Bolton Beer Festival (CAMRA) – 24 & 25/04/2014

“The Lord above made liquor for temptation, to see if man could turn away from sin.

The Lord above made liquor for temptation but, with a little bit of luck,

With a little bit of luck, when temptation comes he’ll give right in!”

(“With A Little Bit Of Luck” – My Fair Lady)

(Clip courtesy of  shanmugamlakshmanan – You Tube)

Is My Fair Lady the greatest musical of all time? For me, indubitably! How can you fail to be charmed by Jeremy Brett (one of the better TV Sherlock Holmes) singing   “On The Street Where You Live“? (Surely one of the greatest musical songs of all time itself.) “I Could’ve Danced All Night”? Wouldn’t It Be Lovely”? “I’ve Grown Accustomed To Her Face”? Is there a greater run of classic songs in any film? Lerner & Loewe in fine form. If I had a minor quibble, it would be Julie Andrews’ Broadway Soundtrack voice over Audrey Hepburn (who didn’t actually sing the role, utterly ravishing though she is!)

Rex Harrison, Wilfrid Hyde-White, the stunningly beautiful Audrey Hepburn and, for me the life & soul of the movie, Stanley Holloway!

This was (so far as I am concerned) the greatest album in my wife’s collection that I inhaled into my collection when we got married. It wasn’t even hers either! Philip Wakerley, take a bow sir!

The inspiration for the inclusion of these clips comes from a conversation at the office that featured a pub quiz question from last night “Who is the only man to have won both an Oscar AND a Nobel Prize? A: George Bernard Shaw!

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A brief (for me!) review.

I blame Dan & Gina. It was all their fault. Really it was. I mean, putting temptation in the way of a boy utterly without willpower! I live in Bolton. There is a Beer Festival AND I have Friday off? I simply HAD to go to The Ukrainian Club, didn’t I?

Well, that was part of it. The other part was that Revolutions had put the message out that there was a cask of Manifesto at the festival. Those oh so nice Bolton CAMRA people!

Let me get my one disappointment out of the way. I REALLY wanted it to be in the club. I’d never been in, you see, and I made the assumption….(Assume = Ass U Me!)

The festival was held in what appeared to be like a little “function room” annexe to the Club itself, fairly rectangular, with the entrance and “facilities” at one end and a performance stage at the other and the long – firkin festooned – bar to the left side upon entry.

The beer selection for this bijou festival was mightily impressive! Yes, the best of the most local breweries were represented, with Blackedge, Deeply Vale, Dunscar Bridge, Bank Top, Brightside et al, but there were some impressive “foreign” breweries represented too, including my favourite bottled beer of 2013, Revolutions Manifesto strong stout.

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For drinking purposes, I went along with Atilla on Thursday, primarily to ensure a pint of Manifesto as a number of people who’d been there from opening time tweeted me about how much they were enjoying it. I call it “winding me up”!

To be honest, for the small size of venue, it was disappointingly quiet. The beers that Graham Walsh & the crew had put on were superb, I couldn’t understand it! Made for a really comfortable evening and lots of opportunity to chat with some top people like Dan, Gina and the anarchic Beerhound himself, Tyson. How I envy his verbal economy!

With about 50 beers on draught (about 25% of which were on handpull) I got the chance to sample most of my “priority beers” which were all in perfect condition (and temperature!). These were…

Revolutions Brewing Co  Manifesto (6%) – Black as Hades, rich,deep and luxurious. A big old body with roasted coffee, tobacco, licorice and a balancing bitterness with a hint of bitter chocolate. Everything I wanted and more….More than worth the wait. (Just wish it could have been through a sparkler!);

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Mallinsons Indulgence (3.9%) – Pale gold, a feast of citrus hoppiness from the mistresses of Pale Ales, so sharp and zesty without being a punch in the kisser. Beautifully balanced and so refreshing;

Geltsdale Brewing Co – Sno – A Scandinavian White Beer (a style I can’t say I’m familiar with!) A floral and fruity aroma to this pale beer, fruity and refreshing in the mouth with a dry hoppy finish. recommended to me by Dan if memory serves. (Never had this Cumbrian brewery’s beers before. One to look out for.)

I also worked a session (for 3 hours) on the Friday. First time I had volunteered for a CAMRA festival in over 25 years (when Bolton Beer Fest was the Great North West Beer Fest and it was held on Silverwell Street, remember that anyone?), warmly welcomed and with minimal instructions (I do like a bit of trust!) I was on the bar. 3 hours of fun!

For a short while, I was by far the youngest behind that bar, which felt ever so slightly weird! Then I met Shaun from Wigan Branch, a top bloke who both knew his beer and entertained me for the rest of the evening!

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 I do love working behind a bar and this was good fun. Hard work, but fun. The beers were all in tip-top nick too and perfectly cool given that the room was warming up with more bodies. (Note to self : wet towels on casks still work!)

On my section of the bar, the beers getting the most hammer were – in order:

Dunham Massey – Porter (unsurprisingly, being National Champion Winter Beer 2014); the superb Tipsy Porridge Stout by Deeply Vale and –  towards the end, Railway Porter by Five Points Brewery. (Really fond of that last two me!)

It was nice to finally meet the International man of Mystery that is Deeekos, made my festival did that (thanks again to Dan for identifying him for me!)

This was an excellent bijou wee festival. Small in scale, but big on selection & heart. Nice to be able to hear the chatter of conversation too, without the distraction of a live band. Beer and conversation….there’s a thought! An excellent local festival. Well done Bolton Branch and, in particular Graham, Linda, Pete (Norman Collier) Kobryn and Gill for a) a great fest, well organised and a great beer selection and b) making me feel welcome.

There. I said it would be brief (for me!)

On that note….’til next time…

Slainte!

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