On Saturday we went to the Manchester Beer & Cider Festival, one of the largest beer festivals in the UK. It took place at the Manchester Velodrome, which is part of the National Cycling Centre and was a major venue for the 2002 Commonwealth Games in Manchester.
The beer festival was the largest I’ve been to. Admittedly I haven’t been to many beer festivals, but with 300 beers and 75 ciders and perries (pear ciders), this was an order of magnitude bigger than anything I’d seen before.
Except, we went on Saturday, which was the last day – the festival ran over four days. The previous three days had been ‘unexpectedly popular’ and so by the time we arrived, around three quarters of the beers had been drunk and were sold out. Still, with 70-odd beers to try, there was still much to drink. At least until 3:30pm, by which point all of the beer had been consumed, leaving just a handful of ciders and perries to try in the half hour before time was called at 4pm – three hours earlier than planned.
Still, it was a really good day out, and it was good to visit the Velodrome, which will be 20 years old this year. Admittedly it wasn’t the best venue for a beer festival – the main festival floor with the bars was in the centre of the track, and most of the seating was around the edges of the track. To get between the two, you were required to descend three flights of stairs, pass through a subway and then ascend another flight of stairs. But it offered some great panoramic photo opportunities, as shown above.
I think it will be a while before I visit such a big beer festival again. The ‘big daddy’ of beer festivals is The Great British Beer Festival at Olympia in London, which usually coincides with a very busy period at work, although it’s earlier this year so perhaps not.
We also popped in to The Moon Under Water pub in Manchester, a Wetherspoons pub which holds the Guinness World Record for being Britain’s’ biggest pub (and rumoured to be the biggest in Europe). It can hold 1700 people and is even important enough to have its own Wikipedia article, which explains the origin of its name.