A review of the 2nd Manchester Beer and Cider Festival to be held at the Velodrome on the Emptyhad Campus between the 21st and 24th of January 2015.
This year I only went as a punter, not for any other reason than time and I only went as a punter on the quieter Wednesday opening day.
The biggest change this year was that the whole concourse surrounding the track was available. This had enable about half the bars to be placed on this level (the same level as the toilets and the enterance) and allow more room downstairs for people.
So in one fell swoop they solved a great many problems that were associated with the first festival. Plenty of seats in centre of the track, less of a walk to the toilet and then to get beer, less hurry in fact.
In doing this you often felt that you might lose a sense of atmosphere, that by halving the bars in the centre, you have the crowd size.
But looking at the photos on the event Twitter feed you can see that there is a fair old crowd still in the centre. Plus the walk around the concourse means you don’t have to be stuck at the sometimes upcomfortable temperatures in the centre of the track needed to appease those healthy heathens cycling around the facility.
Yep, they’ve started doing stemmed glasses.
CAMRA have clearly taken pointers from a lot of the smaller independent festivals and their popularity, not just in glassware but in general attitude.
It is hard to say that they’ve become more professional because, as stated in previous reviews (1) they are all volunteers and (2) they generally host things to a high standard most of the time.
This year there was an extra sheen to the festival, no small thanks in part to a very professionally run media aspect giving constant updates and reminders (see above twitter feed and the website).
The beer choice itself also seemed to have upped its game too, a greater emphasis rightly so put on the local brewers, which I sometimes feel is lost at other beer festivals, regardless of their location, but specifically Indy Man don’t often trumpet Manchester brewers often enough at their shindig, something that CAMRA do do and do well (Da Doo Ron Ron).
It seems that the 2014 festival was an abberation to that extent, which can’t not be unexpected (hmm, triple negative), the only thing to let this festival down (like those before it) was the food; acceptable stodge – but quantity over quality and choice.
So it is again thanks to all the volunteers, staff and organisers that made this possible.
Stupidly I didn’t take a pen along, so this is all done be recall and having said that there now follows a list of beers and brewers that I really did enjoy at the 2015 festival with limited notes but a hearty recommendation for all:
Allgates – Macadamia, Coconut and Lime Porter (4.6% – refreshingly totally tropical)
Alphabet Brew Co – Crate Digger (8.3%) and Space Invader (6.0% – a very nice flavoursome saison)
Blackedge – Motley Brew (4.0%)
Black Jack Beers – Betting Cap (5.3%), Vanilla Stout (5.2%) and Beginners Cranberry (5.0%)
Five-Oh Brew Co – Sorachi Wicked (6.0%, yes another small cask from them)
Quantum – Imperial Buckwheat Stout (8.5%)
Silver Street Brewery – Porter (5.0%)
Squawk – Beanbrothers Coffee Stout (6.5%) and Ad Hop Liquorice Porter (6.5% and boy is there liquorice)
Stockport Brewing Company – Black Buck (5.8%)
Thirst Class Ale – Stocky Oatmeal Stout (5.5%)
Tweed – Black Shire Stout (4.5%)
Watt’s Brewing – Raspberry & Rosehop Pale Ale (4.6% – lovely and fruity)
Reading through the guide I realise just how many more I didn’t try…should have done another session, well live, drink and learn.
Till next year.