Bigger, better – and back next year

Beer festival organisers announce a return to Manchester Central in 2018

Beer lovers in Manchester kept their part of a promise to make the Manchester Beer and Cider Festival bigger and better than before.

Organised by the combined expertise of the nine Greater Manchester branches of the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA), drinkers poured in to the city centre venue last month to enjoy the 756 beers and ciders served at 22 bars. They despatched a staggering 62,000 pints at the three day festival, a rate of almost 27 pints a minute!

Now the biggest event of its kind in the North, the festival is a labour of love for the 343 volunteers, the majority of whom were drawn from local CAMRA branches. They built, served and took down the huge event over eight days, with a time lapse video posted on YouTube proving popular.

The annual event moved to Manchester Central last year, and organisers have been delighted by the response from beer fans. Organiser Graham Donning said: “Manchester Central is the perfect venue for our festival. It’s right in the heart of the city, itself a booming centre of brewing excellence. We’ve had great support from the venue team, who I know have been stunned by the professionalism of our volunteers. And most importantly, our customers love coming here and trying so many excellent brews.

“So we’re delighted to announce we will be back at Manchester Central from Thursday 25th to Saturday 27th January 2018.”

Visitors and volunteers were both asked to vote for their beer of the festival. Drinkers made Bad Kitty, a 5.5% porter from Brass Castle brewery in North Yorkshire their top tipple. Volunteers stayed local and voted their favourite Sonoma, a 3.8% golden ale brewed by Track in the railway arches by Piccadilly station. Both breweries supported the festival by bringing their own branded bars. And another first-time brewery bar at the festival, Tiny Rebel from Newport in South Wales was a huge hit with festivalgoers – one in 20 beers supped at the festival were served from its bar.

Festival beer orderer John O’Donnell said: “This month is traditionally a difficult time for the brewing industry. Our festival showcases some of the best beers from Britain and abroad and our drinkers certainly chased away the January blues.  We hope this encourages people to support their local pubs and clubs throughout the year. CAMRA has several fantastic local festivals coming up, well worth visiting to resample some of the popular pints we’ve served.”

There was a record range of foreign and bottled beers, with the equivalent of over 4,400 pints enjoyed by visitors. Alongside favourites Belgium, Germany and the Czech Republic, the Netherlands proved a hit with drinkers looking to sample the best of mainland Europe.

On the cider and perry bar, 4,000 pints were sold over the three days of the festival, with Friday’s drinkers seeing off the stock of Hogan’s Elderflower (Warwickshire), Green Valley Rum Tiddly Tum (Devon), Stockport’s own Madhatter cider and 20 others. From the North’s largest ever selection, Saturday’s drinkers still had a staggering 66 to chose from.  Grumpy John’s from Shipley, West Yorkshire was chosen by visitors as the cider of the festival, with Gwatkin’s Farmhouse (Herefordshire) picking up the perry award.

DSC_2480The CAMRA membership stand was also busy signing up 334 new members including the consumer organisation’s 185,000th member, Katy Molyneux from Stockport.

Work for the organising team is not quite over. Graham Donning said: “We’ve had some wonderful plaudits from visitors, but we are our own biggest critics. Volunteer managers will report on what we could do better in future. We are determined to make this festival an irrestistible choice for Britain’s beer lovers.”

One change already on the cards is a change of head organiser. Graham announced that his ten years in charge of the premier beer festival in the city (initially the National Winter Ales Festival and for the last four years, Manchester Beer and Cider Festival) is coming to an end. The team is looking for a successor to manage the 2018 festival.

Further information:

David Rigby
press (at)

Notes to editors:

  1. More details on our Manchester Beer and Cider Festival website,
  2. The festival was open to the public from Thursday 19th to Saturday 21st January 2017.
  3. CAMRA membership compared to political parties based on figures (
  • Labour Party – 515,000
  • Campaign for Real Ale – 185,000
  • Conservative Party – 149,800
  • SNP – 120,000
  • Liberal Democrats – 76,000
  • Green Party – 55,500
  • UKIP – 39,000
  1. Drinkers supped 62,000 pints across all bars, an increase from the 60,000 recorded in 2016. Total visitor numbers were down slightly from 14,804 to 13,588.
  2. The festival time lapse video is here:
  3. The festival bars were:
  • three huge bars serving the best of British cask beer (259)
  • a cider and perry bar, mead and country wines (105)
  • 13 branded brewery bars, dedicated to serving their own beers (93)
  • a Key-keg bar serving modern beers in a different format (37)
  • two Bière Sans Frontières bars, one for German/Belgian/Czech beers, and another for Rest of the World (92)
  • a bottle bar featuring UK and overseas beers in bottle (106)
  • new for 2017, an Independent Family Brewers bar (68)

(figures in brackets are numbers of beers/ciders etc)

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