Beer Festivals 2013 – A Debrief

I started this blog at the back end of May this year (2013) and consequently I missed out on reviewing quite a few beer festivals.

I’m not going to do that now, I’m just going to look back fondly on them.

Beer Festivals 2013

The joys of attending beer festivals is you are never going to be short of etched glasses, or for that matter beer programmes (or t-shirts if you are that way inclined).

A quick roll call for the above photo, much like a sports team’s yearly squad photo is:

Front Row (l-r): Wigan CAMRA Festival, Salford Summer Beer Festival, Manchester Winter Ales (sharp eyes may spot the glass is from 2012 but I went in 2013, no idea where the glasses went)

Back Row (l-r): IndyMan Beer Con, Bolton Beer Festival, Marble 125th Birthday Festival, Boothstown British Legion Festival, Love Beer in Chorlton, MOSI Beer Festival, Bolton CAMRA Festival, Bent & Bongs and the Leeds Beer Festival.

This doesn’t include the ones that either didn’t do their own glasses or had run out, such as Allgates Festival/Pub crawl and the Scrumdown Festival.

The Wigan CAMRA was new to me but has been going years, Salford Summer was an inaugural event and the Winter Ales festival I’ve been to a few times, but I believe the ‘winter ales’ side has located to Derby for a while and so the new incarnation for the upcoming Manchester festival will be the one at the velodrome.

I don’t suppose the Marble Arch will have another one for at least another 25 years.

IndyMany is in its 2nd year (as is the Leeds one, though it was my first time attending that), Bolton CAMRA has been going a while as has the other Bolton one and they are nicely spaced at different times of the year and different ends of the town.

MOSI is in its third year, with a maybe permanent change of late summer from its original early summer dates.

Allgates did its first two Festivals/Pub Crawls this year (as far as I’m aware) and I can see that being quite the regular event, for which I will get their provided transport for.

Love Beer was also an inaugural event (I always seem to miss the other Chorlton Beer Festival), Boothstown is in its 2nd year, Scrumdown is in its 6th and Bent and Bongs will celebrate its 25th birthday in 2014.

These all take place in a myriad of different locations, some very (too?) well attended some not so much, some easy to get too, some worthy of a trek.

But there are now quite a few new ones popping up everywhere and this blog will endeavour to travel even further afield to sample beers and the atmospheres.

This kind of begins with my trip to Sydney (Australia) in February, so if anyone reading this can recommend so good brew pubs or beers to try when I’m over there please comment.

Here is to 2014, long may we be kept in beer.

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).