at the brewery, which overflowed and sent torrents of wort – the sugary liquid extracted from the mashing process during the brewing of beer – spilling from the sky.

A spokesman for J.W. Lees said it wasn’t a major incident and that no one was hurt.

He added that many of the brewery’s employees weren’t even aware the incident had happened.

Click here to see a video of the incident, captured by Paul Beadle.

J.W. Lees, in Midleton, Greater Manchester, opened its Greengate Brewery in 1828 – 14 years after the notorious great beer flood of London.


While nowhere near the similar in scale, this week’s incident is a reminder of that notable incident.

In 1814 London’s Tottenham Court Road was flooded with over one million litres of beer when the vats from a local porter brewery gave way.

The vats belonged to the Meux and Company Brewery, a major supplier of porter-style beers in the area, at its Horse Shoe Brewery on the corner of Tottenham Court Road and Oxford Street.

On 17 October 1814, a vat containing 3,550 barrels of fermenting beer ruptured, causing a domino effect, knocking the cocks out of another huge vat and smashing many hogsheads.

In total some 323,000 gallons (1.4m litres) of porter rushed out into the street in a tidal wave weighing several hundred tons and around 15 feet high, destroying two homes and badly damaging the nearby Tavistock Arms pub.

The surrounding area of St Giles parish was flooded, with many of the fatalities occurring in cellars where people lived, with residents trapped and drowned. Seven to eight people died, all women and children, including a teenage girl who worked at the Tavistock Arms.

Incredibly, no one in the brewery was killed by the accident, although several were badly injured.

The brewery was taken to court but the judge and jury ruled it an Act of God and no one was prosecuted. Parliament fined the company over £20,000 but Meux & Co successfully petitioned to be let off paying £7,250 in excise duty which saved it from bankruptcy.


The brewery in around 1830

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