It was a busy old day on Saturday. The Manchester Beer and Cider Festival Organising Meeting in the Ange
l was (unusually) businesslike and brisk. It was gratifying to see that not only do we have a great team running things, but excellent progress is being made. Lessons learned from last year are being applied and that's as it should be. It'll be bigger and better, with more seats, beer on two floors, a greater selection and more. If it isn't in your diary, put it in now. The link is below. Also gratifying to this reader at least, was ideal organising meeting beer in the shape of an old friend and favourite, Hawkshead Windermere Pale
. At 3.5%, you can sup a few without your concentration and ability to contribute being adversely affected. It was in tremendous form too, though another bar person wouldn't have gone amiss in what was a very busy pub, especially when you have to wait behind someone paying for a couple of beers with a credit card. That's a pain in the whatsit to put it mildly.
Afterwards a few of us nipped into the recently renovated Smithfield
, which has been opened out a bit, cleaned up tremendously and dragged into the 21st Century. It had sorely needed it. Sadly there was only two cask beers on, Lytham Gold and a variation thereof with added
berries and fruit. I didn't try that, but my "ordinary" Lytham Gold
fine, if unexciting. I noted too that Heineken had clearly put money
into the place, the viewing lager cellar somewhat giving the game away
and the adverts, brewery signs, John Smith's Smooth and Fosters point of
sale visible everywhere, providing ample confirmation. At least we were
spared Deuchars IPA, though. This is a venture on which the jury is still out I think. Round the corner, the Crown and Kettle
was busy and had a good choice to go at.
I settled for my first ever Brewsmith
beer, their 6% IPA, cashing in my
previous weak beer credit all at once. I enjoyed it and it certainly
seemed appropriate, having met brewer James and his wife Jennifer at
IndyManBeerCon only the week before. I'll be taking up their kind invitation to visit, even though their premises are, sadly, just a mere 200 yards of so outside my CAMRA Bailiwick.
No trip to Manchester is complete with popping in to the Marble Arch.
I've not been in for while and had hoped for great things following the appointment of a new head brewer. Marble Best
was brown, full of crystal malt and pretty much a standard, English Bitter. One for the malt fans I think. A half of Chocolate Marble
wasn't as good as I've had it before on this showing and neither retained their heads, indicating that perhaps there is some way to go. Pint too, drunk by a colleague, lost its head immediately. On the plus side, service was noticeably friendly and quick. The visit was saved though by a recommendation. Blackjack Stout, dispensed by nitrogen mix, was smooth, bitter, strong (ish) and quite delicious. But then, I'm a bit of a sucker for unpasteurised nitro stout, as it gives lovely mouthfeel and a gorgeous thick white head. Stouts simply look and taste better through a tight white head.*
Your mileage may of course vary on that one. Probably does in fact.
Manchester Beer and Cider Festival details are here. Open from 21st- 24th January 2015 at the Manchester Velodrome.
*Cask conditioned stout through a tight sparkler is also delicious, if not more so.