CAMRA Members’ Weekend is taking place at the University of Warwick, so here’s a brief guide to the campus, local area, and the student ale society that calls it home, writes Rachel Parker.
Warwick University Real Ale Society (WURAS) is almost as old as the university itself and continues to be one of the most active student real ale societies in the country, working to bring real ale to as many students as possible.
For almost 40 years, the society has hosted the renowned Warwick University Real Ale Festival in mid-February, and as the largest student run ale festival in the country it draws visitors from far and wide.
The three-day event boasts more than 120 real ales, 50 ciders and fruit wines, plus an international beer bar, as well as nightly entertainment from Victorian pub pianist Dr Busker and the university’s own Big Band Society
As well as running a festival, the society also tours other festivals around the country, including Birmingham, Manchester and Reading, as well as visiting local breweries to learn more about the process of brewing beer. A new collaborative brew with the wonderful Twisted Barrel Brewery featured at last year’s festival alongside a returning collaborative effort with Slaughterhouse.
During the rest of the year, there are a number of local watering holes which the society frequently attends. Bar Fusion on central campus is the place to go for craft and international beers as there’s usually foreign beer on tap, and they also have a good range of craft cans and bottles. Varsity, a relaxed pub that’s only a five-minute walk from campus, usually has four or five local cask ales on, plus the occasional ale or cider from further afield.
The fortnightly society socials always begin with a pint in The Dirty Duck, the student union pub. It’s located on central campus and is the most convenient place for a quick pint. There are always three hand pulls from local breweries such as Byatt’s, Wye Valley, plus three hand-pulled ciders from Lilley’s.
Socials continue off campus as WURAS head out to explore some of the finest pubs in the local area, including traditional venues like Coventry’s 2017 pub of the year, The Old Windmill, which is housed in one of the few surviving 16th century buildings in the city and offers a 10% CAMRA card discount. The society also frequents some of the area’s more modern establishments, like Fizzy Moon and House in Leamington Spa. The former brews their own beers – which can be a little hit and miss – and also has a solid range of guest ales, while House is a thoroughly unconventional place with repurposed casks for urinals, an open-air attic garden and three separate bars offering impeccably kept real ale on cask and keg alongside a good selection of bottled craft beers.
Kenilworth, another popular WURAS haunt, is a quaint town with plenty of charming establishments, such as the Famous Virgins and Castle and the Royal Oak, and it’s a great place to go for a quiet(ish) pint in a historic setting.
With so much to offer ale lovers both on campus and in the surrounding area, The University of Warwick is the ideal place for the 2018 Members’ Weekend. And if you simply can’t wait, don’t miss next year’s WURAS Festival on the 15-17 February 2018 for a chance to sample all that this great region has to offer.
For information on travel and accommodation look for details in What’s Brewing and on wb.camra.org.uk and the agm.camra.org.uk site
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