I've enjoyed reading various posts about dry Januarys, but while I'll be cutting down a little due to mince pie excess, January means one thing to me above all - The National Winter Ales Festival. Next week I'll go over my huge amount of paperwork and ensure all my stuff is up to date for my main role, that of Health and Safety Officer. I say main role, but that is moot, as my "other" responsibility is as Deputy Organiser, which of course gives me a sharp overview of the huge amount of work put in by a lot of very dedicated people.
It is quite amazing to look at the beer list and realise that there is a remarkably long list of beers that choose themselves, either because they are competition entries (we host the Champion Winter Beer of Britain, plus Regional Heats for next year.) There are sponsor's beers too - yes we have them otherwise the cost of entry would be prohibitive - and we have a feature this year involving Project Venus. When you take that lot out, the "free" list is a lot shorter than you'd imagine. The Beer Orderer has a remarkably difficult juggling job to do. It is a huge credit to him that despite the difficulties, we will have a fantastic choice for customers.
Meantime others have been working on foreign beer lists, cider lists, pricing, bar kit, cooling plans, electrical plans, liaison with Police, staffing, beer judging, security, logistics and a thousand other mind boggling things. In addition to door and foyer arrangements (another little sideline of mine) and Health and Safety, I'll have to get my head round a beer tasting I'll be giving to corporate customers. I haven't done one for a couple of years and while fun, they are quite a responsibility as they need a fair bit of planning.
Sometimes we wonder why we do it, but I know it will all come together and when the punters start to flood in, it will all be worthwhile.
Do come and join us and see how it has all worked out. You really will be most welcome.
National Winter Ales Festival, 23rd-26th January 2013, Sheridan Suite, Manchester, M40 8RR. Over 300 Real Ales, Ciders and Foreign Beers from around the world.