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 Chorlton Beer Festival 2007 - A Bar Manager's View

Once again, St Clements church in Chorlton approached Trafford & Hulme branch to request assistance in looking after and serving the beers at their, now annual, fund raising beer festival. Read a Bar Managers view of the festival

CHORLTON BEER FEST 2007: A BAR MANAGERS VIEW

Once again, St Clements church in Chorlton approached Trafford & Hulme branch to request assistance in looking after and serving the beers at their, now annual, fund raising beer festival.

The same volume of wet products as sold last year were ordered which was actually a huge increase in the volumes initially purchased as, last year, the organisers ended up buying out all of the local supermarkets of bottled beer as the customers just kept rolling in.

With crossed fingers, baited breath and much praying by the congregation, we anxiously watched the weather reports.  Oh dear, NOT good.  Never mind says I, hopefully we won’t run out of beer at tea time this year.

Well I stillaged, I vented and I tapped thinking that I would never get the job done, 50 casks takes a lot of looking after. Thanks must go to Dave Facer for his Hoppy beer. The entertainment value when the hard peg decided to explode out of the cask and create interesting patterns on the church ceiling with hops was priceless.  Woke my fiancé up no end.  He and his pliers were much better controlled after that one.

The rounds of changing soft and hard pegs had now begun. We look after our beer casks like Mothers look after their babies. You have an expectation of what should happen and then you have a huge list of what to do in case of all the ‘What If’s ‘. My Dad’s old garden sprayer was a God send.  Now my Dad was not a drinker but he knew that I liked a good pint so I hope that he approves of my new use for his old sprayer. I’m sure that I gave him a giggle as he said “that’s my girl”.

Amazing how many customers thought that I was actually spraying the casks with insecticide to stop the fruit flies, of course, we all know that I was just spraying cold water to keep the beer cool.

Volunteers started arriving shortly followed by the customers. The rain poured and poured but still they came. I heard a drenched young lady say it was just like Glastonbury. If we Mancunians waited for the rain to stop we would never go anywhere!

Last orders arrived, the church bells rang out around the district but we heard not a thing in the hall. Final dip and spray of the casks and close down for the night.

Saturday morning and it’s back really early to check on the pegs and taste all the beers again. It really is a hard job this Bar Manager’s lark. You have to taste the beer in every single cask before serving them. Quality control and breakfast all at the same time.

Well now opening time has arrived, the sun is shining and the fine folk of Chorlton and its environs eventually start coming back in to the festival.  I wished I had had the same lie in as they had.  By six o’clock the casks are dropping like flies.  We can’t keep up with closing them down and removing them from the beer hall. One by one the choice gets smaller and smaller and I just get hotter and hotter.

By 9.45pm it had all gone.  Now to clean up the beer hall.  Remember this is a church so we have to leave the room looking like a church again for Sunday morning service.  No shutting the doors on everything tonight.

The scaffolding is removed by those amongst us who still have some energy – not me.
Everything is cleared away and I’m down to the pub for a well earned pint that someone else has had to lovingly look after for me.  Luckily I went to Chorlton and not Chorlton Green as at 11pm I was confronted by a grumpy local who informed me that the Beech and The Trevor were completely sold out of cask ale !  Made my night that did.  All my efforts to give the people of Chorlton a decent pint of cask ale had caused them to leave the festival and drink the town dry – What a result.

Thanks must go to all of the CAMRA volunteers who worked, however short a time.  This event wouldn’t happen without you all.  I wish to thank the Greater Manchester U30’s group for almost single handed manning the festival on Saturday afternoon. In total we had 36 volunteers from 4 different branches. Thanks again to Hydes Brewery for supporting the branch and sponsoring two kils. And finally a big thanks to Fletch for lending me his gravity taps, I think I handled a mallet more than a mop this year. 

All in all we helped raised money for the church roof yet again and we had a successful weekend campaigning to the people of Chorlton.  Well done to all !

Beverley “Two Mallets” Rae