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A Tale of Two Beer Festivals (in one city)

26th January, 2018 by Daniel

I hadn’t been to a Beer festival in years until this month when I’ve been to two in the space of a week. So it’s only right to compare and contrast them right?

Two very different festivals with I think different audiences, reach and feel but one thing in common – a passion for providing a variety of interesting beer.

Both venues are inextricably linked to the city’s railway history, both quite apt and suited to each site I think. The Grub hosted  Winter Beer Fest (#wbf18 was the requisite hashtag) was at ‘Fairfield Social Club’ – a new space that’s been carved out in the redevelopment of the disused Mayfield railway station (services ended for passengers in 1960, goods in 1986). The CAMRA hosted Manchester Beer and Cider Festival (#mbcf18, 650+ beers…) was held at Manchester Central, which has had better fortunes since closing to passengers getting refurbished in 1982 and being in almost constant use for a variety of events ever since. So the two venues belie the natures of each festivals I think. One is much more established than the other, has a following – the other is close to the roots of the nascent regeneration of the beer culture in the city – not to say these two are adversarial, not at all – many Breweries were present at each and each organisation definitely affects the other on the issues they want to be tackled by the industry, inclusiveness was something definitely being taken note of at the CAMRA festival. Some of the producers at the Grub festival restarting Cask production for the CAMRA festival.

One festival might be for their regulars, the other seen as getting the word out? The CAMRA festivals seems certainly to have brought many Brewers to ‘tour’ Manchester with many bars having tap takeovers from those present at the festival (tiny rebel @ unit 101 / hawkshead @ the knott and over at the font for Track to barely scratch the surface), whilst they are up north I guess.

There’s probably another post of writing about how the railways are supporting beer in Manchester, it seems that the numerous arches the city has are doing their bit to ‘incubate’ the burgeoning sector. Network Rail must be doing pretty well out of the beer business these days.


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