Marble Arch 125 Birthday Festival

125 years and still going strong-strong being the operative word, but more of that in a moment-was the message from the Marble Arch’s birthday bash. Yes the famous Manchester landmark was celebrating and what better way to do so than with a beer festival? Now, some people were referring to it as “the Marble’s first birthday festival”. Technically true, but as I’m not holding my breath till the next one, I shall stick to calling it the Marble beer festival.

It all kicked off on Thursday which just so happened to be IPA Day. Not to be left behind with the world celebrating this iconic style, the Marble offered up a selection of, erm, IPAs. However, it was their first experience of a Salty Kiss, courtesy of Magic Rock that had people talking. Things began in earnest on Friday when the paying public were let loose inside. And the setup was quite different from normal.

Entrance was by the newly expanded beer garden which also played host to the musical entertainment. You got a glass and a programme. Payment was by coloured tokens: black=£1 and orange=25p. Tables has been removed from the pub to allow more standing room and to accommodate pop-up bars from Magic Rock and, on the Friday, Marble Brewery from Albuquerque, New Mexico. A nice touch that, getting the American Marble in on the act.

The pub front room hosted the pop-up bars and the handpulled/keg/cider/bottle beers. The back room hosted strong beers on handpulls and even stronger beers on gravity. And that’s one of the first things you noticed, there were a lot of strong beers. A hell of a lot. Indeed we were ushered in with the encouragement “Go for it. There’s a lot of rocket fuel on.” Personally I could have done with a few more sessionable beers as the ones on were very heavily tipped in favour of the Marble regular beer range.

The weakest beer tried was Pictish Angus at 4.1%. A new one to me, but sadly nothing special from this usually reliable Rochdale brewery. The same could be said of the Pilsner (4.7%) from Marble USA and their IPA (6.8%) was just ok as well. Now you don’t expect anything weak from Mr J at Quantum (American Light excepted) so I was prepared for Falconer’s Flight at 5.5%.

Blackjack Four of a Kind was the weakest we could find on the back bar (6.2%) and then there was Wild Beer Madness IPA (6.8%). Not to mention Summer Wine Devil Loves Chinook (7.2%). Can you see a pattern here?  It didn’t seem to be holding back local celebrity Mr Beige but there were a few grumbles about it. There was also some confusion as to whether all the beers listed should be on.

To have all the beers on at one time would seem logistically impossible, but I had been told they would be. And I wasn’t the only one. Several people there were under the same illusion including a Barnsley lad who had checked three times to ensure that that they were. Mind you, as he turned out to be a member of the Di-was-murdered-by-Liz conspiracy club, I had to discount his testimony on credibility grounds.

Overall an ambitious effort marred by a few niggles. Perhaps next time they can look at layout and beer selection.
Beer of the festival: Kernel Pale Ale Simcoe, Amarillo, Mosaic.


John Clarke said…
Personally I rather enjoyed the Plisener and IPA from Marble USA but the starturns were their 111 Farmhouse Ale and their Imperial Stout.
RedNev said…
That Barnsley lad is clearly barking; everyone knows it was the Duke of Edinburgh.
Steve Bolton said…
I don't understand why they had to charge an entry fee. Basically you are paying £5 for a glass and any pub that does that is ripping you off. It was heaving inside and I just thought it was poorly run.
Sue said…
Alan obviously had a very good time on Friday but he claimed his state was due to the heat. Was in bed and asleep before I got home at 6!
Barry said…
You can add me to the list of people who thought all the advertised beers would be on. And yes I did check. There were some good beers on, but I would agree that on Friday there was a severe shortage of weaker beers. And seats. Except outside where you were unable to escape the music.

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