IT’S the beer house equivalent of the Northern Powerhouse at the upcoming Manchester Beer & Cider Festival (Thursday, Jan 23-Saturday Jan 5) as it unveils its huge new ‘Coast To Coast’ bar with 175 handpumps showcasing ales from Merseyside to Humberside via Lancashire, Manchester and Yorkshire.
Now in its seventh year, the CAMRA-run celebration of hop, malt and apple will also increase its selection of foreign beers from Europe to the USA.
Two specialist bars are back by popular demand. The Beers From The Wood bar proved popular with drinkers, many of whom had never seen ales served from the traditional casks. Expect 75 beers served from (and some matured in) wooden casks. There will be exclusive barrels from local favourites Marble Beers, Runaway, Beatnikz Republic and Pomona Island (inc a collaboration with Reading's acclaimed Elusive Brewing), while Altrincham's Stubborn Mule are up in Greenfield, Oldham brewing an English IPA with Donkeystone.
The festival also experimented with a Gin bar in 2019, encouraging a further opportunity to showcase gins will be drawn exclusively from the our outstanding local distilleries.
For some visitors, the brewery bars are the highlight of their trip. Confirmed so far are Blackjack, Bollington, Brass Castle, Brightside, Outstanding Beers, RedWillow, Rooster’s, Runaway, Thirst Class and Tiny Rebel.
Plans are in hand to enhance festival-goers' experience with a series of tutored tastings run by beer and cider experts. Big draws will be ‘Beer from the Wood’ with legendary beer writer Roger Protz, ‘An Introduction to Dutch Beer’ from Manchester’s own John Clarke and ‘Modern Cider’ blending masterclass presented by world expert Tom Oliver.
Hot and cold food will be available with stalls selling traditional pub treats alongside modern snacks, cheeses and even Viking drinking horns.
Joint festival organisers Peter Alexander and Adrian Saunders have been working on the festival since the review of the 2019 event. Peter said: “We're delighted to make Manchester Central our home once again. Each year, we examine feedback from visitors to make the next one even better. There's a lot of coordination across different disciplines needed as the festival is almost entirely set up and run by CAMRA volunteers.
“We’re open to the public for three days, but CAMRA members get the perk of a free-to-enter preview evening. We have a single entry price each day including refundable glass hire that minimises queues inside and outside the venue.”
Adrian added: “For 2020, we've frozen the entry price for advance ticket holders, who also get the benefit of our doors opening early. We'd recommend visitors snapping up tickets in advance – anticipation is part of the excitement of our festival.”
Manchester Beer and Cider Festival, Manchester Central, Windmill Street, M2 3GX. Tickets cost £7 for Thur, £10 for Fri and Sat, each inc refundable £3 glass hire. These are on sale via the Festival Website until the midnight of the previous day, after which it’s pay on the door (after queueing a while). VIP packages are also available. Wed 22, 5pm-9pm is a free entry preview for CAMRA members. For updates follow the fetival on Twitter @MancBeerFest.