Hordes of real ale enthusiasts will descend on Altrincham for the town’s third annual Bottle and Cask Beer Festival this weekend.
Hosted by Belgian bar Le Trappiste and supported by Trafford and Hulme CAMRA, thirsty revellers will be offered a large selection of cask ales from breweries across the North of England and the Midlands and a comprehensive range of specialist Belgian and European beers, all served in the Altrincham Historic Market.
Highlights of the line-up include Trappist ale Westvleteren 12, voted the world’s best beer three out of the last five years, and three beers from cult Dutch microbrewery De Molen.
Festival-goers will also be able to wash down their tipples with a range of food and performances from local bands over the three days.
Le Trappiste owner and festival organiser Martin Matthews, 51, said: “The Westvletern 12 is magnificent, it’s the world’s best beer! It’s a dark, rich, complex, full-bodied brew.
“It’s also extremely rare. I actually went to the monastery where it’s brewed to buy it myself.
“We’re a specialist Belgian cafe hosting the festival, so the continental selection is loaded towards Belgian beer, but we’ve also got Dutch, Czech and American beers and 44 English cask ales.”
For those who find the prospect of all that beer off-putting, there will also be a selection of specialist cider, perry and wines to sample.
All the festival’s selections come from independent microbreweries, a deliberate decision on Martin’s part.
He said: “This year I’ve sourced all the local stuff myself, though for the Midlands beers I’ve been aided by a brewery in Derbyshire.
“I only deal with micro-breweries, I don’t deal with the big boys. Pubs have deals with chains and suppliers which dictates what they can and can’t sell.
“We will always promote the smaller micros.”
Martin, from Salford, began his love affair with Belgian beer after walking into Le Trappiste in 2004. He loved the place so much he ended up buying it.
The former firefighter has successfully brought a European model of enjoying beer to Altrincham, with Le Trappiste employing a no-standing, table service policy which is a far cry from stereotypical English drinking culture.
Martin said: “The thing I love about Belgian beer is the quality, the diversity and the whole passion they have for brewing and enjoying beer.
“It’s a fantastic way to spend an evening, you take your time and savour the beer rather than drink it. It’s to be enjoyed like a fine wine.”
The festival will also raise money for Sale-based charity Stockdales, which provides residential and support services for disabled children and adults.
Martin said: “When I was in the fire service I went to the centre and it was extremely humbling.
“It makes you think how lucky you are for you and your children to be in good health. It was heart-breaking to see the children.”
Stockdales’ fundraising manager Natalie James said: “We are honoured to be chosen as festival charity for the third year running and really grateful to Martin. It’s great to have his support again.
“Fundraising helps provide money for holidays, equipment, transport and new developments in our services. We’re currently raising money for a minibus.
“Money from the festival will help children and adults with disabilities to have more opportunities, so they can experience as much as possible and are able to live as regular lives as possible. That’s what we’re about.”
The Altrincham Bottle and Cask Beer Festival runs from Saturday until Monday, August 27-29. Entry is £5.00 including a programme and festival glass.
For more information visit www.letrappiste.com/abcfestival/