Milton Keynes and North Bucks Campaign for Real Ale

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T H E
C O N C R E T E   P I N T
2 0 1 6
2 3 rd   M i l t o n   K e y n e s   B e e r   &   C i d e r   F e s t i v a l
19th to 22nd October, The Old Bus Station, Central Milton Keynes, MK9 1LR.
Milton Keynes and North Bucks Campaign for Real Ale

September's Suds Sessions

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Autumn is upon us and the new month starts with our regular branch meeting at the Barn, CMK, on Thu 1st of September. Starting at 20:15 sharp, the upcoming Concrete Pint Beer & Cider Festival and the branch's use of the interweb will be amongst the topics for discussion. As usual, all are welcome to attend and see what we're about.

The first branch social of the month takes place on Sat 3rd of September as we visit the village of Sherington and pubs in the centre of Newport Pagnell. Our first port of call will be the White Hart, Sherington, shortly after noon, then the Bull in Newport from around 13:30 before visiting several other pubs in the town.

We are hosting one of CAMRA's Revitalisation Project meetings on Thu 8th of September from 19:00 at the Slug & Lettuce, Central Milton Keynes. This is your chance to have a say on the future of CAMRA in person, to share your views on the key issues and the big questions that will impact the organisation for years to come. If you want to see CAMRA stick to its current aims and objectives or widen its scope, we want to hear from you. There should be some places available on the night, but to be sure of a place, register online now. We understand that Roger Protz, editor of the Good Beer Guide and all-round beer expert, will be attending, alongside regular What's Brewing and BEER magazine contributor Claire-Michelle Taverner-Pearson. If you can't make this meeting there are still a few others around the UK – you don't have to attend your local meeting. The second member survey is also available online now and will only take a few minutes to complete. Here's the consultation document to refresh your memory on some of the key issues.

Lunchtime drinkers might like to seek out the mini beer festival at MK Museum from Thu 8th to Sat 10th of September. Open from noon to 16:00 each day, the event is part of the national Hertitage Open Day programme across MK and the UK. We're told beer will be £2.50 a pint and there's a new exhibition about punk music in MK alongside the usual attractions.

Tamworth Beer Festival logo

"Drink beer and prosper!" say Lichfield, Sutton & Tamworth branch of CAMRA, as the 23rd Tamworth Beer Festival celebrates 50 years since the first screening of Star Trek, way back on 8th of September 1966. The festival, which runs from Thu 8th to Sat 10th of September, is a notorious "ticker" fest, showcasing new breweries and one-off festival special brews that you won't find anywhere else. A quick flick through the beer list reveals 'Old Spockled Hen', 'Vulcan Nerve Pinch' and 'Beam Me Up Hoppy' amongst 75 out-of-this-world beers that'll be on offer. Its FREE entry to CAMRA members at all times and less than an hour away from MK by train. For further information, see their website.

Branch members are invited to attend the Central Southern regional meeting on Sat 10th of September. Running from noon until 16:30, it'll take place at the Griffin in Caversham (RG4 7AD). Further details should be available from the regional website.


Lamb, Stoke Goaldington.

The Lamb in Stoke Goldington is hosting a music and beer festival on Sat 10th of September from 14:00 onwards. The Lamb is a regular in the Good Beer Guide and a past branch Pub of the Year, so you know the beer and cider will be good. Headlining the music side of the event will be Perfect Purple, a top-rated Deep Purple tribute band. Entry to 'WoodStoke' is FREE and we're assured there is ample cover should the weather take a turn for the worst. Hot and cold food will also be available. Bus route 37 runs between Newport Pagnell, Stoke Goldington and Olney roughly hourly until late afternoon and is covered by the MK Moove day ticket.

Foodies rejoice! BOFF, the Big Olney Food Festival, is back on Sat 10th and Sun 11th of September and tucked away amongst all the food stalls you'll find plenty of real ale and cider! Find 'em on Facebook.

Bierclub, the monthly beer tasting event at Wolverton's Biergarten will take place on Wed 14th of September. It'll feature beers from those mad Scandinavian brewers, who love their sours, imperial stouts and extreme IPAs, as well as more normal beers. There are a few tickets available at £15 each + fees.

CAMRA will launch the 2017 edition of the Good Beer Guide on Thu 15th of September. We'll be inviting the landlords of the 13 pubs included from our branch area to a special social and you are all invited to come and meet them too. Details of this social will be announced closer to the date, so stay tuned.

Looking for another excuse to take a train ride to the Midlands? Look no further than the 9th CAMRA Hinckley Beer Festival taking place in the Adkins Building, Hinckley (LE10 1QU), a 15 minute strole from the rail station, from Thu 15th to Sat 17th of September. They're offering around 70 beers from the West Country, Kent, Manchester, the Home Counties, West Midlands and Yorkshire, in addition to LocAles from closer to Hinckley. The festival is open from noon until 23:00 each day and entry is FREE to CAMRA members at all times. see their website for further information, including the beer list. Trains run regularly from MK with a change at Nuneaton.

There's another opportunity to release your inner foodie as the first MK Food Festival comes to Great Linford on Sat 17th of September. Alongside a bewildering array of things to eat you'll find our MK beer and cider producers well represented. The event open at 11:00 and runs until 17:00. Find further details on the web, Facebook and Twitter. Buses 7, 21, 23, 24, 25 and 37 will all get you pretty close to the site at Linford Manor Park and the Nags Head is close by if you need to relax for a while in a pub. You'll also find the Black Horse a short walk west along the canal, while the Giffard Park Inn is a little further to the east.

Cask Ale Week 2016

Cask Ale Week is a national celebration of cask-conditioned beers running from Thu 22nd of September to Sun 2nd of October. That's right, organisers Cask Marque have decided they need an 11 day 'week' to fit in all the events that have been arranged this year. We are not aware of anything happening within our branch area, but several pubs are participating in a free pint promotion paid for by Punch. You'll need a smartphone or tablet to get your voucher this year, which is bad news from those of you desperately clinging on to your Nokia 3410s! You can get a map of all Cask Ale Week events across the UK online. Don't forget there are several pubs in our branch area that offer discounts on real ale to CAMRA members on production of your valid membership card. We have a list of participating pubs on WhatPub.

Cider fans should head over to the Woolpack, Buckingham, on Fri 23rd and Sat 24th of September for their Cornish Weekender. They have over 20 ciders available, plus craft larger from Sharp's and guest real ales from Cornish breweries. Pasties too! For more info see the pub's Facebook page.

We have had no interest at all for the rail trip on Sunday 25th of September, so we will not be running it.

Late September brings the German tradition of Oktoberfest, so we're delighted that MK11 has got the dates for its 4th Octoberfest about right. From Fri 30th of September to Sun 2nd of October the venue will be offering live music and big screen sports action accompanied by German beers, bratwursts, pretzels and a selection of real ales and ciders. Best of all, the event is FREE at all times to everyone. You can find further information on the Facebook event page.

If you know of something beer/cider related happening in September, or later in the year, This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it !

CBoB 2017: Vote for your favourite beers now!

CBoB 2016 winner

Binghams' Vanilla Stout, brewed in Berkshire, was named Supreme Champion Beer of Britain at this year's Great British Beer Festival last August. CAMRA members now have the chance to nominate up to five of their favourite local beers in each category to go forward to the 2017 competition. Members from the MK & North Bucks branch submit nominations for beers from the London and South East area, which includes Concrete Cow and Hornes, but not some of the breweries close by to the north and east of the branch area. Nominations can be made online (you'll need your membership number and password), or This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it if you'd like us to nominate beers on your behalf. Nominations are open from September 1st to November 1st, so get to it and support your local microbreweries!

Last Updated on Saturday, 24 September 2016 22:27
 

Good Beer Guide 2017 launch

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GBG 2017 cover

The 2017 edition of the CAMRA Good Beer Guide (GBG) is published on Thu 15th of September and we're holding a launch event at the Chester Arms, Chicheley, from 19:30 onwards to celebrate. We have invited the landlords of all the branch pubs included, so grab this opportunity to meet some of the people behind the very best pubs in the area. We will have copies available for purchase on the night at £10 for CAMRA members or £13 for non-members, a good reduction on the published price of £15.99.

We can organise shared taxis from/to CMK (approx £3 per person each way if full) should there be sufficient demand. There's a Stagecoach route 40 bus from MK Central Station at 19:00, the Point 19:05, Coachway 19:20, Newport Pagnell Tickford Street 19:27 and Sherington at 19:32 to get you to the pub, but you'll still need to get a taxi back to Newport/CMK. Contact This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it if you plan to attend, as it'll help us and the Chester Arms to make arrangements for the night.

This is the 44th edition of the GBG, fully revised based on independent information sourced from CAMRA members. Pubs cannot buy a place in the GBG! The guide features a comprehensive listing of UK breweries alongside entries for 4,500 of the very best real ale and cider pubs in the country. Our branch contributes thirteen entries to the guide from over 200 pubs, clubs and hotel bars within the Milton Keynes and North Buckinghamshire area. Our choices are based on beer quality alone, which we assess using beer quality scores submitted by CMARA members. All CAMRA members can get involved in this process by providing scores for cask conditioned real ales drunk in our pubs. Simply visit the WhatPub website, log-in with your membership number and password and find the pub you want to score. There are two short videos on YouTube that explain the process: Why you should score beers and Submitting beer scores. As always, your help with this is appreciated.

Last Updated on Thursday, 15 September 2016 01:20
 

Animal Collective: Harts, Bulls and Dolphins

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White Hart, Sherington.


King's Arms, Newport Pagnell.


Cannon, Newport Pagnell.

The first branch social of the month features several pubs named after animals as we tour Sherington and Newport Pangnell on Sat 3rd of September. Grab yourselves a MK Moove bus day ticket for a fiver and come and join us for a few jars and a bit of jawing.

We kick off at the White Hart in Sherington just after noon. Situated in a quiet and picturesque village to the north-east of Newport, the pub offers up to four real ales, including a house beer and local brews. From CMK, jump on the Redline route 21 bus from MK Rail Station (Y6) at 11:35, the Point (M3) at 11:41 and the Food Centre (C3) at 11:44. It runs via Great Linford and Newport arriving at the Green in Sherington for 12:04. A five minute walk down Church Lane, then left into Gun Lane will bring you to the pub. Alternatively, Stagecoach route 40 departs MK Rail Station (Y6) at 12:00, the Point (H3) at 12:05 and the Food Centre (B3) at 12:06, running via Coachway and Newport, arriving at Church Lane, Sherington at 12:32. If you're coming from Lavendon, Olney or Emberton, you can grab the 21 service at 11:33, 11:47 and 11:52 respectively to arrive around noon.

We'll leave Sherington on the 13:24 Stagecoach route 40 to arrive just outside the Bull on Tickford Street, Newport Pagnell at 13:30. There are other services using the same stops (e.g. 24, 25) or stops a few minutes away in the town centre (e.g. 1, 2, 37) so this is a good place to join us if you can't make the first pub. There are usually 3 or 4 beers on offer in this freehouse and there will be some additional ciders available, left over from last weekend's cider & sausage festival. (Unlike beer, cider keeps quite well if kept cool.)

Our next stop is just across the road at the King's Arms around 14:15. This large Charles Wells pub will usually offer a couple of the brewery's ales and maybe a guest too. We'll move on around 15:00 to the Rose & Crown, a small two-roon back street pub offering 2 or 3 Charls Wells beers. Next up is the Coachmakers Arms around 15:45 which will have 2 or 3 beers on offer from regional breweries. If you've not been in for a while, the refurbishment earlier in the year has tidied the place up without losing its character. Keeping up the pace, it's onwards to the Dolphin at 16:20 which will likely have a couple of beers from the Charles Wells range. Finally, we reach the fine freehouse that is the Cannon around 17:00, where up to 4 beers will be available, usually from regional breweries but sometimes more local.

If you are keen, you can get another animal in by extending the crawl to the Frog & Nightgown where up to three beers from regionals can be found, plus the ever reliable Charles Wells pub, the Plough is just across the street from the Cannon. Just think of it as training for the Concrete Pint Beer & Cider Festival in October! Return buses to most parts of MK run until 22:00 or beyond, but the last service back towards Emberton, Olney and Lavendon departs from the High Street at 19:59. Full transport information is available from MK Council.

Obviously, all times will be (increasingly) approximate, but we're usually fairly good at sticking to the plan. We should have our little MK CAMRA chalk board with us too, so look out for that if you want to find/avoid us. Our recent socials have had a good turn out, so see you there?

Last Updated on Friday, 02 September 2016 18:15
 

August's Altbier Appointments

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An immediate start to the month with a branch meeting at the Barn, CMK on Mon 1st of August. As usual there will be a prompt start at 20:15 and we're usually finished within two hours. All welcome, although any voting will be restricted to branch members. Come along and have your say in your local branch.

Please note: All branch socials planned and advertised for August 2016 have been cancelled with the exception of the (rearranged) Wolverton social. We apologise for any inconvenience this may cause.

Our first social of the month, planned for Sat 6th of August, has been cancelled due to insufficient numbers booking.

The Great British Beer Festival runs from Tue 9th to Sat 13th of August at Olympia in London. For full details of CAMRA's showcase of British and world beer, cider and perry, visit the GBBF website. Our planned branch social on Fri 12th has been cancelled due to the withdrawal of the Southern Trains direct service linking Milton Keynes and Olympia. It is still possible to get to the venue by train using alternative routes if you'd like to make your own arrangements.


Craufurd Arms, Wolverton.

The original Wolverton social planned for the middle of the month has been cancelled due to the launch date of a new beer being moved to the start of the month. If you'd like to know more about the new beer, check our local breweries on social media. However, we have managed to rearrange a short pub crawl around Wolverton's pubs on Wed 18th of August. We'll be meeting in the Biergarten between 19:00 and 20:00 before touring the town's other pubs, the North Western, the Craufurd Arms and the New Queen Victoria. (By the way, if you're looking for Wolverton on WhatPub, it appears to be listed as Wolverton Bedfordshire.)

It's Bank Holiday weekend at the end of the month, so a handful of pub festivals are competing for your attention. First out of the blocks is the Black Lion, one of the best pubs in the neighbouring South Beds branch area. Their 'down on the farm' themed beer festival runs from Thu 25th through to Mon 29th of August. If you've been to any of their themed events in the past, you'll know they don't mess around and always make it worth the trip to Leighton Buzzard. Expect around 70 beers from 50+ breweries – we'll be very disappointed if they don't have some cows and goats on the bar. See Facebook for more info.


Cross Keys, Woolstone.

If you want something closer to CMK, the Cross Keys in Woolstone has its second festival of the year from Fri 26th to Mon 29th of August. There will be plenty of beer and cider, live music and great food. No tickets, no tokens and no fuss, they say on Facebook. Bus 18 on Fri/Sat day times, or the 8 stops ten minutes walk away. Don't forget the Barge Inn is just down the road if you need to escape the excitement.

Out in Newton Longville, the Crooked Billet will be running its Summer Festival from 7pm on Fri 26th until 7pm on Mon 29th of August. You'll have to work hard to dig through the food information on their website, but there are quick mentions for 'local' cider (five from Harefields, Northamptonshire) and beer too.

Out in the northern extremes of our branch area, the Watts Arms in Hanslope is holding its annual beer and music festival on Sat 27th and Sun 28th of August. Running from noon to 22:00 each day, there will be live music and BBQ food to go with the beers and ciders, plus entertainment for the kids too. The 33 provides a good service to the village from CMK (and Northampton) until the early evening on Saturday, but there's no service on the Sunday. If you do visit Hanslope, remember our current Club of the Year, the Club, is just a hundred yards down the road and the Cock across the street is always worth a look for an unusual beer or two.

You may be surprised that we're going to mention Frosts Garden Centre, Woburn Sands, but you might want to check out their Chilli Festival from Sat 27th to Mon 29th of August. It's five quid to get in, but you get all the garden centre stuff, more chilli related produce and activities than you can handle, plus a bar stocking local beers and ciders. Bucks Star and Hornes have their beer available and Concrete Cow have produced a special cask of chilli infused beer. Cider comes from Woughton Orchard and Virtual Orchard, the latter supplying a chilli and chocolate infused cider from their Coachbuilder range. We doubt you'll find a better selection of local drinks anywhere else. Check them out on Twitter too. Arriva's 300 bus route stops outside too, with a regular service even on the Sunday and Monday. Hot stuff!

Expect some serious fighting in Newport Pagnell on Sun 28th and Mon 29th of August, as it's Civil War Weekend. Around 500 soldiers will be in town to reenact battles between Roundheads and Cavaliers. All that fighting is thirsty work, so the Dolphin will be running a beer tent at the event on Bury Field Common (next to Queen's Avenue, MK16 8EU). There will also be a mini beer festival in the pub over the weekend, featuring beers from Charles Wells and local breweries, plus some ciders too. They asked us to suggest a beer that'd reflect the style available in the 17th century and it turns out it wasn't that different back then from what we drink these days. Beer of the day was reasonably well hopped and fairly low in alcohol, like today's traditional bitters, while Ale was stronger, sweeter and less well hopped, like a strong mild. The civil war saw the introduction of taxation on beer in 1643, so thanks for that.

Meet the brewer from Twisted Barrel (Coventry) at the Biergarten, Wolverton, on Sun 28th of August. It's a 'tap takover', so we assume their tap will have a Twisted Barrel beer on it. Maybe the handpump too. Oh, and some bottles will be available as well.

If you are over in Buckingham on Sun 28th of August, our branch Pub of the Year, the Wheatsheaf at Maids Moreton, is holding it's summer barbecue. In addition to the pub's range of fine well kept beers, Burnished Brass will be playing live in the garden.

The Ship Ashore, Willen, will have a mini beer festival on Bank Holiday Mon 29th of August. In addition to their usual range of six beers on the bar, there will be eight more outside in a marquee. £2.49 a pint too. See facebook for more info.

If you are out and about over the Bank Holiday Weekend, Arriva are running a two-for-one promotion on their day tickets for users of their mobile app. Think of it as a free half pint for both of you.

The latest edition of our FREE branch magazine, Beer Moos, should be available from all good (and some dodgy) local pubs. You can also download a PDF version of issue 38 if your local is daft enough not to stock it. If you have any news or articles for inclusion in the next issue, get them to the This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it by the start of September.

Last Updated on Saturday, 27 August 2016 10:49
 
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