Milton Keynes and North Bucks Campaign for Real Ale

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Milton Keynes and North Bucks Campaign for Real Ale

February's Fermented Features

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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!

Last Updated on Tuesday, 02 February 2016 18:08

Crackin' Camden Crawl: The 2016 regional social

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On Sat 23rd of January we head off to that London to meet with members from other branches in the Central Southern region on the annual regional pub crawl. This year sees us head to the pubs of Camden and Kentish Town, including a couple of modern 'craft beer' bars. There are regular trains from Wolverton, MK Central and Bletchley stations with a range of different ticket options available depending on the train company you use and your requirements for bus/tube add-ons. It is possible to walk from Euston Station to Camden and the weather is set to be dry and fairly warm, but there are also plenty of bus and tube services should you want them.

Feel free to come and go as you please, skip pubs, add pubs, and start/stop when you like. As a rough guide, several branch members have arranged to meet at MK Central station just before 10:30 am. The itinerary, subject to change, is as follows:

Black Heart, 3 Greenland Place, NW1 0AP – meet here from 12 noon
BrewDog, 113 BayhamStreet, NW1 0AG – optional, craft keg only
Spread Eagle, 141 Albert Street (corner of Parkway), NW1 7NB
Quinns, 65 Kentish Town Road, NW1 8NY
Tapping the Admiral, 77 Castle Road (corner of Hadley Street), NW1 8SU
Grafton, 20 Prince of Wales Road, NW5 3LG
Camden's Daughter, 289-291 Kentish Town Road, NW5 2JS – optional, craft keg only

For further details, download the official pub list and map for the crawl in PDF format. (Thanks to Slough, Windsor & Maidenhead branch.)

Hope to see you there!

Last Updated on Friday, 22 January 2016 21:15

Branching out: AGM, 21st January 2016

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The branch Annual General Meeting will be held at the Barn, Central Milton Keynes, on Thu 21st of January 2016. Start time is 8pm sharp, so please arrive early enough to grab a beer and a seat. This is the most important business meeting of the year, as we will elect a new committee. All positions are open for election and several current post holders have indicated that they will not be standing for re-election including the key positions of Chairman, Vice-Chairman and Treasurer. Our award-winning branch magazine, Beer Moos, is also looking for a new Editor, while the newly created roles of Pub Campaigns Coordinator, Pub Preservation Officer and GBG Coordinator will also be vacant. There are a large number of positions available (most are listed on the contacts page, but also see the main CAMRA website), so if you want to get involved there will probably be something for you to do. Most positions only require a couple of hours of your time per month and it isn't compulsory to attend all branch meetings.

If you'd like to stand for any of the committee positions, contact the Secretary in advance of the AGM with your name, membership number and the names/numbers of the members who propose and second your nomination. There will also be the opportunity to stand on the night of the meeting if you can find someone to propose and second your nomination. To vote at the AGM, you'll need to bring your membership card. If you'd like further information on any of the positions, feel free to contact the current committee members. As always, the branch really needs your continued support and involvement to keep going, providing our magazine, socials and our excellent beer & cider festival.

Note that the January branch meeting will also be held at the Barn, Central Milton Keynes, on Wed 6th of January. This will be the final business meeting before the AGM and most, if not all, of the current committee should be present. This meeting starts at 8:15pm.

If you haven't managed to get a copy of the latest issue of our award winning magazine, Beer Moos, from your local the Winter 2015 issue (number 36) is now available online.

Last Updated on Friday, 22 January 2016 20:51

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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