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The SIBA Great Northern Beer Festival Is Upon Us

Neil Sowerby talks to Alex Brodie about the glug, glug, good booze bonanza

Published on October 26th 2011.


The SIBA Great Northern Beer Festival Is Upon Us
“BEER served in the proper manner, the way God intended.” Great soundbite. Former BBC foreign correspondent Alex Brodie is on the frontline once again. Early dispatches from the organiser of the second Great Northern Beer Festival suggest the old ale drinking regime has just got liberated.
 
A far remove from church halls and drafty tents, the Mercure Manchester Piccadilly Hotel (formerly the Ramada Jarvis) will this week host a “posh” beer festival like no other, showcasing 250 cask ales from 80 breweries, including Brodie’s own, Hawkshead.
 
That Lakes-based operation – singled out by the 2012 Good Beer Guide for its enterprise and innovation – should be enough for any man, but its founder is driven. By a desire to celebrate a golden age of brewing in the North. 
 
A celebration that should involve 18,000 pints pulled from a range of 64 hand pumps over three days, Thursday-Saturday (October 27-29). More than 3,000 beer enthusiasts are expected to pack the Mercure’s International Suite. 
 
Alex says: “The Great Northern Beer Festival is true taste of the brewing revolution in the North. No warm beer, no dirty glasses and no flat beer. It’s proper Northern beer with a proper Northern head, served through proper hand pumps at proper cellar temperature and in a clean glass every time.
  
“Moreover it’s at the city’s Mercure Piccadilly Hotel, right in the centre of Manchester. All these elements are what it makes it so different and considerably posher compared to other beer festivals.
 
“The traditional British pint is undergoing a revival with drinkers shunning high volume produced beers and switching to high quality local brews, with women making up 32 per cent of real ale converts.”

Alex BrodieAlex Brodie

The beers, in a kaleidoscope of styles, have been donated free of charge by breweries in the northern branch of SIBA (Society of Independent Brewers).
In a major logistical coup, CAMRA Manchester branches have created a working temperature-controlled cellar in the hotel’s mezzanine floor. This is to provide optimum conditions for serving the cask ale hand-pulled through sparklers (Alex doesn’t like flat beer). The eight winners of a daytime beer judging will be on offer from Thursday evening.
 
The SIBA Great Northern Beer Festival, Mercure Piccadilly Hotel, Piccadilly Garden. October 27-29, Thurs 4pm-10.30pm, Fri noon-10.30pm, Sat oon-10.30pm. Entertainment from Dr Butler’s Hatstand Medicine Band on Saturday evening. Entry £2 (£1 for CAMRA membs), inc refundable souvenir glass. For more information visit: www.siba.co.uk/gnbf.
 

Hawkshead Brewery 

 

For more about Hawkshead Brewery, Staveley, and its state of the art Beer Hall visit www.hawksheadbrewery.co.uk, where you can learn about globe-trotting newshound Alex Brodie’s exotic path to beer supremo: 
 
“In Iran, it was Heineken from a tea pot. In Pakistan, he had to register as a Christian to get beer from the Murree Brewery. In Mexico City, Dos Equis hit the spot. The USA, meant Sam Adams Boston Lager. And when home in the UK became The Lake District, fell walks would be contrived to end with pints (impossible to drink just one) of session Bitter from Cumbria's first micro, Yates.”

 

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Anonymous

Agreed, a right dump

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Anonymous

Who remembers The King? Now that was a pub, before the NQ was the NQ. No hipsters in there.

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Anonymous

Yet people pay 20 pounds plus for terrible American burgers at other places in the northern quarter…

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Anonymous

Particularly Canal street, I believe that someone saw a gay man and a lesbian down there last week.…

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