By Steven Oldham
Ale enthusiasts from around the country flocked to Manchester this weekend for a beer festival held at the Museum of Science & Industry.
The event, organised by the Trafford & Hulme branch of CAMRA (Campaign for Real Ale) was the first of its kind in the museum’s history.
The festival is part of MOSI’s fundraising drive to restore a steam boiler in the popular Power Hall. Engines, trains and waterwheels are amongst some of the exhibits housed there. Sixty percent of the £5 standard entrance fee went to the Museum’s ‘Head of Steam’ project, which aims to raise £50,000 to bring working steam engines back to the Power Hall.
Jo Barber, Events Manager at MOSI, explained: “We need to raise funds because our funding has been reduced. We’re trying new types of events like this because we have to. Given the popularity of the Power Hall with the traditional real ale drinker we thought it was the right place to hold the festival.”
It is the first time CAMRA and MOSI have worked together. Early relations seem very positive and there is talk of making the event annual.
John O’ Donnell, Trafford & Hulme CAMRA publicist, said: “We get asked to do a lot of charity fundraisers. The location here swung it; it’s a brilliant setting to hold a beer festival in.”
Real ale has had a certain image to many people – flat caps and old men. But it is shaking off that image year on year, with more female and younger drinkers turning to beer.
“We’ve noticed more people are coming around to the thought of real ale,” explained Mr O’Donnell. “There’s so much choice out there now people want to try new flavours and support their local run breweries more.”
One such local brewery is Shaw’s, based in Dukinfield, who were commissioned to produce the festival’s house beer.
Neil Hay, Shaw’s joint owner with Phillip Windsor, said: “We’re based in the stables of the original Shaw’s Brewery premises. Nine years ago Phil and I set up a microbrewery there as he owned the property but it wasn’t being used.”
How then did they come to make the house beer? Mr Hay said: “I approached the organisers with the idea. It hadn’t been thought of by anyone else so i was happy to make it. We are proud to have produced Head of Steam.
“We named it after the fundraising drive MOSI are doing and it fits in with the location well given the exhibits here.”
Mr Hay also has emotional connection to the Power Hall. “Before I became self employed I worked at Ferranti’s. There are Ferranti engines and machinery here that are educating the public and I want to help keep it that way.”
With positive feedback all round, it looks like this year’s event could be the first of many.
MEET THE TEAM: Trafford & Hulme branch of CAMRA (Campaign for Real Ale) at the Museum of Science & Industry beer festival
What the drinkers think!
Paul, 35, Old Trafford, Tax Advisor: “It’s brilliant! This place is very atmospheric. It’s good to see the museum diversifying from normal exhibitons.”
Favourite beer tried so far: Hornbeam 4.3%
Kimberley, 29, Manchester, Financial PA: “I’m much more likely to come to a venue like this if an event like a beer festival is going on. The location is central and it’s a good place to socialise.”
Favourite beer tried so far: Broadoak Bristol Port
Martin, 42, Manchester, Unemployed: “I’m a CAMRA member and it’s good to move a festival into a place like this. I’m a cider drinker so it’s good to find some quality stuff up here.
Favourite beer tried so far: Gwent-y-Ddraig KB
Joe, 29, Salford, Marketing: “I’ve been coming to real ale festivals for about five years now and have never been anywhere like this. The last one I went to was at Gigg Lane, Bury FC’s ground. It is a bit disappointing though some of the beers have already sold out.”
Favourite beer tried so far: Hornbeam Top Hop
Melica, 37, Manchester, Legal Secretary: “Most festivals i’ve been to are in boring halls. This is much better. I’m enjoying the surroundings more.”
Favourite beer tried so far: Gwent-y-Ddraig Black Dragon