Schmood more like...
For the purposes of his post, food has to be recognised as both solid and liquid. Mainly liquid. In fact, in terms of the "food" I sampled at the food festival, entirely liquid. Well, its a beer blog after all.
So once again, it was a warm September Saturday, and crowds were gathered in a bustling and noisy Peace Gardens, possibly concealing bottles of White Lightning or cheap sherry, enjoying the sights and smells of the Sheffield food festival. Stalls lined Fargate and Pinstone Street, and at the centre of it all, far more important than any other aspect, was the beer bar of the Sheffield Craft (coughs) Brewers Co-operative.
To get my own unique angle on the event, I was sat in the tent next to it - supporting local small businesses. How very locally engaged of me...
This year the bar features 8 breweries and staff from all of them were working behind the bar through the three days of the festival serving pints and offering advice to punters. The roll call was Abbeydale, Blue Bee, Bradfield, Brew Company, Kelham Island, Sheffield Brewing Co, White Rose and Wood Street breweries. Plenty of "real ale types" from the Sheffield scene were there but crucially, I spotted and overheard a lot of people looking to try real ale as a change or for the first time. In the spirit of the food festival, people were sampling the unusual, and as far as I could see, loving it. At £3.00 a pint regardless of strength, the beer was good value as well.
After a fortnight of tasty Pilcrow the only sensible choice for my first pint was a dark beer - alas we missed Brew Co's Oat Mocha Stout and instead plumped for a couple of pints of Blue Bee Lustin For Stout. This year for the bar they had invested in some rather more sturdy plastic glasses, meaning grabbing it with any force didn't result in you squirting quarter of a pint of beer over yourself, and the other bonus was the appearance of seating, which made this much more like a beer festival bar. Soon myself and Miss N were joined by J9 and Dave, Feasty, Gav, Gary and Clair and Mr P, and set about securing a large table in the sunshine. Cue four hours of enjoyable socialising and drinking.
Back to the beer then, and another couple of pints of Blue Bee Lustin for Stout were purchased, before we switched codes - both of us moving on to pints of the Brew Co Stateside Pale, as recommended by the brewer. As the bar was getting busier, at the same time the sun was getting hotter, but the only damage to the beers was their availability - pale ales were running out left right and centre. That said, the Lustin for Stout went very early on in our session.
Real food lovers (i.e most of the rest of our throng) wandered off at times to sample the likes of curried goat, Nepalese curry and hot roast pork sandwiches at nearby stalls, whilst we manned the table and continued our drinking. Next up were pints of Bradfield Farmers Pale, that being, as I have often mentioned, my favourite Bradfield beer, before we tried pints of the Kelham Island Knight Rider.
Eventually we got to our final festival drinks - a pint each of the Blue Bee Tangled Up IPA, before we headed down to the Rutland with Mr P to worship at the altar of the people's porter. According to the Rutland, who is a person, its the taste of Wee beefy. I am very pleased to assure you that none of my person ended up in the beer...!
So, had I been more sober and less busy am sure I would have checked out other pubs and beery delights - I hear the Beer Central shop proposed to open in the new market on the Moor have a stall, and there are, as I'm sure you know, plenty of pubs in and around the festival serving a range of real ales. The festival is on til this evening and the bar will be open for some of that time - last year I think it closed around 16.00 so you should be OK for an al-fresco pint if you get your skates on...