Beer festival is back and hailing Wigan Casino

Wigan’s real ale fans have cause to raise a glass in celebration as the countdown to the borough’s biggest beer bash of the year is on.
Wigan CAMRA members, Jo Ashton, left, and Brian Gleave, at the launch of the 32nd Wigan Beer FestivalWigan CAMRA members, Jo Ashton, left, and Brian Gleave, at the launch of the 32nd Wigan Beer Festival
Wigan CAMRA members, Jo Ashton, left, and Brian Gleave, at the launch of the 32nd Wigan Beer Festival

Wigan Camra Beer Festival was officially launched this week with the 32nd edition of the popular event celebrating not one but two great institutions of the town.

That’s because the three-day celebration of all things hopped, which takes place at the usual location of Robin Park Sports Centre, has a Northern Soul theme to celebrate 45 years since the opening of the iconic Wigan Casino venue.

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Breweries have been rifling through their record collections for inspiration for special brews which take their places alongside more than 100 real ales and craft beers from around the world and 20 ciders and perries.

All the Wigan breweries will be well represented with the rest of the list showcasing the strength of the real ale scene across the North of England and further afield.

Wigan Camra branch chairman Sandy Motteram said: “It’s going to be another fantastic event. This is the one event we in Wigan Camra all look forward to setting up, operating and then taking down again.

“We want people to keep coming back and we believe we put on a good-quality festival people enjoying returning to year on year but we’re always looking for ways to create more interest.

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“We want to attract people who haven’t tried much real ale or real cider before as a beer festival is one of the bes places to explore.”

Sandy has teamed up with Wigan Brewhouse in the town centre to produce All-Nighter, an unusual black IPA which takes it name from the legendary events at Wigan Casino where Northern Soul enthusiasts would dance until dawn.

Other appropriate concoctions for this year’s theme from the team in the old AllGates’ brewery include Casino, a hoppy blonde ale, and session beer Tempo.

All the other Wigan breweries will be present and correct with the likes of Prospect and Martland Mill bringing some of their most established and popular brews.

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Clay Brow Nano Brewery from Skelmersdale, meanwhile, will make a festival debut with an American-style IPA and a breakfast stout while Hindley concern Hophurst is bringing the Porteresque which won a major award at the recent Manchester Beer and Cider Festival.

There will also be plenty of classic Northern Soul tracks played for drinkers to listen to over the three days of the event and a packed programme of live entertainment is being put together.

As ever Wigan Transport Trust will be running a fleet of vintage buses to take drinkers from the town centre to the festival site.

There are, however, a couple of new additions with a low-level bar for those in wheelchairs or who struggle to see the choice of ales and the new Wigan Ale Map.

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Listing 22 of the finest places to quaff real ale around the borough, anyone who gets stamps from 10 pubs and then brings the map to the festival gets free entry and a complimentary pint while enthusiasts who reach every watering hole on the list get a package of VIP goodies.

Wigan Camra Beer Festival is on at Robin Park Sports Centre from Thursday February 28 to Saturday March 2.

Sessions run 5.30pm to 11pm on Thursday, with entry free, 12pm until 11pm on Friday with entry £1 before 6pm and £3 afterwards and 11.30am until 9.30pm on Saturday for £2. Camra members get into all sessions free.