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Parliamentary booze

Dave Bishop celebrates the arrival of a beer from the Manchester hinterlands, Wren's Nest, breaking into Parliament

Published on April 23rd 2008.

Parliamentary booze

After narrowly escaping being killed by a mortar attack on an official visit to the Gaza Strip last week, north west MP Tom Levitt’s latest assignment proved far more relaxing.

The Labour MP for High Peak was on hand to pull pints of an award-winning ale in one of the most exclusive bars in the world.

It is a major parliamentary coup for the men as the Strangers’ Bar is highly selective in the beers it chooses and only a few northern brews make the pumps.

Wren’s Nest bitter, from the Howard Town brewery in Glossop, has just gone on sale in the Strangers’ Bar in the House of Commons, where it is one of two special guest beers over the next three weeks.

And Mr Levitt’s customers, as he took a break from committee meetings and debating in the House, were brewery owners Tony Hulme and Peter Clarke who had made the trip to London specially to taste their ale, which was voted Supreme Champion in last year’s Society of Independent Brewers Awards.

It is a major parliamentary coup for the men as the Strangers’ Bar is highly selective in the beers it chooses and only a few northern brews make the pumps.

“It’s a massive thrill to see it being served in the mother of parliaments,” said Tony Hulme, who founded the brewery three years ago and has fought back to win a clutch of awards after the original building burnt down. “It’s a bit more special than just having a pint at a pub in Stockport or Manchester.

“To be honest, as we were travelling down, I still thought something would happen and it wouldn’t be on. And thankfully, the beer seemed perfect.”

And Mr Levitt, downing a half himself, endorsed the beer’s special qualities.

“It’s a nice, light colour and tastes really fruity and fresh,” he said. “The bar manager tells me in the first day it’s been on the members have really enjoyed it – in fact outselling the more famous brand on the other pump.”

Joining in the banter at the bar was Lib-Dem MP for Solihull, Lorely Burt, who sits with the All-Party Parliamentary Beer Group. And she agreed the beer had been a hit.

“It’s great to see these smaller breweries doing so well and making it to the Commons. I hear it’s been very popular.”

After enjoying their drinks, Mr Levitt took the brewery owners and Mr Hulme’s son Robin on to the famous terrace overlooking the Thames and treated them to a tour of Parliament.

Later the party spent time in the Strangers’ Gallery to listen to debates on public transport.

Howard Town produces a range of cask-conditioned ales, including Stockport County bitter, which for every pint sold sees 10p going towards the football club’s campaign to buy back its Edgeley Park ground.

Visit www.howardtownbrewery.co.uk to see the full range of beers

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