Sunday, 10 May 2015

On Your Bike!

The Manchester Beer & Cider Festival, which for the last two years has taken place in the unusual surroundings of the National Cycling Centre (NCC) in Manchester, known as the Velodrome, has been unable to agree dates for next year's festival with British Cycling, the main tenants of the building. The festival's organiser Graham Donning said: "This is extremely disappointing. The Velodrome has made an excellent setting for Manchester’s premier beer and cider event and both CAMRA and the NCC management wanted to continue to build on the success of the event." Full story here.

My impression from what I've read is that British Cycling simply didn't want the event there at all and placed barriers in the way of any attempts to compromise, even though the NCC was keen. This festival, when it was the National Winter Ales Festival, has moved before so I think we can be fairly confident a new venue will be found.

I paid my first, and now only, visit to this venue this year. It is strange drinking beer while cyclists hurtle around the track at incredibly high speeds, but once you get used to that, it is very enjoyable. Unusually for a CAMRA festival nowadays, it takes cash rather than tokens. The possible snag here is that volunteers who work at other beer festivals are likely to be more accustomed to dealing with tokens: at least, that is my explanation for being given change for £15 when I handed over a £20 note to buy a pint. From an organisational point of view, cash bars are labour intensive and you need loads of change to ensure your tills don't run out, but if they can handle that - as it seems they can - it's not a problem that need concern the customer. There is also a session when CAMRA members get in free, a perk that some CAMRA festivals are discontinuing nowadays.

Let's see what next year brings.

While there, I saw a stall for Real XS Radio ("Your Classic Rock Station") with two empty guitar racks in front of it. The sign read: "Free air guitars - please take one".


  1. I too am sad to see the event move away from what must have been one of the most unusual venues for a beer festival in the country.

    As to where it ends up, I'm hoping for a return to the city centre, having enjoyed attending it, in its Winter Ales incarnation, at Campfield Market and the CIS Building

  2. Cash CAMRA festivals aren't that unusual. Not in the North West at least. All the ones in and around Manchester are all cash.

    The loss of the Velodrome is very disappointing. Finding a suitable venue in the centre is extremely difficult as all of the old options are no longer viable. However, I know the organisers are working hard on it.


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