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Campaigning for good beer in good pubs in north Lancashire and the Ingleborough area

CAMRA Lunesdale

Local boys make good

The line-up on the bar

Brewery and city pub join forces for memorable fest

The initiative of a city-centre pub manager and the flair of a brewing family have combined to stage a mini beer festival with a distinctly local flavour guaranteed to ward off the chilly airs of Autumn.

Tom Russall, duty manager at Wetherspoon’s Sir Richard Owen pub in Lancaster, had the idea of inviting the popular Kirkby Lonsdale Brewery to set out its wares in a week-long mini festival where punters could sample the entire regular portfolio of beers at their leisure. Tom, who has been at the pub for only a few months, is keen on hosting more festivals featuring local and regional brewers.

Day 2 of the fest was enlivened by the presence of three of the five-man brewery team who (over a few pints, naturally) talked to customers about the brewery’s astonishing success and their plans for the future. Alan Stephenson, Ben Taylor and Robert Taylor were the informative and entertaining hosts of the session.

At a time of gloom in the business world, the real ale scene is flourishing and nowhere more so than Kirkby Lonsdale, whose 6 barrel plant is working flat out. “We just can’t keep up with demand,” said Alan. Expansion is on the cards, though that would involve a major investment and the economic situation is uncertain to say the least. “As a minimum we’ll probably go for additional fermenters and perhaps a bigger hot liquor tank,” he added. A barreling plant is also a possibility.

Drinkers visiting the Sir Richard Owen this week will find the wonderfully hoppy session beer Ruskin’s Bitter, together with the other best-seller Monumental Blonde, a golden ale with a 4.5% kick. They can also enjoy the rich, multi-flavoured Radical Red and what many regard as K-L’s masterpiece, Jubilee, an outstandingly rich and complex stout. All in good condition and at Wetherspoon’s bargain prices.

Julian Holt, Press Officer for Lunesdale CAMRA, said that the event showed just what the trade was capable of. “Kirkby Lonsdale Brewery is run by people all of whom have other businesses as their main occupation, but the team is immensely dedicated and prepared to put in hours of hard work to produce these remarkably tasty ales. It seems like a labour of love. Add to the mix Tom’s role in setting up the festival and keeping the beers well, and you have a great example of creative collaboration. The big winners here are local real ale drinkers.&rdquo