The 8th Chorlton Beer and Cider Festival came through fears that the worst weather in its eight year history would keep the people of Chorlton away to end up selling more beer, cider and perry than ever before.
A full day of torrential rain meant that as the festival opened, parts of the grounds of St Clements Church were under several inches of water. A week of beer disturbing storms leading up to the festival had already meant the cellar team from Trafford& Hulme CAMRA used all their skills to get the 82 cask ales ready for serving and then volunteers from the church braved the elements to preparing the grounds for opening time.
The festival started with the judging of the North West Round of the Champion Specialty Beer Of Britain Competition with judges including John Leech MP and the appropriately named Reverend Ken Flood joining local publicans, journalists and trained beer tasters on the 9 man blind tasting panel. The 8 finalists in the competition selected by online vote of 16,000 CAMRA members across the North West included a cask conditioned Pilsner, beers made with honey, a German style Alt bier, ginger beers, cloudy wheat beers and a fruit flavoured mild.
When the judges votes were counted, the beer selected as the North West region's entrant in the Champion Speciality Beer Of Britain Competition was Marble Brewery's Ginger. Runner up was another Manchesterbrewer, Dunham Massey and their Chocolate Cherry Mild with the bronze going to Lonesome Pine from Cumbria's Ulverston Brewery.
The rain finally stopped at 7pm and the crowds started to flock in to join the brave souls who had come out early. By the end of the night 1300 visitors had drank over 3000 pints of ale and hundreds of pints of cider and perry. Dunham Massey brewery added to their Silver award in the competition with the honour of also having the first beer to sell out with 18 gallons of their Summer Meadow lasting just three hours.
With the festival in recent years having gained a reputation for running out of beer before closing time, organisers had increased the beer order by over 20% to try and break the cycle. Opening on Saturday morning with 4500 pints of 73 different beers still on sale, they believed they were on target to keep the festival open to 10pm.
Yet again the people of Chorlton had other ideas, buying beer at an incredible 11 pints a minute throughout the afternoon so by 6pm almost 2500 pints had been sold. As the sun came out, Fridays puddles disappeared and the customers kept coming. With queues at the two bars up to 10 people deep at times, every available hand was drafted in to help serve - so much so that the Rector himself even spent an hour behind the bar.
By 8pm the by then inevitable sell out loomed as the last of the 2000 pints of cider and perry was sold and the final bottle of Belgian beer was opened. Full casks of beer were being drained in less than 30 minutes and by 8.45 it was all over and the handpump on the last beer standing, Stockport's Quantum Stout, ran dry. Despite 1200 pints more available, the festival had run dry an hour earlier than in 2011. The band played on, but with nothing more to drink the crowds slowly moved on to Chorlton's pubs and bars as the volunteers set about preparing the church for it's regular Sunday morning engagement.
Another successful festival had been completed with around 3000 people through the gate over the two days enjoying a wide range of traditional real ale, ciders and perries. With packing the church with as much beer as could physically be squeezed in still not enough to satisfy the thirst of Chorlton, it's back to the drawing board for 2013.
There is a third party review of the festival here: