Last week saw the 26th return of the
UMIST Manchester RAG beer festival which meant a trip back to Club Underground. I’ve been every year since 2004 and ran the 2006 festival so I have quite an attachment to it. The festival currently sees around 70 ales, 12 ciders, a crazy range of home-flavoured vodkas (including the legendary vegan friendly smoky bacon!) and making a welcome return for the first time since 2006, some foreign lagers.
Being a student run beer festival it has quite a different attitude and atmosphere compared to the CAMRA run festivals. Firstly there is music – not always a good thing when the DJ is taking requests! There’s generally more hustle bustle and noise. But it doesn’t detract from the fact that this is a great gathering for students to try traditional English ale served by gravity from the cask, even if they may call a cask a keg and not yet really appreciate the product they are sampling.
This year due to increased glass prices (so I’m told, anyway) weedy half pint glasses were used. Bit of a shame… in my opinion as they are measure to brim rather than to line leading to easy spillage. Beer-wise, as I attended on the last night some beer was good and some beer less than good. A few of the local breweries (Marble, Holts, Robinsons) were represented alongside the larger well known brands (Wychwood, Brew Dog, Black Sheep). Price per half? – variable between £1.20 and £1.70 (Robinson’s Old Tom!) – so very reasonable.
Most importantly, not long into Friday night and it did get really busy – so we should have some ale drinkers for tomorrow!
The Manchester RAG beer festival runs usually in November in the week after reading week. See their website for details!