Milton Keynes and North Bucks Campaign for Real Ale

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Milton Keynes and North Bucks Campaign for Real Ale

Book Albion Brewery tour for December

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The branch's traditional pre-Christmas pub crawl in Northampton will take place on Sat 12th of December and this year there's an optional brewery tour to start the day. The famous name of Phipps NBC vanished from Northampton in 1974 when their original brewery was closed and demolished. The beer brand was revived in 2008 and a Phipps brewery returned to the town in 2014 after a 40 year absence. Our day out will start with a visit to the Albion Brewery, which also produces Hoggley's beers alongside those of Phipps, at 11:00 and will be followed by the pub crawl.

The brewery visit starts with beer tasting, followed by a history of Phipps NBC and the Albion Brewery. There will be a tour of the brewery, finishing in the bar with a pint of your choice. The cost of the brewery tour is £12 per person and there is an option for a meat pie and mash lunch for £5, after the tour. (Vegetarian, vegan and gluten free alternatives can be arranged if ordered in advance.)

To secure your place on the brewery tour, please give your £17/£12 (with/without lunch) to Jenny, Ian or Steve at our forthcoming New Members' Social at Whetherspoon's, CMK, on 17th November or at our branch meeting at the Galleon, Old Wolverton, on 30th November. If you can't attend either event, please This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it to make alternative arrangements.

If you just want to do the pub crawl, there is no need to book. We anticipate leaving the Albion about 13:30 (the bar opens at noon) and a full crawl schedule will be published nearer the date. As well as the Albion Brewery Bar, Northampton has a wealth of excellent pubs, all within walking distance. You can get to Northampton from MK by bus or train, but if you stay for the whole of the crawl, you will need to return to MK by train as the last bus leaves at 18:50.

Last Updated on Sunday, 08 November 2015 15:26

November nihamanchi notifications

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November's events kick off with a branch social in Newport Pagnell on Wed 4th, touring some of the many fine beer and cider purveyors in the town centre. A full itinerary and public transport information will be published closer to the date.

The 21st Watford CAMRA Beer Festival runs from Thu 5th to Sat 7th of November at the West Herts Sports Club (WD18 7HP). Doors open at 4pm on the Thursday and 11am on Friday and Saturday, closing at 11pm each day. There will be over 80 beers, ciders and perries from breweries in Hertfordshire, London and all over the country, including beers from their local breweries, Paradigm and Pope's Yard. It's FREE entry to CAMRA members or £2.50 otherwise. For more information, check the festival's web page, or follow them on Facebook or Twitter. The venue is about 20 minutes on foot from Watford Junction rail station (map with directions) which has a good rail service to/from Milton Keynes.

Between Mon 9th and Sun 15th of November, there's an interesting beer festival up the rail line from MK at the Merchants Inn, Rugby (CV21 3AW). They are setting up a battle between old (pre-1987) and new (1987 onwards) real ale breweries that'll feature around 80 beers, plus a range of entertainment across the week. Further information and a beer list are available on the pub's website. With both Virgin and London Midland operating services to/from Rugby, there is a bewildering array of tickets to choose from, including cheap pre-booked and off-peak options. Get times and prices from the National Rail website and allow for a 20 minute walk up the hill then right towards the town centre.

Tom Smith Ales, currently brewing in Corby, just outside of our branch's LocAle area, will be holding their 2nd Nomadic Beer Festival at the Radhuni, Queen Street, Kettering from Fri 13th to Sun 15th of November. Around 20 ales will be available, including festival specials and beers from new breweries, plus quality Indian food. FREE entry too. It's a bit of a trek from MK, but the Stagecoach X4 bus offers a direct service via Northampton and Wellingborough, both of which offer good pub options for stops. Tom Smith Ales are planning to return to brewing in Kettering, so may become a LocAle brewery again soon.

Attention all new members! Our traditional welcome social one month after the Concrete Pint festival takes place at Wetherspoons, CMK (known as Old 'spoons to many) on Tue 17th of November. Hopefully you'll all have your membership packs, including the Wetherspoons discount vouchers, but we should have some spare if you don't. If you are an existing CAMRA member, you are most welcome to join us too! Further details later in the month.

MK Food Revolution are hosting their first Beer Club night at Bucks Star Brewery, Stonebridge, on Fri 20th of November, running from 7pm to 10pm. The evening will feature beers from Bucks Star, Concrete Cow, Hornes and Leighton Buzzard breweries, accompanied by nibbles and a chance to chat to some of the brewers. Tickets, available online, cost £12 (plus booking fee) and there are only 15 places available, so be quick if you want one. Further Beer Clubs are planned for the future.

We hear that the Rising Sun, Berkhampstead, is to hold another beer festival between Thu 26th and Sun 29th of November. Keep an eye on their Facebook page and Twitter feed for confirmation and further info.

Don't drop a clanger, go and eat one instead! The Little Buzzard Bakery will be providing Bedfordshire Clangers to help celebrate Bedfordshire Day at Leighton Buzzard Brewing Co on Sat 28th of November. The brewery will hold an open day between 10am and 6pm and will be launching two new beers; Bedfordshire Best and Xmash (a Christmas beer). Take Arriva bus 150 to Leighton Buzzard Hight Street or hop on the regular rail service. The brewery is around 15 minutes walk out of town.

What is nihamanchi? According to Wikipedia, nihamanchi is a beer brewed by indigenous peoples of South America. You probably don't want to know more than that!

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 Saturday, 28 November 2015 11:25

Welcome social for new members

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Wetherspoons, CMK.

On Tue 17th of November from 8pm onwards, we hold our social to welcome new members at (the hopefully fully refurbished) Wetherspoons, 201 Midsummer Boulevard, CMK. It is the JDW pub nearest the railway station, often called 'Old Spoons'. If you don't know (or can't remember) what we look like, we'll have a CAMRA chalkboard on our table(s), just wander round the room until you spot it!

All new members are invited, particularly those who joined at last month's MK Concrete Pint beer and cider festival.

In fact everyone's invited: Old members, new members, members who've never been to a social, members who've been to loads of socials and any number in between. And it's not just members – bring a friend, bring your wife / girlfriend / husband / boyfriend or any combination! Anyone who you think may be interested in real ale (or not) is most welcome.

Don't forget to bring your JDW vouchers to get 50p off a pint of real ale or cider, which should have been sent to you with your membership pack. Hope to see you there!

Last Updated on Sunday, 15 November 2015 15:05

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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