Manchester Beer and Cider festival pedals into Velodrome… just don’t try to ride home

By Kenny Lomas

Cycling and drinking alcohol is a combination that should always be avoided, but this week Mancunians may just make an exception.

The eighth Manchester Beer & Cider Festival begins today and the ever-growing event has found an unusual new home – The National Cycling Centre, or the Velodrome as it is commonly referred to.

The festival will feature more than 300 craft ales, 75 traditional ciders & perries, and a wide selection of bottled ales and imported beers.

If that doesn’t sound mouth-watering enough, all the beer can be enjoyed while watching Olympian cyclists train round the circuit.

Peter Alexander, the deputy organiser of the event, and the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) chairman for Rochdale, Oldham and Bury, told MM that the choice of venue was unplanned.

“Funnily enough they approached us. We were looking for a new venue because the previous events we held were national events for CAMRA and this of course is a local event,” he said.

 “They approached us and said they had some space for hire and when we came here we just said ‘wow’, we’ve got to have it.

“When you’re inside looking down on the whole thing, it’s absolutely gobsmacking.”

Peter is hoping the unusual venue will help attract people out of curiosity, as well as attracting the usual beer-loving crowd.

“I don’t think people can get their head round the fact that we’re holding a beer festival in an elliptical cycling track,” he said.

“The venue itself will attract a lot people; well that’s certainly what we’re hoping because it really is a magnificent place to come.”

While people may be intrigued to pop in to catch a glimpse of the cyclists who will be training throughout the stage, the main attraction is still undoubtedly the beers.

He said: “We’ve got plenty of beers from all over. We’ve got Marble Brewery, who are one of our own local breweries in Manchester; they’ve got their own bar. We’ve got JW Lees and Bollington from Cheshire.

“We’ve got beers from all over the country, from Scotland, the Isle of Man to the south coast. You name it we’ve got it, all styles, all strengths, something for everybody.”

Marble Breweries project manager Harriet Carr, 24, says a number of the local brewer’s most popular tipples will be on show at the event.

“We have got Dobber, Stouter Stout, Pint, which is our staple session beer, our new ginger beer which is the first time we’ve had it at a festival, and we’ll have our Chocolate Marble, which is our chocolate stout,” she said.

The Marble bar will also be selling Marble’s 6.9% Earl Grey. “Good luck to anybody who tries that one!” Harriet joked.

Harriet thinks that people will be impressed by the sheer scale of the new venue. She said: “There’s literally beer as far as you can see. In the old venue you had to you’d walk round a corner and find a little bar.

“This is now all in front of you and you feel a little bit like a kid in sweetshop.”

Peter Alexander is expecting a variety of people at the event, because, as we reported earlier this month, real ale is no longer restricted to the ‘beardy chaps’.

“We get a lot of female drinkers coming to our events. We’re very female friendly, we think women are a real untapped source for real ale and craft beer, and we want to see more,” he told MM.

“We want to see people come and join us in a safe and friendly environment.”

For more information on the event, click here.

Image courtesy of Peteaylward, with thanks

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