Glastonbury 2002’s over. Just the stragglers still dispersing as the litter clearers descend. The wag who flew a ‘Work Event’ flag by the Pyramid stage has furled it up and taken it home with his washing, probably still humming ‘Hey Jude’.
My big festivals preview was about the beer variety. Hence my rallying cry: ‘Go Aleish, not Eilish!’ Though several fests have already been and gone the thirst for such communal participation shows no sign of abating and what is great to see is the emphasis on championing our local brewing operations.
Prominent among these is Track Brewing Co, which has never looked back since upsizing from its Piccadilly railway arch to large and stylish new brewery and taproom in Ardwick, Manchester. . They seem to be leading the way with collabs with other breweries and recently significantly upgraded their food offering by hosting a kitchen takeover by Liverpool-based restaurant group Maray, who are close to opening their new Manchester venue in Lincoln Square.
Food is a big deal in the first of two further Manchester mini-festivals they are helping generate this summer. Beers In The Garden will take place in Platt Fields on Friday and Saturday, July 8-9, curated by Track and Cheltenham’s Deya and featuring stellar names such as North Brewing, Burning Sky, Verdant, Pressure Drop, Newbarns, Donzoko and, a personal fave, St Mars of the Desert.
The food on offer? Pizza from Honest Crust and barbecue from Where The Light Gets In. The MUD kitchen will prepare dishes using ingredients from the garden there and Levenshulme’s ISCA will offer seasonal dishes and natural wines. The will be four sessions; tickets at £10 available here.
On Saturday, August 27, celebratinga successful first nine months in their new home on the Piccadilly Trading Estate (and the arrival of their beer garden), Track bring us Welcome to the Neighbourhood. There are two sessions with tickets £40 a head, to include all DRAUGHT beer at the festival, a glass and a programme. Tickets available here.
For your money you’ll have access to beers from an amazing array of North West stars – including Track, of course, Rivington, Sureshot, Balance, Red Willow, Pomona Island, Chain House, Bundobust, Squawk, Runaway, Cloudwater and Blackjack – plus DJ and street food.
The first four days in September see the bucolic Farm Trip festival. Venue a hilltop farm-based brewery above Horwich I have lauded previously For its outstanding views and brews – Rivington (founder Ben Stubbs, above). Their first Trip was hastily assembled in 2021; the follow-up is more measured, promising 120 beers poured through 41 lines. Do check it out.
It’s a nice little autumn chaser before the eagerly anticipated return of Indy Man Beer Con at Victoria Baths (September 29-October 2), the UK’s best craft beer festival. Capitalising on its absence last year, the Manchester Craft Beer Festival, is heading back to Mayfield Depot, across the weekend of July 22-23. Expect fire pit food and sizzling sounds from Goldie and David Holmes. All a bit high octane for me and to get full value beerwise out of the £55 session ticket you have to be a very canny queue hopper. The likes of Marble, Track and Union Lager are representing Manchester, but this is very much a national brand that straddles several UK cities.
Before then another metropolitan cuckoo descends. Camden Town Brewery Tank Party Roadshow is nesting at neighbouring Escape to Freight Island on Friday, June 24 and Saturday 25.A single brewery tour hardly counts as a festival really, even coming with its own raft of DJ and street(ish) food. The selling point is its unfiltered version of Hells Lager with an estimated 23,000 pints being poured ‘fresh from the tank’ during the Party’s parade across the UK. Camden’s owners, ABV Inbev, the world’s largest brewing operation, sure know how to market a very ordinary product.
I’d recommend, in these difficult times for our breweries: Think Local, Drink Local.