Milton Keynes and North Bucks Campaign for Real Ale

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Milton Keynes and North Bucks Campaign for Real Ale

Branch AGM: Thursday 26th January 2017

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Thanks to all those who attended the AGM. The key committee members have been elected into their positions, which ensures the branch will continue. There are several vacancies should anyone wish to come forward and volunteer their services. The branch contacts page will be updated in due course.

Milton Keynes and North Buckinghamshire branch of CAMRA will hold its Annual General Meeting on Thu 26th of January, 2017. The meeting will be held at the Barn, CMK, starting at 20:00 sharp, so be sure to arrive early enough to get a pint in before things get underway. There will be short reports from the current committee before the election of a new committee for the coming year. Remember that all committee positions are up for election on the night and few (if any) of the current committee members have indicated they will be running for re-election. So this is your opportunity to get involved and we'll need several people to step forward if the branch is to continue. check the CAMRA national website for further information of the committee positions that are available. You'll need to be a CAMRA member to attend and a branch member to vote, so ensure you have your current, valid membership card with you.

Last Updated on Thursday, 26 January 2017 23:12

Tryanuary Tipple Tips

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We kick off the New Year with a branch meeting at the Barn, CMK, on Mon 9th of January. Starting at 20:15 sharp, this is one of the more important branch meetings of the year, so branch members are strongly encouraged to attend. This is particularly true if you are considering standing for a position on the committee at the AGM later in the month, as it'll give you an opportunity to see how things work.

XT Brewing of Long Crendon have a Meet the Brewer evening and Tap Takeover at the Draft House in CMK on Thu 12th of January. There will be a mixture of XT's core beers and some from their Animal brand. Expect five cask ales to be available plus three keg beers, the later being previews of new beers set to be launched at this year's Craft Beer Rising hipster event. Things should kick-off around 17:00, unless the snowflake that's been forecast brings the country to a grinding halt before then. A good night in prospect, especially if you're doing #tryanuary!

Watts Arms, Hanslope.

We'll be heading to the village of Hanslope on Sat 14th of January for a branch social. We'll be using the 33/33A bus, so grab your MK Moove ticket for £5.20 and come and join us. Early birds can pick up the bus at 12:00 from the the Point (K4), 12:06 at MK Central rail station or 12:21 at Wolverton. Services run hourly after that and a further 10 minutes later from 15:10. We'll probably visit the Watts Arms first, then the Cock Inn and finally the Club. All are a couple of minute apart on foot, so you should be able to find us. Note that none of the venues will be offering cooked meals during the afternoon and the Club has a function booked between 17:00 and 19:00. The last bus services back from Hanslope to CMK depart at 16:10, 17:25 and 18:25. There is also a bus back as far as Wolverton at 19:21. We may extend the crawl to Haversham, Wolverton and CMK depending on demand.

Our Buckingham Area Rep, Dave Hayes, is arranging an informal meeting for local CAMRA members at the Woolpack on Tue 17th of January. Drop by to chew the fat over a couple of beers or ciders and Dave will feedback news and suggestions to the branch.

The first Bierclub of 2017 will feature India Pale Ales on Wed 18th of January at the Beirgarten, Wolverton. Advance tickets cost £15 + fees and are available online.

Who would have guessed that Burns Night would be a thing this far south of the border? JD Wetherspoon are turning it into Burns Week from Fri 20 to Fri 27 of January, so plenty of opportunities to stuff your face with haggis while drinking the beers on offer at the Moon Under Water and Wetherspoons. Just about all the other foodie pubs in our area seem to have a Burns event during the week too, with many saving it for Burns night itself on Wed 25th of January. The Prince George, Tattenhoe, the Woolpack, Buckingham, and the The Crooked Billet, Newton Longvill all go with the 25th, while the Cowpers Oak, Weston Underwood, leave it for the 28th.

It's our Branch AGM on Thu 26th of January at the Barn, CMK. We need new people to fill some important committee positions, so do come along and volunteer if you can. We start at 20:00 sharp, so get their early to grab a pre-meeting pint.

Sat 28th of January is the date for the CAMRA Central Southern region's annual London pub crawl. This year we'll be going from King's Cross to Cleckenwell – full details to follow, but there's a summary in the branch diary entry that lists the planned pubs if you want more info right now. All welcome.

Tryanuary is an initiative to get people to try new beers / breweries in January and a timely reminder that a pub isn't just for Christmas! It's also an antidote to the dreaded Dry January fad of the last few years, which does very little for people's health and further damages the licensed trade at what is already a difficult time of year. While the initiative is most visible on social media via the #tryanuary hash tag, you can still get out there and try new beers, breweries and pubs without being permanently online or spending all of your pub time fiddling with your mobile device. As we hear of interesting beers and pick up beer scores, we'll update you every few days here, so here goes...

Nut & Squirrel, Westcroft.

There's a new beer from US brewer Sixpoint on at Wetherspoons CMK at the moment, although it was brewed here in the UK on the kit at Adnams Brewery. Clocking in at 5% ABV it's a JDW exclusive called Make it Rain. Out in Walnut Tree, the Tawny Owl currently has Weston's Old Rosie cider on handpull alongside its range of beers, all currently from the Greene King portfolio. The George Inn, Winsolw, has Cobnut Ruby Ale from Kent Brewery lurking amongst its usual array of Vale and Aylesbury beers. Over in Stony Stratford, the White Horse has a couple of beers from XT, 2 and 13. A Little Bird has been sighted at the Nut & Squirrel Westcroft, brewed by Rooster's of North Yorkshire. There were some great beers available on our recent crawl of Hanslope, which certainly worth an afternoon trip on the 33 bus. If all else fails, you'll probably find something new at the Biergarten in Wolverton, as they have recently taken delivery of 100 cases of beer from all over the place. The Cowper's Oak, Weston Underwood, is back open again too and is currently stocking Timothy Taylor Landlord and Tring Ridgeway amongst its four cask ales. Other pubs we mentioned earlier in the month include: Red Lion Fenny Stratford, White Hart Sherrington and Moon Under Water CMK. Found something interesting at your local? Tell us via Twitter, Facebook or This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

Beer score data.

A year in numbers: Looking back over 2016, the branch recorded over 2,000 beer quality scores via WhatPub from 100 CAMRA members representing 44 CAMRA branches. Scores were submitted for 138 pubs across the branch, with over 200 different breweries (and many more different beers) recorded. Not bad for a branch dominated by Greene King, Charles Wells and the ubiquitous Sharp's Doom Bar! The average beer score for the year was 3.19 (i.e. good quality) and the price information in 172 records suggested the average price for a pint of real ale was £3.06. Beer quality scores are important for the branch as we use them to decide which pubs are worthy of inclusion in the Good Beer Guide, so do keep sending them in. And remember, you are judging the quality of the beer and how it is kept / served, not how much you like a particular brew!

Last Updated on Saturday, 21 January 2017 18:27

December's Draught Dilemmas

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Another month, another branch meeting. Our final business trip to the Barn for 2016 and a return to the usual meeting format following last month's beer festival wash-up. As usual, we'll get going at 20:15 and everyone is welcome. Thu 1st of December is the date you'll need.

Wolverton Sports Club on Osbourne Street (MK12 5HH) is holding its 13th Tasting Weekend from Fri 2nd to Sun 4th of December. Real ale and cider will be on offer at £3 per pint while there's free live music on Friday and Saturday nights from Mungo Jungo and The Five Men Not Called Matt. There will be hot/cold food available at all sessions and entry is FREE for everyone. Doors are open 19:30-23:00 Fri, 12:00-23:00 Sat and 12:00-22:30 Sun.

MK11, Kiln Farm, will also be holding a festival from Fri 2nd to Sun 4th of December. They describe it as a 'craft beer' festival (33 on tap and 28 in bottles) but there's no indication any of it will be real ale. As usual, street food will be on offer to keep you fed and there's a very impressive line-up of live music. There's an optional £2 entry fee which will be split between a local charity for homeless people and covering the cost of the artists performing. See Facebook for further details.

Cotton End Brewery at the Pomfret Arms.

Princess Alexandra.

Our traditional pre-festive pub crawl in Northampton will take place on Sat 3rd of December. We'll kick off at the Albion Brewery Bar on Kingswell Street from around 12:30, with plenty of time to grab a bite to eat before moving on. Our second stop will be the Pomfret Arms at 13:30, home to the Cotton End Brewery. Onwards to an old favourite, the Malt Shovel at 14:15 before a brief stop at John Franklin's at 15:00. This bar has only just opened to replace the short-lived Bar Hygge, so we've no idea what it'll be like. Our timing could be all over the place by this point, so we're aiming for around 30 minutes per pub from here on, unless we find something spectacular. So, we'll take a look at the Mail Coach before dropping in on the town's first Micropub, the St Giles Ale House, which has only been open for a week. The Cordwainer (Wetherspoons) is next on our list and a potential low price food stop if the beer needs soaking up. It's the Princess Alexandra to follow, then a stop at the Black Prince (formerly the Racehorse) which claims to offer 19 beers and 6 ciders! It should be between 18:00 and 19:00 by now and a good point to break if you need to head back to MK early, as we'll be looping further out of the town centre if you fancy a few pints more... The Lighthouse is a newish pub that opened the summer and features a mixture of real ale and 'craft beer'. A few doors away is Beer Guerrilla, an interesting new beer shop with a small space for sampling, so maybe worth a quick look. Off into the deepest darkest back streets to seek on the Artizan before heading to the Olde England. Finally it's back towards the rail station with stops at the Lamplighter and the Garibaldi if we can stand the pace!

You can let the train take the strain from Bletchley 11:43, Milton Keynes Central 11:48, or Wolverton 11:53 to arrive in Northampton at 12:06. Return services run regularly until the early hours. Further details are available from National Rail. By bus you can take the X7 from the Food Centre (B4) 11:25, the Point (H4) 11:26 and the Rail Station (Z4) 11:33 to arrive in Northampton Bus Station at 12:21. Or try the X4 at 10:49, 10:51 and 10:57 from the same stops to get you there a bit earlier. If you fancy a more leisurely bus ride, there's a 33A at 10:57 (B4), 11:00 (K4) and 11:06 (Z5) which also picks up in Bradwell, Wolverton and Hanslope and arrives in Northampton at 12:20 (alight at The Plough to save a walk down Bridge Street). The last return bus services depart at 17:40 (33A) or 18:40 (33 as far as Wolverton), 17:55 (X4) or 18:39 (X7). Visit MK Council for more bus info.

Wetherspoons, CMK, are hosting a tap takeover / meet the brewer evening on Wed 7th of December from 19:00 onwards. Brewer Ryan will be there and there should be plenty of Hornes brews on the handpulls, plus there will be gift sets and bottled beers for sale too. Free entry if you bring a goat*. (* Actual goat not required to gain free entry.)

Concrete Cow and Hornes breweries have got together with the Draft House to brew a house beer for the new CMK pub. Their first effort, MK Pale No.1 Citra will be launched on Wed 8th of December from 19:30 onward. If you'd like to get a free pint of the new beer on launch night, register online at in advance. Concrete Cow have also produced a collab brew with the various local Wetherspoon pubs in our area - keep your eyes peeled for further information on availability. In other beer news, Bucks Star are about to release a new beer in the form of Midletone Pils, a 5% ABV lager, while the latest effort from Hornes is a smooth smoked porter at 4.8% ABV called Black Antler.

Sun 11th of December will see MK Christmas Feast arrive at Bradwell Abbey between 11:00 and 16:00. It's a seasonal showcase of all things 'artisan', which will include beer, cider and spirits from our local producers, plus food, gifts and music. There's a £3 entry fee for this one, but kids go free (and won't sponge a pint off you). More info from MK Food Revolution. The first MK Feast back in February was very popular (3,000+ attended), so don't miss out.

It's Bierclub time on Wed 14th of December and no surprises it'll feature Christmas beers and winter ales. There are only a few tickets remaining for this event at the Biergarten, Wolverton, so grab 'em online quick! There are also tickets available for the January event, which will feature IPAs.

Our final official branch event of 2016 is the traditional Christmas Eve gathering at Wetherspoons on Midsummer Boulevard. There should be a table reserved from noon with people expected to arrive from 14:00 onward. Remember that public transport will shut down early, so if you're staying after 20:00 get your taxi booked in advance. You might like to try our beer festival sponsors, Skyline on 01908 222 111. If we don't see you there, have an enjoyable festive season!

Thanks to all our members (and non-members) who have supported us this year and to all the publicans, brewers and associated staff who have made it possible. Stay tuned for some important updates in January, including the branch AGM.

Looking ahead: Branch meeting, Mon 9th Jan; Branch social (provisional), Sat 14th Jan; Branch AGM, Thu 26th Jan; Regional pub crawl of London, King's Cross to Clerkenwell, Sat 28th Jan.

Last Updated on Thursday, 29 December 2016 14:18

November's Ninkasi Notes

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We start the month with a branch meeting with a difference, as it'll concentrate on a review of the Concrete Pint Beer & Cider Festival. This is a replacement for the usual separate wash-up meeting, so if you'd like to provide feedback, it's a 20:15 start at the Barn, CMK, on Wed 2nd of November.

Station Tavern, Woburn Sands.

The first branch social of the month sees us head out to Wavendon and Woburn Sands on Sat 12th of November. We'll start at the Wavendon Arms at 14:00 which usually has one real ale available plus a small selection of bottled Belgian beer. From there we'll move on to the Station Tavern in Woburn Sands at 14:45, where you are likely to find Phipps NBC IPA and Sharp's Doom Bar on offer. Next up will be the Weathercock just up the road where you'll robably find a couple of Greene King Beers. Finally we'll go to the Centre of Woburn Sands for the Swan and the Fir Tree, where the beer choice is a little more variable. We may also sneak up the hill to the Royal Oak. You'll find Arriva bus 300 connects CMK, Coachway, Broughton and Kingston to Wavendon and Woburn Sands, running every 30 minutes for most of the day. There's also the rail service from Bletchley, Fenny Stratford and Bow Brickhill to Woburn Sands. See MK Council for bus info and National Rail for train details.

Head to Wetherspoons, Midsummer Boulevard, CMK, for our New Members' Social from 20:00 on Thu 24th of November. Hopefully all of you who joined CAMRA at our beer festival will have received your membership packs and may have some JDW tokens to use (we usually have some spares too), so this is the perfect opportunity to meet other branch members. We'll also be holding the beer festival staff party at the same time and place, so you should see a few (vaguely) familiar faces.

Looking ahead: Branch meeting, Thu 1st Dec; Beer Festival, Wolverton Sports Club, Fri 2nd to Sun 4th Dec; Branch social, pre-Christmas Northampton pub crawl, Sat 3rd Dec.

Ninkasi? An ancient goddess of beer no less, from Sumer in what is now southern Iraq between the rivers Tigris and Euphrates. Read more about her and the Hymn to Ninkasi over at Beer Advocate. Ninkasi is also a craft brewery in Oregon, US of A. Uber hipsters specialising in mad beers, art, music and metalwork – check 'em out.

Last Updated on Saturday, 12 November 2016 14:41
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