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.
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 http://www.drafthouse.co.uk/ 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.