Hoppy Hour - Bring on another busy year in beer

Wigan Beer Festival falls in early March and volunteers are required
Wigan Beer Festival falls in early March and volunteers are required

As this column is written we stand on the cusp of another year, but by the time many readers pick up the newspaper 2020 will be in full flow.

And it looks like in the real ale world the handpulls and keg taps will be metaphorically on full flow from the word go.

It’s already shaping up to be another exciting year in the land of all things hopped, especially in this area where real ale fans get to enjoy a number of big and high-profile beer events in the opening months of the year.

First, though, there is the opportunity to enjoy a few last festive ales before they disappear from the bar for another 12 months.

This year’s crop has not been a bad one, with plenty of brews coloured red or amber toting plenty of ginger, cinnamon and other festive flavours to them, topped off with some hilarious or groan-inducing puns in the names.

And a special mention must go to Manchester cult favourites Cloudwater, who have branched out spectacularly from the American-style hazy, fruity IPAs which made their name to produce their seasonal beer One Slice To Yule Them All, a mighty-looking imperial stout weighing in well over the 10 per cent mark.

Once that has been enjoyed, though, it’s time to look straight ahead into the New Year as real ale fans here will wish to begin marking their diaries as soon as possible.

It all gets under way later in January with Manchester Beer and Cider Festival at Manchester Central, which has become something of an event for the whole of Greater Manchester to attend and is something of an annual high point on the regional scene.

Hot on the heels of that comes the Bent ‘n’ Bongs Beer Bash in early February, once again being held in the enjoyable and rather quirky retro surroundings of Atherton Roller Rink.

And then early in March comes Wigan Beer Festival at Robin Park Leisure Centre, with its bar split between light and dark and a good selection of beers from the borough’s vibrant brewing scene, ales from across the country and some exotic brews from further afield in the international corner.

By the way, if anyone is considering not simply supping their way through the festival this year the organising committee is in need of volunteers to get in touch urgently.

There are an array of jobs which need to be done at an event like this, from getting the place set-up to actually serving the dozens of different brews and advising on what guests might enjoy to going in on the Sunday and getting the whole works dismantled again.

So if you think one of these might be the role for you, please consider helping out and get in touch with the festival team at http://beerfestival.wigancamra.org.uk/volunteer-form