Manchester and Leeds are more often seen as ‘best of rivals’ rather than ‘best of friends’.

The two cities are close enough for each to keep a close eye on what the other’s doing, but firmly separated by the physical barrier provided by the Pennines.

So, the fact a Leeds brewery has helped to brew the official beer of Manchester Beer Week - which will be available at more than 60 Co-op stores across the region - is bound to raise eyebrows in some quarters.

The Yorkshire city’s best-known and most highly-respected modern brewery, Northern Monk, has collaborated with Manchester’s oldest brewery, JW Lees, to create a special one-off brew for the city-wide festival, which runs from June 29 to July 8.

It's an unexpected union but one designed to showcase the strength of the North’s beer scene, highlighting both its rich heritage and its ability to adapt and innovate.

Although Manchester Beer Week's main focus, inevitably, is Manchester itself, the organisers have also worked hard to celebrate those people doing great things throughout the beer industry in the UK and beyond. Northern Monk certainly fit that mould, having left an indelible mark on this country's beer scene in just five years.

They combine ambition with unbounded creativity and a sense of pride grounded not only in their northern location but also the wider creative community they have taken their place within. Their Patrons Project, for example, was set up to foster collaboration, creativity and community between artists, athletes and creatives across the North.

But, while Northern Monk focus on bold, uncompromising flavour, JW Lees emphasise time-honoured tradition and a commitment to maintaining core Mancunian values. Established in 1828 by John Lees himself, the brewery has become famous for faithful interpretations of classic styles, with the likes of Moonraker, Manchester Star and Harvest Ale standing out as examples of traditional recipes tweaked for modern times.

However, this approach hasn’t stopped them from acknowledging the rapid change occuring around them and the opening of a new, experimental microbrewery on their Greengate site highlights a willingness to embrace changing attitudes to beer.

Since collaboration has always been a vital element of the Manchester Beer Week's ethos, the opportunity to bring together these two breweries, these two differing approaches and these two great cities was too good to refuse.

The greater aim of this beer is not only to emphasise the current strength of the North's brewing scene but also to point out the potential for it to continue growing through a collaborative approach.

Importantly, the beer aims to capture the different backgrounds of the two breweries by drawing on important characteristics from each. Named Summer Pale Ale, this limited-edition brew uses Northern Monk's core pale ale Faith as its main reference point, aiming to pack a fruity punch from the use of New World hops Citra and Mosaic. But it is fermented using JW Lees’ 4,904th-generation yeast to provide a distinctive, traditional character.

Pale-coloured and coming in at 5.1% ABV, it should be the ideal beer to suit the sunny Manchester summer.

As part of Co-op’s sponsorship of Manchester Beer Week, bottles will be exclusively available at more than 60 of the Manchester-based retailer’s stores across the region. The beer will also be available on cask and keg at participating venues throughout Manchester Beer Week.

Simon Dryell, head of local sourcing at the Co-op, explained: "We are delighted to partner with Manchester Beer Week. Locally brewed ale is an exciting category, where we can see continued sustainable growth as craft ale followers look for something that tastes different, while retaining the passion, history and tradition that goes into brewing quality ales. As a community retailer, the Co-op is committed to investing in its local communities, providing what our members and customers want, when and where they need it, and exploring new ways to showcase, celebrate and support great quality locally produced food and drink."

To mark the return of Manchester Beer Week, we’re offering you the chance to win tickets to a couple of the festival’s key events. Head over here to enter!

For more on what's on, take a look at these Manchester Beer Week listings.