Not just here for the beer…..

Here at the Manchester Beer and Cider Festival not only is there the largest collection of ciders and perries in the North of England, but there is also the largest collection of ciders and perries made in the north of England all together.

15 makers, 5 counties, 28 ciders, 3 perries. These ciders and perries are amongst a line up of just over 100 from all over the country.

These Northerly producers are represented specifically because The Manchester Beer and Cider Festival hosts the North of England Cider and Perry Competition each year, bringing together makers from Cheshire, Yorkshire, Manchester, Lancashire, Northumberland, Durham, Merseyside, and Cumbria.


January is Manchester’s favourite

Preview of Manchester Beer and Cider Festival opening to public on Thursday

January may not be the ideal month for a festival to celebrate the best of British drinks. Alongside the traditional slew of New Year resolutions can be added the guilt-laden prohibition, Dry January, which worries brewers and licensees alike. Add the uncertainties of current political machinations, a series of rail strikes affecting leisure travel and headlines warning of extreme weather. You’d be forgiven if you decided this really wasn’t time to put on the North’s biggest beer and cider festival.

But this is Manchester. And we do things differently here…

So the immense space at Manchester Central will again welcome an anticipated 15,000 people keen to sample some of the best and rarest traditional and modern beer and cider styles. Volunteer organisers from the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) have planned this week’s event for the best part of twelve months, looking to improve the visitor experience by introducing new themed bars. But they are also keen to stress their main objective – to have fun.

Photo: James Darcey

Does cask ale have a future?

Great Manchester Beer Debate tackles a thorny subject

The Great Manchester Beer Debate takes place each year on the Saturday afternoon of the festival. There’s no additional charge to attend and get involved, and we hope visitors will take advantage of the opportunity to hear from our experts and contribute to the debate. And to help the conversation, there will even be some free beer.

This year the topic is “The Future of Cask Beer”. Depending on your reading material, the death knell and the revival of cask have been signaled recently – can both be correct? As CAMRA went through the Revitalisation project to the controversial series of votes, some traditionalists claimed it was the end of support for the uniquely British product. Yet as visitors to our festival will note, many brewers are sticking with cask and some who had turned their backs on cask are returning.

We have invited a panel who aren’t afraid to voice their opinions! Sophie Atherton is a well-known freelance beer writer and has the distinction of being Britain’s first female beer sommelier. She authored the Cask Report last year, and provides training, consultancy and PR services to brewers, publicans and the wider beer industry.


Beer Nouveau on Beers From The Wood

Beer NouveauWhen the MBCF team first thought about curating a bar entirely of beers served direct from the wood, the first brewery we approached was Manchester’s own Beer Nouveau. The North Western Street based brewery and room specialises in brewing and maturing beers in the most traditional containers alongside a range of contemporary beers. Owner Steve Dunkley has become a respected guru on the subject of heritage beers and wood ageing.

So when we’d completed the list for the Beers From The Wood Bar, we asked Steve for his thoughts…..

Beer in the Wood isn’t just barrel-ageing and hopefully the bar at Manchester Beer & Cider Festival will be able to highlight the difference and showcase how brewers are using the complexities of wood cask to both recreate heritage styles and develop new flavours.
To help you with an introduction to beer in wood, here’s our own particular “dance card” (excluding our own X for fairness, although you really should try that too!), as @BeersManchester would say!