7 Hand Drying Situations in 7 Pubs in 1 Day

People always enquire why I have a small obsession with hand dryers.

They do, honest.

And I feel I have so much more to offer.

A toilet is a very humours subject for use, it is one on the thing that binds all humans (and animals) together.  Some see it as taboo.

There are few things in life I find offensive, one of those is people that can’t be bothered to wash their hands after visiting the W.C.

So as part of the Allgates ‘Road to Wigan Beer’ Beer Festival cum Pub crawl I had the opportunity to reflect on how different pubs accommodate those that wish to have clean hands.

Clean hands are dry hands.

Of course I should point out that merely touching the toilet door handle makes all hand cleaning mute, but its a placebo.

Just to be clear, all the pubs are great and this is not a grading of the toilet facilities, merely the hand drying situations I encountered.

So at Crooke Hall Inn we have the ever effective paper towels + bin.

In The Anvil they have the daddy that is the Airforce – sod your Dysons.

The Hare & Hounds also has paper towels and a bin and a bit of quirk I’ll get back too later.

Walking into The Victoria and you are greeted with one of the crap white Warner-Howard models, the silver ones are ok, the white are diabolical.

The Union Arms has one that is out of order. A handy sign is attached just in case the piece hanging off it wasn’t enough of an indication.  But I will say that from experience this random model is actually fairly effective, even if the hot air stream if far too narrow, thereby increasing drying times.

Out of Order
Out of Order

The Jolly Nailor has an Initial, again the silver models are better than the white ones, but the white ones are still pretty good.

And finally The White Lion has paper towels and a bin.

I can’t stress the importance of a bin for towel waste.  There are some pubs that don’t have bins.  I honestly don’t know what they think will happen to the used towel.  Or maybe the assumption is that people don’t wash their hands so why bother drying them.

Anyway the quirky thing at Hare & Hounds was the presence above the sink of a framed bit of cloth towel. Maybe someone can expand on the significance, if there is any.

With winter around the corner and the Norovirus sure to hit the headlines and our guts in the coming weeks I hope that the few of you out there that read this think twice before shaking off the drips and walking out and instead take an additional minute wash & dry your hands.

Of course if the facilities non-existent then your own trousers can be just as effective.

And, of course, never eat open bar snacks.

The Road to Wigan Beer – The Allgates Brewery Beer Festival/Pub Crawl 2013

This event took place between the 3rd – 13th October, over 7 pubs.

If memory serves, this event took place earlier in about March of 2013, but as it stands I went to all 7 magnificent pubs over a very drawn out 12-hour period of drinking and commuting on Saturday 12 October 2013, this was the 3rd and final of my ‘3 different beer festivals over 3 days’ extravaganza.

Take ‘took place’ with a pinch of salt because Allgates pubs regularly rotate guest ales – from a drinkers perspective (especially cask) they are a dream, while the ‘Road to Wigan Beer’ might not be officially ‘on’ any more, the chance of doing your own pub crawl to all 7 is a yearly event of your own making – just plan ahead – and don’t try and walk it or rely on First Bus if you wish to keep relatively sane.

This review will be as much about the pubs as the beers, which I suppose is the crux of the actual festival.

Now if you follow my Twitter feed, you may be aware I spend a good portion of my rants going off on Northern Rail.  This Saturday though (and if I’m being honest most weekends, shame they have to mess my working week about so much) they were faultless.  Which leaves me sad it can never run this smoothly for at least one week, five continuous days of return journeys. There, the most backhanded, caveat laced compliment I can give to them.

Getting in to Gathurst station sometime around 12.30pm, it was a mere stroll down to the canal, passing a man with a hawk – I shit you not, I wish I’d got a picture, but if ever you’ve seen a better omen to the start of a long day I welcome you up the ante.

The Way to Crooke Hall Inn
The Way to Crooke Hall Inn

6 minutes by bike to the 1st pub The Crooke Hall Inn which means for my pace a leisurely 15 minutes on foot. Oddly the sign pointing the way back to Gathurst suggests its 10 minutes by bike.

I can only assume the sign makers added 4 minutes on for the alcohol induced staggering that may be one consequence of visiting Crooke.

Crooke Hall Inn
Crooke Hall Inn

What a glorious site. It screams England in every utopian sense of nationalistic pride even I get once in a while. Even the weather held all day.

I started off the day with Bexar Brewery and their Texan Pecan Coffee Mild (3.9%) and this probably was tied top drink of the whole trek; dark, smooth and with a good clean flavours of, well, work it out from its name.

Late Knights Brewery also tripped my taste buds with their 3.9% Crack of Dawn  – a pale ale of very good quality.

Crooke Hall Inn is quite lovely, inside and out – and check out this Should of Lamb

Lamb Shoulder
Lamb Shoulder

To all intents and purposes this was actually the worst pub to start the crawl on – I mean, there were about another 4-6 ales on the bar, the food, the location – who’d want to move?

(Distance walked: ~ 2 miles)

Well the bar man did look a bit like Sam Tomkins and being as I’m a Centurions supporter and was a man on a mission I needed to get a-walking, so it was back to the train station (via the pub on the platform for a shandy) and a quick 5mins back to Wigan and to visit The Anvil.

The Anvil, Wigan
The Anvil, Wigan

It was about 2pm and this place was fairly heaving, a proper town centre pub that I’d been in a couple of times before, but some time prior.  As my years have rolled on, this is more the type of pub I like – its very local, but not intimidating – if you’d never been in before, you’d be surprised at what is on offer at the bar.  If you get the train you also walk passed the Allgates Brewery too, which I went up to and pushed my nose against the windows like some kid out of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.

In The Anvil I was served, by a rather pretty bar maid, the Bosuns Whistle (4.3%) from Bosuns Brewing Co. and the Insomniac Stout (4.0%) by The Malthouse Brewery.  The latter was a smooth coffee stout, very nice; the former was a nice hoppy, summery and good representation of a golden ale.

Back on the train for another 3 minute ride and 2 minute walk to The Hare and Hounds in Hindley.

Hare & Hounds, Hindley
Hare & Hounds, Hindley

Another new pub for me and a jolly nice, fairly small boozer.

The small bar surrounded by the locals.

A sign cheerfully telling me to “not be offended if we ask you if you are over 25” is immediately rendered ironic as I’m served by a very pretty girl who looks to be barely in her 20’s.

Here I had the ever excellent Boggart Hole Clough Brewery presenting me with a to be expect excellent Mud Brawler Vanilla (4.4%). A rich, lightly vanillary porter and my joint No.1 of the day.

I was bowled over by the Fubar (4.4%) from Tiny Rebel Brewing Co., (1) because I’d heard a lot about them and (2) because according to the booklet it wasn’t supposed to be in this pub, but I’m not about to get worked up about this welcome surprise which as the notes said, was all over the place with regards taste, but in a good way.

It was then time to leave this lovely little boozer and do THE trek. Disheartened that no buses operated along the route I set out like Captain Oates.

It turned out to be a near 6 mile round trip to The Victoria

The Victoria, Aspull (Haigh Village)
The Victoria, Aspull (Haigh Village)

I got there only to hear them talking about how busy they were last week when Allgates had organised a bus around the 7 pubs and that how all the beer they had got in for the festival had all ready been emptied.

I settled for one of Allgates own Napoleon‘s Retreat (3.9%) which I’ve had and enjoyed before and sat down in the rather large and luxurious village pub contemplating just what I had done and what I was still about to do.

Back on the train to disembark at Atherton (Bent) and walking (1.3 miles) into Tyldesley (Bongs) to visit a pub I’ve been a fair few times called The Union Arms.

Union Arms, Tyldesley (Bongs)
Union Arms, Tyldesley (Bongs)

Full Nelson (3.8%) by Two Roses Brewery was finished off by a man who was in massive need of a light ale and got just that.  A Swift (3.9%) by Trumans Beer was another good stab at a golden ale, as was the Golden Rivet (3.7%) from Bosuns Brewing Co..

Sadly I’d got to The Union just after they’d stopped serving food, but I can tell you then do some great stodge, which has saved my beer days/afternoons/nights out a few times. The pub itself is set on many levels with the bar in the middle and a very good jukebox. Its another welcoming ‘locals’ pub (a theme it would seem).

Now here is were First Bus decide to mess me about. A number 12 service that would have taken me to Atherton and then on to Leigh would make good value even after 8pm for a day saver given the length of bus rides I still had to do, but it merely chose not to turn up.  So walking (1 mile) it was into Atherton to visit another familiar place to me in The Jolly Nailor.

Jolly Nailor, Atherton (Bent)
Jolly Nailor, Atherton (Bent)

The Nailor is a rock pub in the best sense.  A rock pub that is actually clean, late closing, usually with very loud, live music and of course a large range of ales.

By the time I reached here I was flagging, not solely through physical exertion but also the need for another dark ale before I succumbed to a golden ale coma.

Nothing doing with regards dark stuff; a Citrus Burst (5.3%) from Alchemy Brewing Limited certainly perked up the taste buds with a fruity IPA hit, but the real find was again from Bexar Brewery and their Rye (4.0%). An IPA of sorts, but bitter and sweet and red in colour and very, very different.  These people seem like one to hunt out more from.

Another walk to a bus stop and up roles a belated 12 service, but its not going to Leigh, its going back to Manchester.  I’m not walking another step, I can’t, but here comes the 582 which will get me to The White Lion and eventually back home again.

White Lion, Leigh
White Lion, Leigh

As I write this the White Lion is slated to do food on Fridays & Saturdays, but I settled for a few packs of Seabrooks (the best crisps, just) and a fair few beers to celebrated doing all 7 pubs.

The White Lion is another pub I’m familiar with, a middlish-sized pubs full of welcoming locals of every strata, well whatever possible different strata inhabit Leigh.  Here I had a Cockleroy Black IPA (4.8%) from Alchemy Brewing Limited, black IPA’s always flip my head and this was no exception. More stout like (malty) than any other other black IPA I’ve had, so by default its the best I’ve had so far.  The London Particular (4.0%) by Ha’penny Brewing Co. was a red brew full of sweet and malty flavours, and the Star (4.3%) by Portobello Brewing Co. was a good fruity bitter to end the night on.

So there you have it:

15 beers.

7 great pubs.

10 miles walked (give or take)

That’s a walking distance of 5.29e-13 parsecs Star Wars fans.

I was left to finish off the 3 final drinks and read about all the beers I hadn’t had chance to try.

I also resolved to get the sodding Allgates arranged bus next time.

That or hire a chauffeur for the day.

Thanks to all the brewers I got to sample, to all those I sadly didn’t and especially to all at Allgates and all the staff at every pub.

Same time.  Whenever.  Forever.  Our pubs are always there, we just have to use them.

Indy Man Beer Con IMBC 2013

This event took place over the 10th – 13th October 2013.

I attended the ‘late’ session on the Friday.

Entry was £11 – bought some 7 months in advance.

The Indy Man Beer Con or IMBC or Independent Manchester Beer Convention (beer the only word not abbreviated) is now 2 years old. Held at Victoria Baths, this was my second time attending – only do one session per year, cost being most prevailing.

This is from last year, this became Room 1 in 2013 as I’m pretty sure their were only the 3 rooms last year, as I don’t recall a ‘Room 3’ (room with live music) being there last year.

IMCB 2012
IMCB 2012

Maybe it was – but the fact is when you get to Victoria Baths you can’t help but walk around and then sit down and admire the place.

Not just the building and the renovation, but the actual effort gone into hosting the event itself.

IMBC 2012 Later On
IMBC 2012 Later On

Why am I posting 2012 pictures with no comparison to this years event?

Because my pictures are crap and can not do this place justice.

To be honest, the place seemed quieter this year – I base this on two rather big things :

1) Very little waiting time to use the loo.

2) Very little waiting time to get some food.

Whether this was a facet of more rooms or more days, or less people per session I don’t know. It isn’t really important.

Ah yes, the food – as much a part of IMBC as the alcohol itself.  Street food if wish to call it by its current trendy incarnation, overly expensive certainly, but nothing can be faulted in this place as regards being a most welcome change to burgers and chips.

Even if the pretentiousness of the occasion is always in your face, I suppose it is trying to find a niche in amongst a plethora of self-conscious, self-regarding dandies that currently pass for youth these days. But the clientele that make up the current ‘craft’ beer ‘revolution’ is a massive subject I’m currently lazing over.

This review is about the food, the beer, the event.

I had the Great Northern Pie Co. Ox cheek pie (with a lot more ingredients inside) with potato gravy (blitzed mash) and pea vinegar.  You have to taste it because I can’t explain it, it just worked.

The Moocher also busted out some kind of chilli rabbit wrap. The cold salad off setting the wonderful and nicely spiced meat.

So much on offer, so little time, so little room in the digestive tract – this counts double for the beer.

To digress a while more – what really does set the festival apart from the rest is the chance to go to one of the events, tasting with brewers themselves, meeting them, debating with others. I went to the Sour Seminar hosted by the Lovibonds one man army that is Jeff Rosenmeier.

My review of that event and Sour Beers (Henley Gold (not sour), Sour Grapes, Magic Rock Dark Arts) in general can be found here

IMBC 2013 - The Pencil
IMBC 2013 – The Pencil

Look, you get a pencil on entry – a writing implement is always very important.

The glass is for 1/3 only – the beer to be honest is expensive for some on the things considering you only get 1/3, but square it with how often you are likely to get to drink it anywhere else.

Thornbridge Brewery had brought along a very, very good Barrel Aged Beadeca’s Well (5.3%). Rich and smoky.

I too also fell foul of the Quantum Brewery Imperial Treacle Stout (8.6%). There appears to be a lot of treacle stout around at the moment. Its a flavour that works well any dark brew and this was no exception. The taste and feel belies the strength of the drink.

Marble Brewery had brought along their 125 Barley Wine (10.7%). Sweet and delicious, this was a nice birthday treat for the Marble Arch’s 125th birthday this year.

Northern Monk Brewery Co. had collaborated with Allgates to produce the 8.2% (though curiously advertised as 9.7%) Northern Gates.  This tasted every bit as strong as it was, but in that good way that makes you drink it slower and appreciate the depths of its flavours more.

Italian beers were represented in my tasting by Birra Del Borgo and their Genziana (6.2%) and ReAle (6.4%) – both were sweet, with the former tasting of apples but the later had the more rounded flavours for my palate.

Also from Italy was Ambrosia (4.5%) by Toccalmatto – Italians must like their beers sweet, this was very nice, very similar to a white beer.

Arbour Ales seemed to have created a bit of a fuss with their Breakfast Stout (7.4%), even the bar staff kept raving on about it.  Oats, coffee, full and wholesome.  Someone remarked it was a meal in a glass, and even at a 1/3 it was most filling and satisfying.

Liverpool Craft Beer Co. treated my to a taste of their Black Fox (6.5%). This was a very good beer, but sadly this feel foul of the keg cold syndrome that I feel can negate a dark beer’s characteristics more than it does for the lighter ones. Something to find on cask to enjoy fully I feel.

This brings me to my two favourite beers of the night.

Black Jack Brewery and their Blackberry King of Clubs (7.2%) – and if ever I could lovingly punch someone for making such a nice beer so strong it would be this one. Indeed a King of brews.

Wild Beer Co. and their offering of Ninkasi (9%) my also await the same fate as the brewers of Black Jack. This was too smooth, too drinkable, too fucking dangerous.

I leave IMBC always with a sense of never having tried enough.  Not enough food, not enough beer, not enough of the venue, not enough of the chatter.

This place really does beg you to go for more than one session.

And that was IMBC – a place that is trying to be a different beer festival, and in many, many obvious ways it is.  But in many, many ways it is also the same and this is to do with how people are when they get together with like-minded people and share a massive common bond. Generations may separate the drinking cultures of Britain, but the goal is roughly the same.

Like Kirk and Picard.

Thanks to all involve in the set-up, bar service, food service, talks, etc.

Same time next year, for more than one session.

Bolton Beer Festival 2013

This event took place between 9th – 12th October 2013.

I went on the Thursday (10th) – the first of my ‘3 different beer festivals over 3 days’ quest. The Preamble can be found here.

It takes place on Bolton Rugby Club and raises funds for Bolton Lads & Girls Club.

Tokens were in sheets of £6 or £12, getting you 10 or 20 tokens respectively.  Individual tokens could also be purchased for those irritating little left overs.

It was £5 entry, which got you a nice glass and a very plush booklet, even featuring a description of difference beer types and a ‘How to taste beer section’.

The was a huge range of cask beers, along with draught and bottle beers from around the world.

The beers were organised in alphabetical order and also numbered, which helps both customer and server from any confusion over beer and brewery names.

The tokens are crossed out with markers, the measures were 1/2 and pint – though there was no actual 1/2 marker, which leads to so very generous servings, especially if some of the staff look like they are actual punters who’ve leapt over the bar to lend a hand.

The food is virtually non existent, the toilets are porta-cabins, the place itself is a massive tent, heated by things that look like they’ve fallen off something Tom Cruise would fly in a massively gay 80’s movie.

Beers in alphabetical order, of which many were local and a great many were Scottish:

Bank Top Brewery brought along a Sweeney’s (3.8%) which had the smell of brackish water but tasted perfectly fine for a standard bitter.

Blackedge Brewing Company had provided a new one of theirs to me, the Dark Rum (4.6%) a heavy stout, full of malts and liquorice flavour, but I didn’t detect any rum. Good stout either way.

This was in contrast to the Darkside Stout (4.6%) by Brightside Brewing which was your light kind of stout, almost like flat pop, with coffee and chocolate tastes. My kind of dark drink really.

Brewed Awakening (4.7%) by Cromarty Brewery was a massively coffee stout and I mean massive coffee.  The most coffeeiest stout I’ve ever had. Rather nice.

Harviestoun Brewery had brought a ‘craft beer’ called Schiehallion (4.8%) which had good, light hop flavour and was almost lager like.

Orkney Blast (6.0%) from Highland Brewing Co was a big drink, hopey and fruity, you knew what you were drinking was above average abv.

Slainte (4.3%) by Houston Brewery was my last drink of the night, and a nice simple ale to end the night.

Isle of Skye Brewery had brought along their ‘Supreme champion beer of Scotland’ in Cuillin Beast (4.7%) and a very good, smooth drink it was too.

When the number system pays off was with a Caer Edin Dark Ale (4.2%) the type font of the booklet made it even harder to read, by Kinneil Brew House which my notes say was ‘typcially celtic’. This is a positive term, even if it did smell odd.

A fine bit of strategy and the power of twitter came into its marketing own next. As I’d tweeted that I was at the Bolton Beer Bash, I picked up a follower Matt Holmes from Ramsbottom Craft Brewery, which basically made my mind up to chose, out of a list of 209 cask beers for the Chocolate Porter (4.4%). To be fair I would have gotten to it eventually solely based on the name, but this spurred me on more so and boy was it a good brew. Sweet, chocolatey – everything you’d want if you were a porter fan, even if you aren’t too keen on the chocolate flavour.

Spey Stout (5.4%) from Spey Valley was a toffee smelling but nicely bitter, lighter stout.

From Windswept Brewing Co was The Boy Who Cried Wolf (4.6%) a nice, fairly strong bitter.

And finally from XT Brewing Company came the XT13 Pacific Red (4.5%) which was actually my first beer of the night, but the closest barrel to the ticket stand. A red ale that my notes simply describe as “Good”.

Thanks to all the servers and organisers.

Sour Beers, hhhhmmmm

This is the average tongue and the areas of taste.


I really know fuck all about brewing techniques, it is something I’m fascinated by and could listen to people wax lyrical about for hours, but the finer points of tasting are beyond my knackered tongue.

I know what I like and I know what I don’t like.

I know what tastes good to me might taste like ‘ashtrays’ to some of my drinking circle.

If I can tell you one thing about Sour Beers it is that there is most definitely a border across the middle my tongue, that when drinking a sour beer, nothing is tasted from that line to the back of my throat.

Its as if some small tribe of taste bud work men erected a diversion because some tongue renewal works over ran and all other flavours were diverted away to the pits of my stomach.

This isn’t a bad thing. It is all very new to me.

Onomatopoeic-ally for me though, it is currently an hhhhmmmm thing.

So you know, hhhhmmmm is way above Meh, but not MMMMmmmmm.

Where Meh is indifference of the worst kind and MMMMmmmmm is the tasty of tastes; hhhhmmm is for something I want to like it, I do like it to some extent and while it isn’t rocking my world, I’m appreciating the work and research going into it.

A previous Friday I was in Knott Bar in Manchester and chanced upon RedWillow Brewery Faithless XVI Gooseberry Sour (3.6%) description lovingly sellotaped (other sticky tapes are available) on the pump by means of a felt tip written paper note, which also had the word Saison as part of the descriptor (something nicely cleared up by the brewer, Toby McKenzie on Twitter (other social media sites are available)).

It of course smelt sour. A smell I would instinctively take back to the bar after 1 or 2 cautious tastes and then pass around my associates so they can share in the taste misery before I get an alternative drink.

But the taste was indeed that of gooseberry.

I don’t trust fruit with fur, but much like my constant trepidation with coffee, I’m more than fine with things that taste of these things, that are made from/of these products, but aren’t solely 100% coffee or gooseberry.

Still, I enjoyed my half with the same amount of vigour I treat anything I’m trying for the first time.

I could have finished off that sentence with some obvious smutty innuendos, but you can make your own up.

Roll on to the Indy Man Beer Con and the Magic Rock Brewing Dark Arts Soured in Bruichladdich with Raspberries (6%).  This was again exciting the sour taste buds, again the fruit flavour came through, again it was too fucking cold from the keg.

My lambic obsessed acquaintance had convinced me to sign up for the Sour Seminar (above the other talks on offer) which would be hosted by Jeff Rosenmeier of Lovibonds.

What followed was a massively entertaining near 60 minutes of 3 beer tastings & good humour and a little education about the souring beer process (and all for an additional £3).

We were treated to the Henley Gold (4.6%) which is another bollock for the Wheat Beer dog.

This was followed up by the Sour Grapes (5.4%) something I understand was derived from Henley Gold but I could be totally making that up.  Lambic buddy remarked it had an after taste of corn tortilla chips. It was the most sour of the 3 beers I’d had up to that point.

The piece de resistance though was the final drink taster on offer, something that I didn’t make a single sodding note on but that I did enjoy very much (possibly a mix of Henley Gold and a more matured/soured beer? I never said I was any good at this).

I enjoyed it but not as much as Lambic pal who appeared to be having a multiple orgasm, but trying to repress it in a room of 40+ people, especially when you’ve got Dave Grohl sat in front of you, someone who regularly crops up on my twitter time-line moonlighting as head brewer of Quantum Brewing and going by the pseudonym Jay Krause.

(On a personal note, stick to the brewing because its all good from Quantum, whereas Foo Fighters’ output has been massively on the wane since “All My Life”)

To repeat, I know fuck all, I just taste and report (while hopefully not jizzing in my pants).

Jeff is a top bloke, someone I said could sell me my own piss because he was so infectious and enthusiastic. This was a short sell, he could probably make my skin not crawl when I hear the word craft.

So my own jury is still out on sour beers, but I welcome any form of experimentation and evolution.  And if anything, writing this piece it gives me the chance to use Lactobacillus as a tag.

3 Very Different Beer Festival in 3 Days – The Preamble

This is my stop gap, buying me time to actually write up all three festivals and the beer consumed and the general feeling of attending all 3.

Here is a poor, lo-res photo of each festival guide.

3 Beer Festivals 3 Days
3 Beer Festivals 3 Days

First up for me was the Bolton Beer Bash, attended on Thursday 10th of October 2013, at Bolton Rugby Club, I can’t tell you how many there have been of these, but I’m fairly sure I’ve been to at least 5, I should go and count my glasses.

All in aid of Bolton Lads and Girls Club, this is your more traditional ale festival, held in a big tent, with a choice of cask beers & ciders and foreign bottles, and some rather unconvincing food that I have still yet to try. Review Here

Next up on Friday 11th October 2013, at Victoria Baths, was the 2nd (and also my 2nd), Independent Manchester Beer Convention (IndyMan, IMBC). Featuring cask and keg beers and the Moss Cider Project Stall and a vast array of food. Plus, the clincher for me, talks by brewers for around the globe. Review Here

Finally over a very, very long Saturday 12th October 2013, was the Allgates ‘The Road To Wigan Beer’ Festival (the 2nd one?).  A festival spread out over the breweries 7 pubs with 100+ beers on offer (it started on the 3rd and went till the 14th). So in essence also a massively long pub crawl over the borough of Wigan. Taking in all manner of different pubs (obviously), clientele, hand dryers, some very dodgy bus services and many, many miles walked (still to be calculated). Review Here

All 3 very different – all 3 ended up being rather special, for a variety of different reasons.

I’ll hope to have my reviews out by the end of the week and most likely in chronological order.

The 3rd MOSI (Manchester Museum of Science & Industry) Beer Festival

This event took place over the 26th – 28th September 2013.

The previous two years had seen this event take place in the March, but when it didn’t occur this year I was aware some decide to do a mini-crawl for fear of its demise.  Joyously this was not the case, whether September is now its permanent fixture remains to be seen.

There is something about attending an inaugural event that as it continues into an annual event it gets a bit more special each time.  It is something to mark in each new diary (or today’s modern equivalent) and possibly may even start leading into booking holidays off work.

A bit much for a beer festival, but such is the love for a setting and beer that why not try and make every session, or at least every day?

The Power Hall at MOSI is something to behold.  The great, overbearing architecture at Leeds Beer Festival and the marvellous erm, post-Victorian (?) settings and renovation skill on display in the Victoria baths for the upcoming (Independent Manchester) IndyMan Beer Convention are fantastic venues.  But you get the feeling that buildings and paintings are, well, too static.  Granted the great engines and locomotives barely move in the Power Hall, but its the idea that they can and sometimes do (or at least did) that makes this setting my favourite of the non-hall based beer festivals.

So, Brain exhibition studied, cross the cobbles to a £5 entry, a glass (which you can pay £3 on leaving to keep)* and beer tokens in denominations of £5 and £10 which are crossed off with marker pens.

Now I’ll get the slightly bad out of the way first.  I feel that food is of vital importance at events like this. Be it the street food of the up-and-coming and dare I say youth-driven beer festivals or the good and proper stodge of the more traditional types, there should always be something for sale to soak up the booze.

This was the case at MOSI; a choice of a meat or vegetable based stew with red cabbage and a bread roll for 5p short of  £5.  Needs must – but they ran out at 8pm, they only started selling at 6pm (opened at 5pm) and it finished at 10.30pm. Over 2 hours without food is a massive under estimation of the sustenance people require. Tsk, Tsk.

The beer – in alphabetical order:

Blackjack Pokies (3.6%) a good straight forward ale if every there was one, in sharp contrast to the Weird Wit (5%) a collaboration with Weird Beard the programme felt the need to almost warn that it was ‘naturally cloudy’ but that is by-the-by, this was a very good IPA that I enjoyed immensely. As a complete aside one of my circle suggested it smelt of pork sausage meat. I didn’t think so, but combining meat with beer could be a winner, much like this Weird Wit was.

Brightside had brewed the MOSI 30 (4%) for the MOSI’s 30th birthday, and a worthy drink it was.  Another good IPA, but if I’m honest I preferred their Maverick (4.8%), which comes highly recommended from the mainly lager drinkers from my group, which I always think is high praise indeed.

Dunham Massey beers sampled were the Green Hop (4.1%) and Porter (5.2%), both good examples of a bitter (former) and Porter (the latter, if you couldn’t figure it out).

Fool Hardy Ales had brought along a best bitter called Reckless (5%) and that it was, probably my best bitter of the night, in the traditional sense.

I say that because Fuzzy Duck had also brought along a best bitter called Tangerine Duck (4.4%) which did have the perfect subtle hint of oranges to not detract from the bitter style of the drink.

Offbeat treated the patrons to a special brew called Raspberry Way Out Wheat (4.5%), which took a few mouthfuls for the taste buds to adapt to, but was a very nice drink after that, something to enjoy round a BBQ on a sunny day.

Titanic roped me in with their Cappuccino Stout (4.5%) which was indeed, most definitely a coffee scented/tasting stout.

Wilson Potter offered one of theirs I had not had before in Harcles Hill (3.7%) which was a smooth and easy drinking golden session ale.

A couple of the drinks I wanted had already sold out, but that can’t be helped, all it means is if it is that popular I’ll have to work harder in tracking those brews down.

The MOSI Power Hall actually has the ability to make me a little sentimental for a by gone age.  Something that (having not been there) I can only romanticise about it being somewhat more honest.  Or maybe I’m just so ham-fisted, I look at some of these steam behemoths and wonder if I could ever graft anything like that.

So yet again, thanks to all involved in the hosting, setting up and serving.

Till next time.


*The glasses did start off as being a returnable deposit on entry, but as is often the case of many beer festivals, people instinctively leave an empty glass behind and this allows people to hoover up the glasses and actually make a nice profit.  Quite a far cry from getting 10p back for your Alpine pop bottles (or Barr’s ones if they still do that).