At the end of November 2013 the first in a brand new series of beer festivals will be coming to Manchester when the Chorlton Love Beer Festival opens its doors on Friday the 29th.
From November 29th to December 1st, South West Manchester Cricket Club will play host to more than 30 craft beers – including seasonal offerings and limited editions – all sourced from within a 30 mile radius of the city centre, giving festival goers the chance to sample and delight in the fantastic craft beer explosion that is happening right on their own doorstep. There will also be live music from local acts and mouth-watering street food courtesy of urban street food collective Guerrilla Eats.
I dropped Love Beer Festivals organiser Anthony Waddington a line with a few questions about the origins of the project and the plans for the future. He sent back the following answers, with additional bonus contributions from some of his fellow Love Beer team-mates.
GM Ale News: What is the origin story and philosophy of the project?
Anthony: Love Beer Festivals was an idea which, like all good ideas, started in the pub over a few beers. We were all enjoying some fantastic beers in great beery surroundings at the Gas Lamp on Bridge Street in Manchester and got to talking about a recent Manchester beer festival we had all attended together. We were actually bemoaning the fact that there were so few Manchester beers on offer there, and then it struck us that in a city so rich with excellent breweries that there was no festival in Manchester that was really focusing on what was available right on our doorstep and that’s where the idea developed, in a sort of “well if no one else is doing it why don’t we?” sort of a way.
GM Ale News: Is it a commercial operation or is it just for the love of beer?
Anthony: The project started out purely for the love of beer, a passion which we all share. We wanted an opportunity to promote to the people of Manchester our city’s oft-underexposed and yet fantastic craft breweries and of course we wanted to do that without losing money. As the idea has developed we have quickly realised that we want to do more festivals and up-scale them, and in order to do that of course you need money. So in that respect there is a commercial element to it, but the project is very much rooted in our love of beer.
GM Ale News: Your first festival has a very strong Mancunian flavour. Is that something you plan to maintain or will you be branching out into other regional festivals?
Anthony: Its early days yet and we are all from the Manchester area so Manchester was the natural choice for our first festival – there’s no place like home, as the saying goes – but we are certainly not ruling out other regions. In fact we would love to expose Manchester breweries to the rest of the country. The beauty of beer is in its variety and whilst the focus of this festival is very much on Manchester, going forward we want to be in a position to offer our customers the country’s – nay the world’s – best beers. In fact, even with the Chorlton Love Beer Festival, whilst our cask offerings are all from the Manchester area, we have teamed up with Northern Quarter beer shop Beermoth to offer our customers a hand-picked selection of Belgian and American beers as well. There is just too much good beer out there to ignore.
GM Ale News: What are your plans for 2014? More festivals or are you going to assess the success of CLBF before making any future plans?
Anthony: Our focus is most definitely on Chorlton Love Beer Festival at the moment but we already have plans to host more festivals in 2014. The success of Chorlton Love Beer Festival will of course determine how ambitious those future plans can be but we have very high hopes for the future – so watch this space.
GM Ale News: If you could hold a beer festival anywhere where would it be and why?
Anthony: Circus Maximus, Rome. In the shadow of the Colosseum lies this huge expanse of open space which played host to the Roman Empire’s great chariot races. It’s a huge space with real history right in the heart of the city. The craft beer scene in Italy is just beginning to explode now and they have some fantastic beers there and an open air beer festival in the centre of such a vibrant city that is just beginning its love affair with beer would be as epic as those chariot races it once hosted.
Oliver: Central Park, New York. In the middle of the hustle and bustle of one of the busiest cities in the world is the famous Central Park, a place of tranquillity amongst the madness. As a backdrop to many films (Home Alone 2, Ghostbusters, Men in Black) and TV shows (Sex in the City, Friends) it is probably one of the most iconic open air spaces in the world. With the explosion of the craft beer scene across the USA what better place to hold an open air beer festival in the shadow of some of the most famous, iconic, and tallest buildings around and in the city that never sleeps.
Colin: Munich. In the heart of Bavaria, some consider it to be the spiritual home of beer, with a devotion to the simple art of brewing using only the purest ingredients – traditionally just water, hops and barley – and relying on natural airborne yeast to make the stuff. The spiritual home of beer it may be, but I like to believe that the UK took the idea and truly ran with it and what greater rivalry is there in the world for a versus-style beer festival? England Vs. Germany, one word: epic.
Mike: Chimay, Belgium. As much a pilgrimage as a festival I would love to host a beer tasting in the grounds of the monastery that produces probably the best known Trappist beer in the world. I would live in hope that the monks would allow the pilgrims to taste the highly secretive Patersbier which up until now has only been brewed for the monks living in the monastery. They also make cheese produced from milk from cows that are fed on the mash from the brewing process, the ultimate food pairing!
Alistair: Barcelona. Having visited this great city on a number of occasions now, I never fail to be blown away by the vibrancy and cultural diversity the Catalan capital offers. The craft ale scene is not something which has reached Spain as yet so there will be a huge number of potential palettes waiting to be introduced to the fabulous beers I already love. The cuisine in Barcelona is also of a very high standard and the opportunities for food and beer matching could be considerable.
With vision and ambition like that driving the Love Beer Festivals project, who’s to say that the Rome, New York, Munich, Chimay and Barcelona Love Beer festivals won’t all happen some time in the future? In the meantime, head on down to South West Manchester Cricket Club from November 29th to December 1st for the inaugural Chorlton Love Beer festival to see how the guys cut their festival teeth and get a taste of things to come.