Well what a week it’s been for beer festivals locally. By the climatic finale this weekend, there were no less than four major festivals running concurrently. Interestingly, all featured real ale at its best: i.e. served via handpump and with sparkler.
First up was the country’s biggest pub festival at the Hare & Hounds. With around 175 real ales and some 19 ciders showcased over 10 days, this is a major event on the beer festival calendar. There were plenty of obscure and new breweries here to fulfil even the wildest onanistic ticker’s fantasy. However, for me, it was the big guns of Oakham and Magic Rock that were the stars of the show.
Boasting 64 beers all lined up on a bar, the SIBA festival at the Mercure Hotel in Manchester was another that had punters eagerly queuing up. Although it can get warm in the room, if you bag a seat, it’s very easy to while away a few hours there. And beer was sensibly served in a lined glass so you could have your choice of measure. Merlin and Roosters were particularly good here.
Boasting slightly less choice, but no less quality, was the Ramsbottom Oktobeerfest at the Civic Hall. Run in aid of Mountain Rescue, this is in an excellent venue with plenty of eager volunteers to help keep the beers flowing. Brewsters came out top dog at this one.And then there’s the Wetherspoon festival. Still ongoing, it offers its usual allure of having foreign brewers coming over here to try their hand at brewing real ale. And, as usual, there are highs and lows and quite a bit of mediocrity in-between. The Feral Australian IPA has been a big disappointment, but the Avery 3 Point 5 has been outstanding.
So a rather frenetic week, beer wise. At least I can relax now. Oh hold on, three of them are still on. Beer glasses at the ready, then, it’s time for a final push.