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.
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.
It was really entertaining, although Roger rattled through at a pace that would have challenged even Mrs RM. 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.