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There were two news stories that caught my eye in recent days – the first concerns the rather predictable cancellation of Munich’s Oktoberfest, whilst the second is much closer to home, and comes from the heart of Burton-on-Trent, Britain’s brewing capital.

First Oktoberfest. The 210-year-old festival, which attracts around 6 million visitors a year, is a major event in the German calendar, but fears that it could become a breeding ground for the corona-virus have led to its cancellation. I posted about this ten days ago, stating there were concerns that the world’s biggest and best-known beer festival would have to be cancelled.

The authorities had postponed making the final decision until June, but events have now overtaken them. This comes just as Germany has taken the first, tentative steps toward loosening its lock-down, allowing small nonessential shops to start opening again. It remains unclear when bars and restaurants will be able to start welcoming customers back, but with major events which attract large audiences remaining banned until at least the end of August, the Bavarian authorities have bowed to the inevitable.

In a joint declaration, Bavaria's Minister-President Markus Söder and Munich's Lord Mayor Dieter Reiter decided that the risk for the people is too high to let this year’s event take place. Bavaria has been one of the regions worst hit by the pandemic in Europe and allowing Oktoberfest to go ahead posed too big a public health risk. The risk to festival goers, who sit packed closely together in large beer tents, infecting each other was just too high.

Söder noted that the festival attracts visitors from around the world, raising concerns about bringing new infections to Bavaria. He went on to say that “Living with coronavirus means living carefully. Whilst there is no vaccination, we need to be very sensible. We are in mutual agreement that the risk is quite simply too high; compromises will not help.”

Munich’s Lord Mayor added, “It is an emotionally difficult moment and of course it is also an economically difficult moment for our city.” Revenue from last year’s Oktoberfest amounted to around €1bn (£870m), so the event is not exactly small beer! Instead, they are looking forward to 18thSeptember 2021, when a “particularly beautiful and intensive celebration of Oktoberfest” will take place.

The second story concerns brewing giant Molson Coors, who have put part of their Burton-on-Trent brewing complex up for sale. The site, in Station Street, comprises a mix of two to four storey, red-brick buildings dating back to 1864.Two of the buildings are Grade II-listed due to their architectural or historic interest.

This historic brewery was previously connected to the still active Molson Coors site, across Station Street, by an overhead bridge until 2017, when the last brew took place. The buildings were decommissioned the following year. I’m suspecting these buildings may once have been part of the Ind Coope brewery, so it’s ironic, that just seven short weeks ago, I should have had my final pre-lockdown pint in the Roebuck Inn opposite.

According to the local press, the former brewery is part of the Borough Road Conservation Area and provides an ideal opportunity to create a unique development in a location which is already primed for regeneration. The local authority has stated it is looking for high-quality residential-led proposals, which will complement the heritage of the site.

Molson Coors added: “We are working closely with the local authority and Colliers to ensure the right investment is secured to turn this historic site into a quality residential-led development. It is incredibly important to us that this site, which is an important part of ours and Burton’s heritage, is developed in an appropriately sympathetic way and adds real value to our local community in Burton.”

So two unrelated news stories, both concerning beer, and both involving places I have visited, and drank in, during the past couple of years.Follow Blog via EmailClick to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.