Friday, 22 January 2016

Manchester Beer and Cider Festival

This week started somewhat badly. My New Year's plan of getting out into the Cumbrian Fells more was actioned by a day out on Saturday. Parking on the small, untreated side road and getting out of the car onto sheet ice on a slight incline resulted in me falling flat on my back, quite literally. The resultant injury to my ribs necessitated combined use of ibuprofen and co-codamol. I mention it here party because it is relevant to the story, but much more importantly because I crave a little sympathy, although I doubt it'll be forthcoming.

Of course we all know that co-codamol must never be taken in conjunction with alcohol. the codeine can make one disorientated and dizzy, as can alcohol, and we couldn't possibly want to double such effects now would we? So on Wednesday, with some trepidation and a pocket full of painkillers, I headed along with Ann and Scott to the Manchester Beer and Cider Festival trade session.

Before we arrived we felt it necessary to visit Piccadilly Tap. I hadn't been completely paying attention to what was going on since it opened, but something, somewhere told me that Stonch aka @jeffreyjohnbell had a hand in the goings on at said establishment. Besides, we'd also been alerted to there being keg Infra Red on tap, and it is always good to check our beers in the wild and ensure top class quality.

To our marginal surprise, we found the man himself behind the bar. Additionally, there was several other folk including @ErlangerNick and @ArthurJScargill present, making the visit very worthwhile. Both Infra Red and Jeffrey were in top form. Unfortunately, Ann decided to order a half pint of something at about 8%, before lunch. I hurried her to drink up as we needed to move on. She can get very silly when strong beer hits her stomach so quickly. Me, however, found that the combination of codeine and alcohol to be pleasant enough, and so off to the festival we toddled via a Turkish restaurant, to which Scott wanted to take us.

This year the Manc Beer Fest has relocated to Manchester Central Convention Complex, better know to me as the G-MEX centre. I'm not sure why, but it seems the authorities failed to send me the memo to say it had change its name.

I'd must report to being quite impressed with the venue. Central to Manchester makes it very easy to access. Spacious, and at least on Wednesday, plenty of seating was to be had. Queues did develop for the toilets, and I'd be interested in seeing how that develops on Saturday, but otherwise all very pleasant.

Very pleased to bump into The Pub Curmudgeon and various other beery people too many to list here. Not least of all was The Tandleman, busy organising of course, it is partly his gig after all. Thankfully I got a chance to discuss a little detail regarding the live beer discussion that is likely to be the most electric discussion on beer so far this century. I've been invited, as part of a "star-studded" panel, to discuss beer with the general public.

Here is the official words off the beer festival website:


Saturday festival-goers can take a foyer seat and join in The Great Manchester Beer Debate, a free discussion on Saturday afternoon, starting at 2.30pm.

If you’re opinionated, interested or passionate about beer and everything associated with making, promoting or just drinking it, we have a star-studded panel for you. Chaired by Connor Murphy – who may take every opportunity to promote the first Manchester Beer Week in June – the panel comprises:

Peter Alexander – our Deputy Organiser who blogs about beer as Tandleman
Dave Bailey – HardKnott Brewery owner, brewer and force majeure
Jerermy Stull – Beermoth co-owner and man of opinions
Mark Welsby – Runaway brewer and non-shrinking violet
We expect it to be a rather more lively affair than the BBC’s fast-fading Question Time, and the Chair hopes that questions will flow – especially from “you, yes you – the chap at the back holding the pint”.

All welcome, no charge.

I'm looking forward to it. Besides, I am hopeful there will be a KeyKeg of our new beer, Brownian Motion 4.5%, a salted smoked porter. CAMRA have moved to a position where they are now allowing KegKegs of beer at festivals. This is one of the first such festivals to take advantage of this splendid compromise, and very welcome from my perspective.

And the co-codamol/alcohol combination? My biggest worry was that Scott got somewhat silly towards the end of our visit to Manchester. Despite my pleas for him not to make me laugh, he simply continued to attempt to do so. The train journey started as a mildly uncomfortable but highly amusing giddy affair which at its pinnacle  resulted in Ann comparing Cliff Richard's on stage energy with that of Mick Jagger. "That is like comparing Budweiser with Infra Red" to which the poor chap we'd been sharing a table with finally cracked up at our inebriated banter.

I was slightly bothered that my own intoxication and painkiller combo would result in masking further aggravation of my rib-cage injury. However, yesterday morning I seemed to have woken up quite well, and today I am, so far, painkiller free. Watch out on Saturday, I might even be fighting fit. It would be irresponsible for me to suggest that codeine and alcohol is a cure-all remedy, but my own selfless research, and statistically insignificant sample of one, might show worthy of further research.

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