I’m no great fan of beer festivals, and not just because they take people out of pubs (I know, I know). And writing about them is much harder than writing about pubs.

But Manchester Fest is always great fun, the beer is cool (in both senses), and being Northern people sometimes speak to you rather than their mates from the same branch.

My objectives were to survive the Roger Protz session on “Beers from the wood“, eat loads of Pipers crisps, and say hello to pubby heros Quosh, the Tand, Chris and Duncan, whose skiffle combo is taking shape nicely.

I nearly got distracted on the way to the GMEX, as the chap next to me persisted on calling it.

manc beer fest


The queue is always good-natured, and a steward regales me with tales of coal mining in Muirkirk, “the true north”. A pub-free village, apparently.

Mrs RM isn’t here to chaperone me, and I had to exercise self-restraint until Roger’s tasting session at 3pm.

Luckily, I found a seat next to a chatty couple of lads from Westhoughton, where Pubmeister was ticking at that very moment.


What you need to know is that Stephen (@beany_) had smuggled in some rival crisps, a truffled cheese and champagne limited edition that rather put my Pipers benchmark in the shade.

Stephen collects trash LPs (see his Twitter) from charity shops; can you name the four below ?

My notes include the following;

“I’m getting gingerbread”

“I’ve got a box of Don Estelle”

“James Last doing “Silver Machine”, wow”

and details of some Bolton pre-emptives I’m keeping to myself.


Unlike 2017, when I think I had a pint of Lees Harvest Ale for breakfast, 2019 saw a bottle of Bud LA and halves of Ram Tam, Three Swords, and Trouble Brewing from the Irish stall. All good.



At the Beers from the Wood stall I had a chat with Tony Lea, a great bloke and the only Spurs fan I know who isn’t continually whinging and whining. What a great smile he has.

As has Quosh, on day release from Saddleworth. Best dressed man at MBCF19.

Apart from Mr Protz himself, the most dapper man in beer. I always feel such a slob in jeans and Bass t-shirt.

Roger took us through some of the highlights of the wood; I snaffled the set list for you.

Shiny, shiny (oh, that was Saturday)

It was really entertaining, although Roger rattled through at a pace that would have challenged even Mrs RM.Β  Perhaps I was taking too long carefully decanting my beer from those glasses into my pint, to the obvious disgust of Pubmeister.

Anyway, a clear win for “Bad Kitty“, which almost made up for my missing out on the “Sunshine“. Brass Castle can do no wrong.

Unlike Fullers, whose sell-off/cop-out was the talk of the festival.

Here’s a picture of typical CAMRA members at the Festival debating the sale.

Typical CAMRA members (except the bloke at the back photobombing)


      1. James Last (born Hans Last; 17 April 1929 – 9 June 2015), also known as Hansi, was a German composer and big band leader of the James Last Orchestra. Initially a jazz bassist.

        So there you go.

        I expect he drank beer.


      1. Good lord, Climate Change is causing migration?

        They’re obviously referencing all the poor souls currently experiencing record cold in the American midwest. πŸ˜‰


  1. Brilliant post, from Muirkirk to James Last. In the early 1980’s the Central Bar in Muirkirk was a GBG entry selling Maclays 60/-, known as Light and popular in that area but dying out even then. I went into the newsagent and noticed Pravda was on sale. The local Junior (semi-pro) football team played high up in Kames – the ground is still there, long abandoned and well grazed these days. They moved into the village to Ladeside Park where, I think, they featured in the first televised Junior match. It’s a famous footballing area- nearby is a statue to Bill Shankly who played for Glenbuck Cherrypickers in a now abandoned mining village. These days the area has been ravaged by open cast mining.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes I am making a formal request to be designated as such. Realise there will probably be stiff competition but happy to go up against it. Not sure but big depopulation. Have also been to Black Bull years ago so must have been in GBG too.


      1. We had it in Harrogate and Lincoln. Both times we loved it. It is the one beer we tried with and without the sparkler. Interesting differences.


    1. I thought that the “roof garden” would make a nice little niche, in which to sit with a pint on a warm day, and watch the world go by beneath. But then the pub’s position isn’t the best for that, on the sweeping bend of that busy road.

      There again, you do get Eddie Stobart spotters.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Surely Roger didn’t try to explain beers from the wood without power point?

    Classic illustration of crisp packet opening there too…

    By way of apology for my comments I can only offer this…

    …evil in every sense…

    Liked by 1 person

      1. I once had the pleasure of seeing Roger Protz stand up in indignation at an NUJ conference in Whitley Bay and throw a pint of beer over the carpet of whatever function room we were in.
        I can’t remember exactly what it was all about because,as you can imagine,in a room full of hacks there were very few people sober but I think it was his protest at the corporate sponsorship of the event.
        I was impressed although at the time I was busy trying to get into the pants of a major female newspaper columnist who eventually turned me down for a future Labour minister who was jailed for fiddling his expenses.


      2. Who was that character on the Fast Show, whose pay-off line was always “…unfortunately, I was terribly, terribly drunk”?


  3. ” the beer is cool (in both senses)”

    (slow golf clap)

    “A pub-free village, apparently.”

    The photo just below that is you in the 80’s, innit? πŸ™‚


    Not to be a bit of a stickler (oh, ok, a bit) but I’m pretty sure where the bag says “absolutely nothing artificial” said comment doesn’t include the bag it’s written on. πŸ˜‰

    “can you name the four below ?”

    I’m guessing various takes on the HOC this week? πŸ˜‰

    “2019 saw a bottle of Bud LA ”

    What in the name of Odin’s beard is THAT!

    “Best dressed man at MBCF19.”

    He’s definitely ‘keeping up appearances’. πŸ™‚

    “I snaffled the set list for you.”

    I thought Abbeydale was some sort of Trappist beer; turns out I was wrong.

    “Typical CAMRA members (except the bloke at the back photobombing)”

    I like the look of mine on the right. πŸ™‚



    1. Abbeydale is a suburb of Sheffield, home to one of the best of the newer breweries. You see their beer in hundreds of pubs round Yorkshire. Lots of stronger beers, but that one on the list was just weird.

      Budvar Low Alcohol was the only option for the driver (not me). It was so bad it would drive you to drink.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. The main man in your monochrome photograph is Rick Zaple from Cardiff, a CAMRA member I’ve often seen these past twenty years.
    “Roger rattled through at a pace that would have challenged even Mrs RM” maybe because he wanted to get out to the Hare and hounds.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Neither do you. More power to your elbows (and knees). I was whizzing past youngsters last night at Newcastle on way to getting into pubs first before the football. Don’t they teach schoolchildren how to walk fast ?


    1. Ha ! It was a bit like that, Mark. Roger was chatting to his merry band of helpers bringing beers from the wooden barrels in the main hall, which were fast running out. Some folk who shall not be named but who sound like “Runcan” were shouting out “Where’s the peanut butter stout”, just like folk shout for “Just Can’t Get Enough” at Depeche Mode gigs.

      Liked by 1 person

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