Bolton CAMRA Beer Festival 2014

So, a week after this thing started (taking place between 24th – 26th April 2014) and a further good few days after Beers Manchester reviewed it, here is my review of this wonderful little event.

It is held at the Bolton Ukrainian Club or maybe this Bolton Ukrainian Club (I think they are the same, maybe someone got locked out of their twitter account?)

This is the 2nd time the event has been held here.

About 12 minutes walk from Bolton train station and add another 10 minutes if you get the bus, which you should, because then you can go to Great Ale Year Round.

You should do, apart from being a great bottle shop and micro-bar in one, they also sponsored the volunteer t-shirts…

Bolton Beer Fest Itinerary
Bolton Beer Fest Itinerary

The beer is served by the half pint, the prices ranged from £1.10 to £1.70 per half.

This was met with chagrin by one bloke, bemoaning that some drinks were over £3 a pint (only 2 were + the ciders, all priced more or less by their ABV) who’d brought his own bottle and must have last been to a beer festival in 1976 when beer prices weren’t at the mercy of the escalator.

Of course with any kind of festival that entertains people by their hundreds you will get some moans…

Some even complained there were too many ‘local’ beers…I suppose if you’ve tried them you wish for more choice, but there is no harm in having them again if you liked them first time.

I had a small moan about the festival last year…

I went to this event in 2013, I didn’t have this blog to write about it and I was fairly new to twitter.

If ever my paranoia about not going to the early sessions of a beer festival have haunted me it was the 2013 hosting of this event.

Basically the people of Bolton love dark beers and they had very nearly ran dry on the Saturday I went down – this was broadcast to me constantly (and innocently) over twitter as almost a tease.

But I still got down there and had a damn fine time with what beers were left (there were plenty of others to go at).

This year I went to all sessions. I tried more or less of all the drinks. One of the reasons this has taken so long to compose is how do I review the 50+ beers I tried over the 3 days?

In short, I can’t.

In shorter, there was only 1 beer I truly didn’t like and I didn’t like it when I first tried it and was experimenting to see if my palate had changed, it hadn’t, it is still pants.

But I still can’t review 49 beers. So I figured I’d just review the festival itself.

17.

17 Milds, Stouts and Porters.

17.

Now I did here chatter that this time there were too many dark beers. But I’m never going to complain about that. Too many dark beers is not a statement I’d ever be at odds with.

Though I can understand people’s trepidation. But that still left 33 non-dark beers to go at, plus the 8 Ciders & Perries.

As did the steady stream of punters coming through the doors, milling around the fairly large, open planned main hall, or sitting in the back area/dining room.

The food was never more than £4 and ranged and it was all good stodge. Curry, chilli, burgers, sausages, veggie lasagne and Steak Canadian with lashing of onions, plus a few sarnies.

It was here that I met the aforementioned ‘Beers Manchester’ or rather he met me, after all, I’d been coyly expressing my the love of my anonymity and it is fun trying to put faces to people’s twitter accounts, or in lieu of a photo, their words. I was picked out by Dan and Gina of ‘Great Ales’ and my thoroughly underwhelming appearance was well and truly divulged.

Still the necessary social lubrication was in abundance that I didn’t have to find my usual quiet spot, plus I can chat given (much like Baccara) a certain mood or because of the relentless friendliness of all those in attendance.

Oh, I can’t, I have to mention some beers…
Deeply Vale Brewery had the always excellent DV8 4.8% stout and their Tipsy Porridge Stout (5.5%) which one beer of the festival.

Other excellent and purely coincidentally dark brews were:

Five Points Brewing with their Railway Porter (4.8%).

Great Heck Brewery and the Voodoo Mild (4.3%)

Ramsbottom Craft Brewery and their very quick selling Chocolate Porter (4.2%)

The 6.0% Manifesto Strong Stout by Revolutions Brewing Co.

Three Quarter Porter (4.5%) by Stringers.

Outstanding Beers and their 4.4% Red.

Blackedge Brewing and their 4.6% Dark Rum. Their One Citra (4.3%) was also a highlight of the lighter ales.

Along with Hand Drawn Monkey Beers with their 2.8% Smaller IPA.

So with that it is thanks to the many volunteers; Gill, Graham, Linda, Peter, Jez and all the others, and the kitchen staff and the staff of the Bolton Ukrainian Club.

Same time next year I’d hope.

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