Today sees the start of the National Winter Ales festival in Manchester. This is an annual event to match the Great British Beer festival in London in the summer, and is a showcase for many brewers up and down the country to show off their talents, especially regarding (naturally) their winter selections. There is an admission charge per session however.
Running in tandem with this, many of the local pubs in Manchester and Salford hold their own festivals, so this week Manchester is literally awash with beer.
I have read of festivals at the Crescent, the New Oxford, and the Black Lion in Salford. All an easy walk, or easier bus ride from Manchester Centre. The Crescent has been on since Monday and their list shows a least 4 beers unique to the pub. The lists at the others have yet to be finalised but if previous experience is anything to go by, they should be worth a look.
In the Northern Quarter, and therefore nearer the Winter Ales Festival, there is a festival at the Smithfield on Swan St with an amazing selection of rare beers judging by the list. Visits to the Bar fringe across the road, and the Angel, round the corner should also provide even more variety from what I have seen published. Not forgetting The Crown & Kettle and the Marble there should be something for everyone's taste without having to walk far.
All in all, well worth a day of anyone's time to visit and sample what is on offer. Just hope I can make it.
The Winter Ales festival is held till Saturday evening at the Sheridan suite, 'The Venue', Oldham Rd, Manchester.M40 8EA. Admission is generally £3 per session.