Beer fest returns to roller rink

Lisa Wood and Nicola Loftus at last year's event
Lisa Wood and Nicola Loftus at last year's event

Real ale enthusiasts are ready to get the borough’s first major celebration of all things hopped in 2017 rolling.

The Bent ‘n’ Bongs Beer Bash returns for its 28th edition in the first week of February with the action once again taking place in the quirky, retro surroundings of Atherton Roller Rink.

You’ve got the disco lights and the netting that’s used when they play roller hockey in there, it all adds to the slightly quirky atmosphere.

Brian Gleave

Drinkers will once again be able to sample more than 70 real ales, with this year’s beer list having a moon and stars theme to coincide with the 28 days in February and the lunar month. Organised by the Bent ‘n’ Bongs Charitable Trust, the event has raised hundreds of thousands of pounds for local charities in almost three decades and this year’s event will once more swell the coffers of good causes in the borough.

The festival is now in its second year at the roller rink after losing its spiritual home at Formby Hall, but organisers say they are delighted how well the real ale community has taken to the distinct ambience of the new surroundings.

Brian Gleave, one of the trustees, said: “Last year’s first festival at the rink following the demise of Formby Hall went very well, the feedback we had was tremendous.

“You’ve got the disco lights and the netting that’s used when they play roller hockey in there, it all adds to the slightly quirky atmosphere.

“We’ve come to a three-year agreement with the hall so we think it will be a long-term home for the festival. Everyone seems to have loved it so far.”

The beer list includes a number of perennial favourites which return to Atherton year in year out, such as Taylor’s Landlord, Exmoor Gold and Sarah Hughes Ruby Mild.

The borough’s breweries are all well represented, with Martland Mill, Prospect, Hophurst and Wily Fox all sending multiple ales to the event, and there is also an array of tipples from up and down the country ranging from easy-drinking golden ales and IPAs to dark and strong beers with a few wheatbiers and fruit creations thrown in too.

Moorhouses Brewery, which is the main sponsor through its Atherton pub The Pendle Witch, will be sending its new ale Stray Dog produced in collaboration with Manchester band New Order.

There is also the foreign beer bar bringing more exotic flavours from around the world, the usual impressive selection of real ciders and perries and also a couple of new introductions. This year’s Bent ‘n’ Bongs will be the first to have a gin bar and there will also be draught prosecco.

As ever there will be live entertainment to accompany the ale, with bands including Cracked Flag and the Juke Box Heroes appearing.

Having previously supported organisations including Wigan and Leigh Hospice, Atherton and Leigh Foodbank and the Pelican Centre in Tyldesley, the festival organisers will this year distribute the money raised to a variety of smaller local charities.

The Bent ‘n’ Bongs Beer Bash runs from Thursday February 2 to Saturday February 4. The sessions are on Thursday from 6pm until 11pm with entry £3.00; Friday from 4pm to 11pm priced £5 and Saturday from noon to 9pm, with entry £6. Admission includes a glass and Camra members get a £1 discount.