February kicks off with an opportunity to meet up with the newly elected branch committee as the Barn hosts a branch meeting on Tue 2nd. Proceedings start at 8:15pm and you'll need to bring your membership card to be able to vote.
Congratulations to the Red Lion, Fenny Stratford, who have won a promotional visit from Al Murray, The Pub Landlord. He'll be dropping in on Fri 5th of February to serve some Beautiful British Beer and maybe a glass of white wine or a fruit-based beverage for the ladies. Be there by 6:30pm, if not earlier, to grab your spot by the bar for photo ops and autographs. If you miss him, his new tour will visit Dunstable and Aylesbury in the autumn. Al's own real ale, Beautiful British Beer, is produced by Gadds at the Ramsgate Brewery in Kent. All hail to the ale!
Enjoy the branch meetings? Fancy giving the regional meetings a go? The next one is at the Old Manor in Bracknell, on Sat 6th of February starting at noon. See the branch diary for details.
The first branch social of the year takes place on Thu 11th of February from 8pm. We'll be meeting at the Old Beams, Shenley Lodge, before moving on to the Burnt Oak, Shenley Brook End. This is a rearranged social from last year.
At this time of year, beer festivals are a bit like buses: you wait ages for one and then two arrive at once. CAMRA's national Winter Ales Festival fakes place between Wed 17th and Sat 20th of February at the Roundhouse in Derby. Entrance ranges from FREE to £2 for CAMRA members depending on the session you choose, with alternative rates for non-members. Expect at least 400 ales to be on offer, with an excellent selection of winter styles as part of the Champion Winter Beer of Britain competition. For full details, see the NWAF website.
If Derby seems too far to go for a pint, how about Luton? The 33rd Luton Beer and Cider festival is organised by our neighbouring South Bedfordshire branch of CAMRA and runs from Thu 18th to Sat 20th of February. Held at the Hightown Community Sports & Arts Centre, York Street (LU2 0JD), it's just 10 minutes on foot from Luton rail station, which has great bus links to MK as well as a slightly convoluted rail link via Bedford and Bletchley. You'll find around 110 well chosen real ales and a wonderful selection of cider and perry across three specious halls. Entry is FREE to CAMRA members at all times and is open from noon until 11pm each day. Further information, including beer and cider lists and a downloadable programme are available on the festival's web page.
The MK Food Revolution continues at pace. On Fri 19th of February there will be the latest instalment of their monthly beer club at Bucks Star brewery. This month, the focus is on German beer styles. Tickets are available online, but they are selling out fast. On Sat 20th of February, they embark on their biggest event to date in the form of MK Feast. This is a festival of local food and drink, artisan products and community groups to be held at Bradwell Abbey. It's FREE entry to all and runs from 11am to 4pm. While the emphasis will be on food, Bucks Star and Virtual Orchard will have their products on offer. Don't forget that the Prince Albert and Victoria Inn are just up the road in Bradwell Beer Village too.
If you can feel the force, it might be the beer festival at the Black Lion in near by Leighton Buzzard that's calling you. Beware though, as this is a festival of the Dark Side... Fans of dark beers – milds, porters, stouts, old ales – rejoice! Running from Thu 25th to Sun 28th of February, you'll find the pub opposite the bus stops in the High Street and all the other info you'll need on their Facebook page.
It's downhill all the way for the branch's second social of the month on Sat 27th of February, as we embark on a CMK pub crawly from the Slug & Lettuce through to Wetherspoons. We'll be wobbling between selected venues along Midsummer Boulevard and Avebury Boulevard, from Campbell Park to the rail station, starting around 1pm. Don't forget your 'Spoons vouchers, as we'll be putting them to good use!