I think it is wholly appropriate this month, to target my beery ramblings in the direction of the 10th Pendle Beer Festival.
It is a superbly organised three-day, real ale extravaganza, held at the Muni, Colne, from this Thursday to Saturday.
Oh, how times have changed since the first festival descended upon Colne’s main thoroughfare in Albert Road in 2005.
It was then an event mainly attended by mature, bearded, rotund, roly-poly males.
They were, in the main, wearing tweed jackets, Aran sweaters and carrying a Karrimor rucksack.
Now, you will witness a wider age range and a more modern attired individual at these temporary “Beer Meccas”.
There will be many women and younger folk also sampling the many ales and ciders on offer ... although the friendly pogonophiles (beard lovers) will still be very much in evidence.
The festival has undoubtably grown at a remarkable rate over an amazing 10-year period.
So much so, it’s now one of the largest and most anticipated beer festivals in the national festival calendar – certainly one of the biggest and best in the north of England.
Organiser Martyn Pashley and his band of dedicated East Lancs CAMRA volunteers do a superb job for the locality’s beer lovers and local economy alike.
This year, there will be over 100 ales at the Pendle event.
And the event’s theme will be local brews – as it was at the first festival.
“Local” is defined as a beer brewed within a 30-mile radius of the venue, and the organisers will hopefully have 100 local beers for its customers to select from.
Of course, the East Lancashire area will be well represented at Colne.
We have a fantastic choice of real ales in the locality, from the “big boys”, Moorhouse’s and Thwaites, who are two of the main sponsors, to the smaller microbreweries, such as Reedley Hallows and Worsthorne, from Burnley, The Barlick Brewery in Pendle, Three B’s, Snaggletooth and Hopstar from the Blackburn area and the Bowland Brewery in Clitheroe.
The location is ideal.
It is just a two-minute stroll from the railway station – a five-minute stagger on the return! – it is on a main-line bus route and the bus stop is right outside the main door.
Those doors open at 5pm on Thursday and “kicking out” time will be 11pm.
On Friday and Saturday it’s 11-30am kick-off with the doors again closing at 11pm. Entry is £3 on all days, but it is a fiver after 6pm on Friday.
CAMRA members are well catered for too – it’s free entry, but don’t forget your membership card as the jolly, affable volunteers on reception will be requesting your name, number and squiggle!
The Muni is a fine, historic building.
It’s a spacious venue, and has the added attraction of balcony seating and “quieter areas”. The last time I was up there, Ken Dodd was waving his tickling stick at me!
What is also good about this three-day jolly, is that there’s always excellent live entertainment on the Friday and Saturday evenings. Crikey, there’s even free soft drinks available – with locally produced sarsaparilla and dandelion and burdock on hand pump.
Yes, roll up, roll up to this beery bash at the Muni. A jolly, January jaunt it will be for me - and many others. Lots of quality quaffing, friendly social inter-action, slurring of words and fedora spotting.
It’s quite funny, when some have had the temerity to say that these type of events are on the wane. What unsubstantiated drivel – in my opinion.
The Pendle Beer Festival will no doubt have record attendances, and raise lots of money, for the local Pendleside Hospice – again.
Finally, I would like to sign off by thanking Martyn Pashley, “the gaffer”, the man at the helm, who has tirelessly grafted at this fine event for the last decade to make it one of the highlights in the Pendle social calander.
He steps down after this year’s event, and his successor will have a hard act to follow.
A happy retirement, MP. I’m sure everyone will echo those sentiments and wish you well.
Enjoy the festival – and long may it continue.