Last night, spurred on by the prospect of meeting the legend that is Old Mudgie, I caught the train from the sprawling metropolis of Crewe and headed for the CAMRA and trade session at MBCF 2017.
Armd with both my trade invite and my CAMRA card, in traditional British fashion I joined the queue at 5.30.
After some light shuffling an avuncular volunteer ventured out and hustled CAMRA members into a new queue , waving us all in and leaving the rather bemused “trade” invitees to contemplate their secondary status.
This minor blip apart, the level of thought and effort on the part of organisers and volunteers is extraordinary. 700 beers and ciders together under one roof, with bars and dispense systems assembled from scratch, is a fantastic effort.
I also hadn’t appreciated the effort that goes into distributing this session’s tickets around local pubs and their customers.
I’m sure I won’t be the last to congratulate and thank all the organisers and volunteers.
It was interesting to see a KeyKeg bar near the entrance, particularly as there were no garlic cloves or exorcisms in evidence. It was pretty busy as well, with about 20 brewers represented and a healthy crowd of hipsters and curious oldsters.
I pottered over to the Family Brewers’ Bar and started with a Harvey’s Best, as I don’t remember having drunk this previously and it is the regular subject of misty eyed eulogies in the blogosphere.
I wasn’t disappointed, a really balanced traditional bitter, crystal clear and quite possibly my favourite beer of the show.
I won’t bore you, dear reader, with views on each beer sampled, but I will admit to a couple of disappointments.
Stubborn Mule are based in nearby Timperley and are now having a go at cask after a period brewing mainly for bottling. I thought that, with their Absolute Banker (4.7%), they were trying a bit too hard, with too many conflicting flavours for me.
I was also looking forward to trying St Austell’s Bombay Steamer Porter (5.3%), the latest in their Small Batch range, especially having enjoyed their Borbon and Vanilla Stout over Christmas. Whether it was the use of Golding hops, I don’t know , but it was too bitter even for me and had an unfortunate burnt tasted which wasn’t really for me.
More positively,particularly recommended to my reader are Brewsmith Galaxy (a 3.9% pale ale) and Tiny Rebel Fubar (a golden ale at 4.4% that I’d not seen before).
Special thanks to the girl on the Tiny Rebel bar who swilled out my glass before pouring.
Summoned by Mudgie to the pork pie stand, it was a pleasure to meet not only him but also “Cooking Lager ” (to his many fans) and the legend that is Erlanger Nick, whose grappling with two pulled pork baps appeared to presage some minor indiscretions later in the evening.
Fortunately by that time I had moved on, pausing to admire the hard core lining up at the cider bar for some high ABV treats
Having left myself enough time to limp back to Piccadilly, I managed to squeeze in a pint of Heavy Industry Electric Mountain (a 3.8% bitter) and very nice it was too.