Manchester Beer Festival 2014 – Part 2 – The Pathologist’s Report

This was going to be part 2 of the Manchester Beer and Cider Festival, but from the point of view of a volunteer.

However, I’ll get around to that, I figured in the meantime I’d weigh in (late as ever) with a shocking 2nd blog post in as many days, about the pros and cons of the place and the general reaction and where the future might hold. All in the glory of rhetorical questions and offering no solutions, except maybe buy more beer.

*No pictures, just prose.*

The Pros – which may have ended up turning into negatives.

1. The location of the Velodrome was a fantastic and original setting, which may well have drawn the merely curious out to see it, leading to the large numbers of people in attendance.

2. Transport links were good – well if you can ever use Metrolink and good transport in the same sentence. I just felt like I’d wasted £3 every time I’d got on.

3. 300+ beers and ciders – speaks for itself.

The Cons – which will effect different people to different extents.

1. The walk – but can’t do much about the building.

2. The seating – which is one for the future.

3. The beer running out – the worst one of the lot.

4. The sometimes wanton unprofessionalism of whoever was in charge of the @mancbeerfest twitter feed…

So whoever was responsible for this tweet:

And this one…

Which the feed appears to now suggest we can lay at the fingers of one of these people…

Are CAMRA a professional outfit?

No they are a bunch of volunteers (in the vast majority of cases) but these tweets belie what I think was generally at fault with the festival.

The Sheridan Suite had bus links, which were subsidised to £1 each way to get there and were an equivalent walk to the venue that the tram is to the National Cycling Centre for this year’s festival.

There were 4,000+ people who attended on the Friday alone.

The Saturday that I worked seemed as absolute bedlam as I imagined Friday’s session was.

Now I’ve no idea if this year’s was advertised more heavily than any other year.

Or if the venue is really that big of a drawn.

Or if the unfortunate timing of a Citeh FA cup game versus Watford compounded the beer running out.

Or if in the past year beer has become THAT more popular.

Maybe there is wisdom in the paraphrased adage “if you book it, they will come.”

Festival Saturdays are notoriously beer light times. But I still hold no truck with fucktards whining about “working” – what so you work harder than say the 8000 others who attended the other days, or who volunteered?

Jog on, you self-important bollock-head.

Problem is, if you move to a new venue, you are probably going to get fewer people turning up.

But of course it does depend on the venue. I mean, where were these 10,000 people in 2013 or 2012 and years before when it was the Winter Ales festival.

I wouldn’t discount the weather too – most times of a Winter Ales Festival its been snowing, this mild climate at the moment (not due to climate change of course, no need to look for other energy sources, lets just keep burning dinosaur matter till it runs out and we can then kill each other over every rain drop) may have led to the heavier foot-fall.

A benefit of the festival running out of beer was everyone skulking off elsewhere – to give much-needed business to local pubs and bars. I went over to the Microbar mini festival they had on and got talking to a proper City fan (one who has always gone to the matches. Not someone who ‘refound’ the team, or changed Manchester colours, or one of those 4 irksome American girls in their clawing sky-blue and white scarves I had the misfortune to serve on Saturday).

This very nice and very well-informed chap who spoke a massive amount of common sense about beer, brewing and pubs was trying to figure out why the (very excellent) Crown & Kettle was busy and was very happy to learn that this may have been the reason why getting his pie dinner and a pint was delayed, and offset by about 500 yards.

But where does this leave the festival in 2015 and beyond?

Have those people who just turned up to see the venue going to return a second time?

Are those not liking the seating/walking/stairs going to bother too?

More importantly are those who had to leave 3-4 hours earlier that the advertised 7pm finish and then told all their mates ever going to return?

Will Team GB even hire out the venue again?

Is CAMRA really putting profit before actual beer promotion?

Do you get in more beer if the foot-fall is possibly going to be lighter because of bad press?

I’m sure the higher up bods in CAMRA are debating this right now.

And if they aren’t – then they are fucked.

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