Sunday, 6 March 2011

Triumph of the Pieman!

Before opening on Thursday
I arrived home just before midnight last night after another successful Wigan Beer Festival. I've worked at Wigan for many years now and have always enjoyed the friendly atmosphere.  The beer, as is usual with beer festivals, was in good condition, but when I'm working at a festival, I tend not to experiment very much - you are, after all, there to do a job.  In my case, I spent some time behind the bar, and on the doors. 

On Thursday, I was asked to help judge beers in the golden ales category of the regional bout of the Champion Beer of Britain competition.  I was sitting next to the Mayor of Wigan, Michael Winstanley, who joined CAMRA at last year's festival.  He was very cheerful and told me that not all his civic duties were as pleasant as this one, which I can well believe.  I gave him a copy of Ale & Hearty, our Southport CAMRA mag, so no doubt his joy will now be boundless.  A surprisingly varied bag of golden ales were served up to us, anonymised of course, and the results were:
    A few hours later
  1. Cumbrian Legendary Ale Loweswater Gold.
  2. Southport Golden Sands.
  3. George Wright Pure Blonde.
I was interested to see that my own first and second was the same as the final result.

I was struck by the number of young people present compared to some other festivals, including the presence of several all-women groups.  I didn't ask them, but I suspect that if they'd had to queue for tickets on a cold winter morning three months earlier, they wouldn't have been there.  Some went for the cider and perry bar or the foreign beers, but quite a fewwere trying the ales.

Beer running low on Saturday night
There was some good music on: jazz, rockabilly and a rock covers band on Saturday, and there was a Northern Soul night on Friday when I wasn't there.  Unfortunately the sound quality of the venue isn't good, but there's nothing that can be done about that, and it didn't seem to hinder the pleasure of those who wanted to listen.

On Saturday, some of my friends rolled up, so I spent a while having a chat to them.  By the evening the beer was running very low, although the festival didn't actually run out; I had been wondering whether it might.

As I reached Wigan Wallgate Station to catch the last train to Southport, there was a group of three policemen standing at the entrance.  As I approached, they looked me up and down and one said: "Wigan Beer Festival?" "Yes," I replied. "Thought so - I could tell by your nose!" at which the other two cracked up.

Told you - Wigan's friendly.

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