Milton Keynes and North Bucks Campaign for Real Ale

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Milton Keynes Beer and Cider Festival, Wed14th to Sat 17th October 2015
Milton Keynes and North Bucks Campaign for Real Ale

October øl opportunities

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As October starts, traditional German Oktoberfests come to an end. Here in the UK, we're only just getting started and first up is the MK11 live music venue at the Kiln Fram Pub. Their Octoberfest runs from Thu 1st to Sun 4th October and offers 40+ real ales and ciders, plus some of that 'craft' nonsense. Plenty of live music, big screen coverage of all the major sports events and a giant inflatable pub completes the picture. For full details, check out the Facebook event, their website or follow them on Twitter @mk11livemusic. You'll find them on Keller Close in Kiln Farm, MK11 3LH. Arriva bus 6 has a frequent service that'll get you within a short stagger. Did we mention FREE entry?

Woolpack, Buckingham.

Over in Buckingham, it's the Woolpack that's picking up the Octoberfest theme with German food and beers available on Fri 2nd and Sat 3rd. They'll also be showing the England vs. Australia rugby match on Saturday evening, but their big screen is in the Cote rather than the main pub. Great news if you don't like egg chasing. Don't forget the branch social will be in Buckingham on Sat 3rd and will include a stop at the Woolpack, currently planned around 3pm.

Our beer festival venue, The Buszy, is hosting MXMK (Made by Milton Keynes) on Sat 3rd October. It's a street food festival, which has nothing to do with eating off the pavement and everything to do with assembling the best of local outdoor food vendors and local produce. Mainly aimed at foodies, we mention it because they will also be selling beer from Concrete Cow brewery. Street food from 10am to 7pm, FREE entry, with all profits to MK Food Bank. There will also be a battle of the bands event on the same day, so plenty to occupy the crowds going to/from Stadium MK for the Japan vs. Samoa rugby game.

If you are looking for a pub beer festival with a twist, the Three Locks in Stoke Hammond is running a Cask Ale Tour of the UK over the entire month. Week one will see them feature beers from the north (e.g. Robinsons, Holts and Lees), week two will cover Scotland and Wales (e.g. Caledonian and Brains), week three sees beers from the west and the final week features London breweries. Keep an eye on their Facebook page for further information. The pub has a pleasant canal-side location, ideal for catching the last rays of autumn sunshine (or torrential drizzle) and can be accessed via Arriva bus 70 (the F70 serves the village).

Cider and perry promotional beer mat.

Cider and Perry month

October is one of two CAMRA Cider and Perry months. Although we are not aware of any specific events happening locally, CAMRA has a list of events taking place throughout the UK. We did hold an event in May, the other Cider and Perry month, when Laurence Conisbee took us on a tour of the orchards near Woughton-on-the-Green. The blossom we saw then has matured into apples, which are now being harvested and pressed, making it a busy time of the year for our two branch producers Virtual Orchard and Woughton Orchard. There are many pubs in our area that stock real cider and perry, including our joint Cider Pubs of the Year, the Bell & Bear, Emberton and the Lamb, Stoke Goldington. Beer and Cider festivals are also a great place try a variety of different ciders and perrys and we are blessed with plenty in and around MK. Talking of which...

Bedford Festival logo

North Bedfordshire CAMRA hold the 38th Bedford Beer and Cider Festival at the Corn Exchange from Wed 7th to Sat 10th October. Hurry over to the festival website to check out the excellent (as usual) beer and cider lists, view the full programme and grab a copy of the poster to decorate your home/office/local. The festival is open from 4-11pm on Wednesday and noon-11pm on the other days. You'll find around 140 different beers, including some from the brand new Ampthill Brewhouse and the Bucks Star, Concrete Cow and Hornes breweries from within our branch. Over 50 ciders and perrys will be available (including some from Virtual Orchard), plus a selection of draught and bottled beers from around the world and English wines.

Transport from MK and Buckingham is fairly straight forward, although you may need to leave earlier than you'd like to catch the last services back. Stagecoach's X5 bus offers a regular direct service from Buckingham, Central MK and Coachway through to Bedford. Note that some services wait for a while at Coachway, but they do usually have toilet facilities. Day Return tickets cost £12.80 to/from MK or Buckingham. The last two X5s back depart Bedford bus station at 18:49 and 19:49. Stagecoach also operate service 40 from MK via Newport Pagnell until the early evening, with the last bus leaving at 17:45. Those who like to let the train take the strain can use the regular service on the Marston Vale line connecting Bletchley to Bedford via Fenny Stratford, Bow Brickhill and Woburn Sands. The last return services towards Bletchley depart Bedford at 20:55 and 21:57. Network Southeast railcards are valid on the route on Saturdays, giving a third off the usual £7.00 Bletchley-Bedford Day Return ticket price. See the National Rail website for further timetable information, connections to MK & Wolverton and ticketing options.

Download the beer festival poster and help spread the word!

Hi-res PDF (14MB)
Lo-res JPG (400KB)

Suitable for printing on A4 or A5 paper.

2015 beer festival poster

The 22nd Concrete Pint: MK Beer & Cider Festival, 2015.

It's the big one folks, the branch festival at the Buszy, CMK. Running from Wed 14th to Sat 17th October, we'll have around 90 beers and 20 ciders / perrys for your enjoyment. We'll have beer and cider from all of the producers within our branch area, plenty of other local brews and we'll also be featuring beers from Yorkshire. We're just across the road from the central rail station and bus stops, so easy to reach from anywhere in MK and beyond. CAMRA members get FREE entry at all times. For further details, see the beer festival section of the site. You can also email the orgainiser via This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it for staffing and general enquiries.

If you fancy a break from the Concrete Pint, but still want to visit a beer festival, jump on the 33 bus to Hanslope and check out the festival at The Club. Their second festival of the year, it'll run from noon on Fri 16th to Sun 18th October. The MK Moove ticket will get you there and back for £5 until just after 7pm Fir/Sat. For more info, try Facebook.

The Regional Pub of the Year award will be presented to the Rising Sun, Berkhamsted, on Fri 23rd of October from 6pm. The 'Riser' is a truly outstanding pub and has beaten off some tough competition to make it through to the national finals. It's easy to access too, with up to three trains per hour from MK Central and Bletchley and two per hour from Wolverton, with return services running late into the night.

Have we missed something? Tell us about your real ale or cider/perry event via email to This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or Tweet us @mkcamra and we'll do our best to pass on the details.

Last Updated on Thursday, 08 October 2015 23:38

Swift Shenley social

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Talbot, Loughton.

We have an additional social on Mon 5th October, starting at the Shenley Church Inn Toby Carvery at 7:15pm, moving on to the Talbot at Loughton for about 8pm. The Toby Carvery offers two ales, usually Brakspear Bitter and St Austell Tribute. The Talbot was taken over by Ember Inns earlier in the year and now has 11 pumps available and offers a CAMRA members' discount on real ales. On Mondays they offer ales at £2.50 per pint. Hope to see you there.

The 24/25 Bletchley-Neport-Bletchley circular service stops outside the Talbot, but only runs until the early evening. From Newport, the last 24 departs at 18:12 and arrives at 18:48. From Bletchley, the last 25 departs 18:09 and arrives at 18:48. Arriva service 7 runs from Wolverton via Linford and CMK towards Bletchley, departing Wolverton 18:30 and the Point 18:57, it will get you to Shenley Local Centre at about 19:10. Or get the 19:30 / 19:57 if going straight to the Talbot. From Bletchley, the 7 departs at 18:29, arriving around 19:00. Services 2 and 8 run within walking distance too and are your options for the return journey. You'll need to take the shortish walk to the Loughton Roundabout on H5 Portway for the 2 at about 22:10 / 23:10 (continues to Newport). Or the slightly longer walk to the Knowlhill Roundabout on H6 Childs Way for the 8 at about 22:15/22:45 (continues to Walnut Tree). Bus timetables and maps are available from MK Council.

Last Updated on Monday, 05 October 2015 09:13

Buckingham bars by bus

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Kings Head.

The Mitre, the current MK & North Bucks Pub of the Year.

The Three Cups.

Our next social event is on Sat 3rd of October, when we will be visiting some (or maybe all) of the real ale pubs in Buckingham.

The schedule (all times are approximate) is:

Kings Head, 1 Market Hill (12:30-13:30)
Mitre, 2 Mitre Street (13:45-15:00)
Woolpack, 57 Well Street (15:15-15:45)
New Inn, 18 Bridge Street (15:45-16:15)
Three Cups, 2-4 Bridge Street (16:15-16:45)
White Hart, 1-2 Market Square (16:45-17:15)
Whale, 14 Market Hill (17:15-17:45)

Please feel free to join us at any point during the afternoon. We look forward to seeing you.

The recommended buses are the Arriva X60 leaving the Point at 11:50, Rail Station at 11:57 or the Stagecoach X5 at 11:43 from the Point, 11:55 from the Rail Station. If you don't want to spend so long in the Kings Head then the X60 runs hourly and the X5 half hourly. For anyone heading from the Aylesbury/Winslow direction there's an X60 at 12:15/12:37 arriving Buckingham at 12:55.

The X60 back to Milton Keynes leaves Buckingham at 55 mins past until 18:55. The Stagecoach X5 runs every half hour until 20:22, then hourly until 23:22. The X60 towards Winslow/Aylesbury is at 20 mins past, last one at 20:18.

Note that the Woolpack is holding it's Oktoberfest this weekend so people may want to stay longer or pop back if catching one of the later buses. Those travelling within Milton Keynes should also note there will be road closures and bus route diversions/delays due the Rugby World Cup match between Samoa and Japan at Stadium MK. Allow additional time to make your bus connections.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 29 September 2015 23:42

Good Beer Guide 2016 launch

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GBG 2016 cover

The 2016 edition of the CAMRA Good Beer Guide is published this week. To celebrate we're having a launch event at the White Horse, Stony Stratford on Thursday 10th September from 7 pm onwards. Everyone is welcome. This is your chance to be one of the first to get your hands on a copy and find out which pubs are in the new guide. Copies will be available for purchase at a reduced rate from the published price of £15.99 – CAMRA members £10, non-members £13. Buses 6, 89 and 90 will get you to Stony from CMK. The final return journey for the 6 departs Stony Stratford Wolverton Road at 23:16.

If you can't make this event, you can also buy your copy online via the CAMRA shop. The GBG will also be available in several digital formats for your phone, tablet and satnav. Further information is available on the CAMRA website.

Our branch contributes thirteen entries to the guide from over 200 pubs, clubs and hotel bars within the branch 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. Your help with this is much appreciated.

Beer score summary for 2016 GBG survey period

All scored pubs (120), 1867 scores, mean 3.2
Score 0 0.5 1 1.5 2 2.5 3 3.5 4 4.5 5
Percentage 0.16 0.16 0.91 2.14 7.39 12.53 29.14 25.92 16.82 4.39 0.43
GBG pubs only (13), 375 scores, mean 3.6
Score 0 0.5 1 1.5 2 2.5 3 3.5 4 4.5 5
Percentage 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.27 1.87 3.47 18.93 33.87 30.13 10.93 0.53

How our pubs scored

The charts on the right summarise the beer scores we used to select pubs for the 2016 GBG. The upper chart shows the score distributions for all the pubs we received scores for, while the lower one covers just the pubs selected for the guide. Hopefully you'll see that we selected pubs that were consistently serving good beer, with very few scores of less than 3. You should also see that, overall, our branch pubs do quite well, with the vast majority of scores being between 2 (average) and 5 (perfect), so there are plenty of great pubs out there that only just missed out. In fact, there were 72 pubs that managed to score an average beer score of 3 or above, which makes the job of selecting just 13 very difficult.

The beer scores also provide other information. For example, beers from around 190 different breweries were recorded over the survey period and 55 pubs were reported as stocking at least one LocAle brewery beer on one or more occasion.

Last Updated on Thursday, 10 September 2015 13:20
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