Beer should never be the subject of the conversation, but the lubricant that facilitates it.
Yes. I say this without any trace of hypocrisy. I am firmly within that “beer bubble” also its sub-species “The Manchester Bubble”.
I say this also as someone who reviews small pack beers from the comfiest of sofas, which – although I haven’t for over nearly 12 months – will be back shortly. With a twist. And a singular purpose.
But back to the top. The social lubricant. Fun. Smiling. Laughing. Conversation. Friends. To me, that’s what beer is about. Which brings me to my Unmissable Trilogy of drinks events – which all happen within a 4 week period.
Last weekend was The Road To Wigan Beer.
I’ve written about this before. Several times. To the extent that several members of my social circle jump onboard.
And they enjoy it. Hugely. Why?
Because it’s fun.
Yes there is good beer. But it’s about exploring an area – in this case Wigan – and getting to try a few local pubs that even if you lived in Wigan, you might never get to try.
It’s about promoting pubs. Supporting locals. And it has done so did a number of years. A good idea yeah?
These places are at the heart of local communities. They are the soul, the pulse, in some ways they form one of the ties that bind people together. The essence of “Community”.
This is the second “fun bus” in a row that has sold out. People have started to get what Jaz & I have always got.
Getting to pubs as diverse in character yet equally special as The Crooke Hall Inn (Crooke village) and The Hare & Hounds (Hindley) – two of my very favourite pubs – is always going to make me smile.
One (The Crooke) is exquisitely located on the banks of the Leeds – Liverpool canal. The other (The Hare) is simply the most local of locals. Two rooms, dartboard, great beer, two minutes from the local train station.
The sun simply made the day that little bit more special.
It was a lovely day. And I’ll never miss it as long as it continues and I’m healthy.
Then. This weekend. Came the second part of the Trilogy.
Berries, Beans and Beer.
It’s name sums it up. It’s not a beer festival. It’s a drinks celebration. Encompassing Gin, Coffee, Beer & Rum. In that order.
And. Of course. Stan. And his increasing legion of “Stan Fans”.
And the thing is, once you take something away from simply “Beer”, you democratise it. Make it more inclusive. And accessible. And “Berries” was certainly that.
I volunteered for Berries last year. I believed in Michelle, what she was trying to achieve. Putting together an event which could do something different, something that hadn’t been done in the area before.
And it was a lovely event. In a quirky – totally Crewe – venue. The Railway Heritage Centre.
But this year was different. Some things take time to build.
This year Michelle nailed it.
I was there with a group of friends who trust what I say. And when I said that we really should go, they bought train tickets.
The beers were excellent. I focused on breweries likely to be invited to #ISBF5 and enjoyed some beauties – to the extent that one or two additions to the list were necessary.
But this event is about so much more than beer. The Gin and Rum bars took a hammering. Otters Tears did a brisk trade, with some fabulous beers in can and bottle (we *might* have grabbed some train beers…)
This is possibly the “Beer” event that has attracted the widest demographic I’ve been to, across ages and gender. And that’s because – as someone said to me – “once you take it away from beer, it becomes less of a man thing”. And they were so right.
To pull this event off in a place like Crewe is simply astonishing.
To make it SO successful is exceptional.
I – for one – truly hope that she does it next year.
That’s RTWB & BBB taken care of. In just over two weeks we get the best little beer festival I know.
EWF – The East West Fest.
Less than 20 cask conditioned beers.
A Red Shed.
And my favourite beer festival.
There some simply ludicrous beers that have no place at such a small festival such as an Imperial Smoked Mild and Imperial Raspberry and Bergamot Blonde. Pineapple Milkshake Pales….
It’s special. That’s all I can say.
Last year, some friends believed me, they travelled over. And stayed a night. This year they’re staying the whole weekend.
The thing that ties these three events together is that “social” thing. Conversation, smiles, laughter. Yes, the beer is good, but it’s not just that. It’s the people you spend that time with, drink that beer with.
Beer isn’t – and should never be – divisive. It simply isn’t that important. It isn’t (to paraphrase Bill Shankly “more important than life or death”.
People are. The friends you drink it with. Cherish those moments.