After last years excitement, Mrs RM was always accompanying me on my trip to Manchester Beer Fest 17 so I didn’t lose any precious CAMRA magazines on the tram this time round.  That at least she achieved.

We had a sensible start, at least.  A Flat White and Eggs Avocado at Leaf on Portland St is very civilised and very Manc. Leaf seems to have missed WhatPub’s attention, though the Liverpool branch is in.  You could fit half a dozen micropubs in this attractive café/bar/late-night venue.  Sharps Atlantic on pump and some interesting cans/caps/bottles/whatever that impressed Mrs RM, but it was only 10am.


The highlight, apart from a soundtrack some might call “chilled” if that wasn’t a banned word in my presence, was the sight of a bloke dad dancing in the middle of Portland Street, oblivious to the abuse of drivers on both sides  Tellingly, he was waving a bottle of Prosecco around his head.  Good job real ale drinkers don’t get blotto.

Then some culture to keep Mrs RM away from the horrors of the Arndale.  The first big change you notice in central Manc is the tidy-up of St Peters Square which has really brought some stunning architecture to the fore.  Of course, the Central Library is the gem, and the staff there were keen to make sure we took time to appreciate the reading room.  Central Manchester is packed with architecture this good.


Of course, there’s plenty of controversial new development in town too, and not everyone seems as enthusiastic as I am about the omnipresent cranes that define Manchester.

Somehow Mrs RM still snuck in a visit to Lush between the Central and the Ryland, so my coat pockets were weighed down by soap all afternoon. Better than mobile phone chargers anyway.

In the queue for MBCG I did my usual “talk to a stranger” job on two Oldham folk, attempting to scare them with my estuary English and knowledge of Lees pubs in Chadderton. They weren’t impressed, and returned to their chat about steroids.

Once in, Mrs RM looked for Wi-Fi, barked orders (food and craft), and I looked for members of Black Sabbath ahead of their gig in Manc tonight.


As last year, MBCF is pretty special.  Among the highlights;

  • High quality beer (NBSS 3/3.5) all round – Brass Castle’s Sunshine a standout
  • Lots of well-known beers and breweries, not an over-emphasis on festival specials
  • Beers across the full range of strengths and styles
  • Well-priced beer (I paid £1 -1.10 for quite a few thirds)
  • Clean toilets
  • Free drinking water
  • Pipers spicy tomato crisps in enormous bags
  • Cheery volunteers and chatty brewers

The only lowlight was missing the last cask of Cloudwater, but like Black Sabbath (and BrewDog) there’s time for a comeback.

We’d booked tickets for John Clarke’s Dutch beer tasting at 1pm,so there was no real reason to overdo the drinking before that.  I had a third of Hyde’s Old Indie, before somehow switching to this one;


It was wonderful, but it really should have been left till last.

We’d enjoyed John’s engaging tutored tasting of IPAs and Belgian beers last year, and the Dutch bottles were a revelation, though some of the labelling fell foul of modern expectations (yes, you Ramses).


Mrs RM found the Saison and the “Spray Tan Gone Wrong” rather more challenging (“I like beer in my beer, not fake tan“), which was unfortunate as I found myself having to finish off rather more beer than strictly sensible at the end.

Pub Curmudgeon has done a provocative summary of the Great Debate.  I would tend to be more charitable, and it was good to get the perspective of two of our top brewers on quality and pricing.  Those debates are always better on paper than in practice.  Next year stick Mudge next to Pete Brown and liven it up.

And that was me finished.

A few take-home lessons for me:-

  • That Erlanger Nick is a good ‘un.
  • Mrs RM is a real #PubWoman.
  • Taxis have their uses.
  • Just because there’s free beer you don’t have to drink it.
  • Next year eat at Bundobust first.


  1. Pete Brown would easily defeat me in a light-heavyweight contest.

    And I’m glad you’ve at last realised that taxis have their uses.

    “And that was me finished.” – I didn’t witness this at first hand, but is that an early contender for Understatement of the Year?


      1. No, I think you were swamped by a tsunami of strong Dutch beer. Should have stayed in the hall drinking BBBs from the IFBB bar 😀

        (Having said which, I did indulge in an Andechs Spezial Hell at 5.9% on that lunchtime)


    1. The chap selling them came from Lincolnshire where they’re made; he was delighted when I told him I’d eaten them in 4 different counties in the last week !

      I presume you’ve only seen them in England ?


  2. Motorists abusing a bloke dancing in the middle of the street waving a Prosecco bottle is just not on. They should have driven round him or, if this could not be safely achieved, run him over before carrying on merrily with their journey. Ideally of course they should all have left their vehicles at home and travelled by other means, but once in the car that option diminishes.

    Manchester should not have any culture. It should all be transferred to the fair city of Kingston upon Hull.

    The Arndale has a decent cheese stall near to the micropub, which I suspect predates Mr Micropub’s supposed invention. Beyond that I have no reason to visit.

    The only use I can think of for a taxi is to cover for the failings of the modern dynamic thrusting railway, although a hotel could do just as well. What uses did you manage to find?


    1. The use of the taxi was, I’m ashamed to say, not my decision Tom, but I think its use is as a redistributor of wealth.

      I must visit the cheese stall in the Arndale. Does it sell unpasteurised.?


      1. Cheese shop gorn. Now the only use of Manchester is the collection of curry cafes.

        I still don’t condone the use of taxis. If people want their wealth redistributing, they should give it to me. I will then give it to curry cafe owners and to the exchequer via the railway.

        Liked by 1 person

      1. That’s a reasonable choice from the current Dutch scene, a couple of more average breweries but generally most of the better ones available at present. Would be nice to see some of the cask being produced at present given a trip to the UK for comparison.


      2. I think John wanted to give us a wide range of styles as much as rarities, which he certainly achieved. The Vuur & Vlam was the only one I’d seen befor, though I’m not a home drinker. Yes to cask !


      3. Could have been a lot worse chouce, there is some stuff close to bad homebrew on the go at present (the same oversaturated market as a lot of Western Europe at the moment). Had some very decent Vandestreek and Uiltje in cask in the last year. Arendsnest has even added a couple of handpulls to the bar (only seen Dutch cider on dispense from them though!).

        Liked by 1 person

  3. My choice was largely restricted by what the festival sourced but as you say care has to be exercised – I had a couple of shockingly bad IPAs in Groningen last year for example. Getting Dutch cask to either Manchester or Stockport festivals is an aim – if Beermoth’s cask exchange programme gets going that might be one avenue to achieve that.

    PS – I do know a reasonable amount about Dutch beer – but haven’t been to Arendsnest for quite a while (I went off it a bit) so the info about the handpumps was interesting

    Liked by 1 person

    1. John, you might be able to arrange something with Thornbridge, they must be shipping regularly to their Den Bosch bar and getting back empties at present. Arendsnest doesn’t tend to have much in the way of quality control with respect to which breweries it sources.


  4. Glad you enjoyed. I was on the brewery bars/cellar for the duration of build and service.

    I believe Brass Castle Bad kitty was the beer of the festival though not sure if that was the vollys selection of the punters.


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