Wigan Beer Festival 2014

This is a review for the ‘Swiggin in Wiggin’ 27th CAMRA Beer Festival.

Held between February 27th to 1st March 2014.

This was my 2nd year of attendance (again, I didn’t have a blog this time last year to write it up).

It is also part of the currently ongoing Wigan Food and Drink Festival 2014.

This runs up until the 9th of March 2014, so plenty of time to try other bits of food and world cuisine that isn’t solely pies and Uncle Joe’s Mint Balls. There is also an American Beer Festival in Standish on the 7th, which is free and might be worth a mooch.

The price of entry varied for each day but was free to CAMRA members.

Tokens were the paper sheet kind, crossed off with marker pen and all unused were fully refundable, as was the deposit for the glass (£2) – but the glasses (half pint tankard or full pint, with 1/2 marking) are very nice things, even if they had spelling mistakes on last year.

Wigan Beer Fest Itinerary
Wigan Beer Fest Itinerary

When I went last year, Wigan Athletic were playing at home (at the JJB/DW stadium), against Liverpool (when the genius rat-faced biter went on a bit of a rampage, goal-wise). The festival was busy on the Saturday I went on in 2013, full of people in blue and white who promptly left at about 2.30pm.

This year Wigan were playing away (as a side note, Suarez still got a lot of good Fantasy Football points away at Southampton).

This year the festival was very busy, busier than 2013.

As we know the last day of a beer festival is generally beer light, but in 2013 there was still a fair few to crack at, in 2014 there was distinct lack of choice.

Which I’ll bemoan from a purely selfish point of view, but fills me with joy if festivals are proving popular.

Food wise, it was a step up again from last year. The addition of a few more stalls and a bigger range of foods to go at, including black peas (£1). £3 got you a wurst roll and various other prices got you a chicken fajita, nacho’s, black puddings and a choice of pies (which I still think should be pushed harder, clichés be damned).

As it takes place in a sports hall the toilets are good and there is plenty of space on the floor and in the bleachers (to sit).

So the beers, in no real order:

Coastal Brewery had provided a 9% Kernow Imperial Stout and what a lovely drop this was, one of my favourites of the festival. Dark, smooth and strong.

Fell Brewery had a Robust Porter at 4.8% which was my other favourite. I may be biased towards my dark drinks, but when done right like this was, smooth and sweet with a ‘burnt’ taste, then it is manner from heaven.

The light stuff was started with the wonderfully titled Doc Morton’s Hedgehog Resharpener (4.1%) by Abbeydale Brewery. Very much a New Zealand style pale ale it was palatable and well-balanced.

BlackJack Beers had provided another new one of theirs to me called Pokies coming in at (3.6%). An American pale ale with citrus twang.

Blakemere Brewery have had a strong run of beers recently, but I tried their “one-off” Merciless (6.0%). A chili-infused IPA. I was warned when I asked for it and was happy with what I got. It is an acquired taste, probably too much and to strong a chili taste for some, the mouth adopts and the heat never goes past uncomfortable. Not something you’d drink a lot of, but as a warmer on a winter night it was effective and quite a good IPA.

Nelson’s Eye (4.5%) by Heavy Industry Brewing was a good, straight-forward bitter.

Penzance Brewing have brought along a crystal clear, golden and smooth bitter called Potion No. 9 (4.0%), very good.

Final beer was from Prospect Brewery and seeing as their Deep Purple and Silver Tally had sold out, I went “off-programme” with their 3.8% Whatever. A good and clean pale ale.

It was a good thing I started off at The Anvil in Wigan (where the free bus to both the festival and a new bus, from Prospect, to take you on tours of good local pubs, left from) as I got to try a few more beers.

Allgates Brewery and their ever-present and ever good All Black, a wonderful 3.8% mild and the 4ish% Sladek from Pictish Brewing whose every beer I have is lovely, smooth and tasty.

The Swiggin in Wiggin festival is a fine advert for the medium-bigger sized ones and if it continues to grow I’m going to have to find excuses to go on more than the 1 day.

Thanks to all staff involved in the organisation and service.

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