am sorry I am late posting this, have been without funds and caring for Tash, and making meals from limited ingredients in this last lousy week so haven't had the heart, energy or desire to post. Noting has changed, except I may forget what I did at the beer fest soon. So here is what I can remember....
This year I went three times, Wednesday, Friday (ye gads!) and Saturday. On Wednesday Mr Christopher Bamfordshire kindly arranged for myself and Meathouse to attend a tasting session. Its free on a Wednesday, but you still have to pay for a glass and some tokens. Once inside we followed the aroma of serious imbibing and found Chris and tables of very serious folks sniffing, peering, tasting and scoring. I enjoy the tasting sessions but am surprised how guarded and often outright arsey fellow tasters can be - its not espionage! Myself and Matty joined two tables, one with a big lad from the Closed Shop who may have been called Chris and a guy I met last year, and another with a couple from California.
They now lived in Scotland. so having asked them if they preferred cold and rain they explained that they were studying. "Luckily" for them I followed them round for the rest of the night, and even took them to Shakespeares. The bloke's name began with R and his lass was called Sam. Lovely couple.
Beers wise the range of blondes we tasted was a little underwhelming. However, since there were something like 250 beers to choose from its hardly surprising that there was so diverse a range of flavours. Some were dry, some bitter, some burntish, 2 were eggy, but this wasn't a reflection of the quality I encountered when choosing my own.
I started with a half of the NZ Pale from Electric Bear in Bath, a sumptuously hoppy starter that woke up my taste buds perfectly. This was followed by a half of Jarl by Fyne Ales and a half of the strong Nothing but the blood orange IPA from Emmanuales.
Better than all this was the keg. Thats right. A keg bar (see "evil keg" in CAMRA parlance) at a CAMRA festival is a shock, but about bloody time. Bottles, wine and cider have never been real ale but are almost always available, so why not keg? I suspect there are numerous reasons (my favourite being that they worry it may be more popular, but nobody has actually said that to me) but that matters not - it was there. And it was ace. A half of Kernel pale at 5.1% with possibly Motueka hops was purchased, along with a mighty Double IPA from Brew by Numbers. An astonishingly tasty beer! Some of the keg was more expensive than I would expect but nothing was outlandish, and the main thing was there was keg available. Looking forward to seeing more of the same in the future.
Friday was difficult to get in - Wee Keefy arrived just after 19.00 to find a long queue and a one in one out system. Figuring he could wait an hour or more, he met me and Tash in the Kelham Island Tavern. Like he said, nobody loses - the festival is full and therefore making money, and there are 50 or more excellent beers within a mile of the venue. We were on the Buxton Peach and Lemon IPA by the way - it appeared to be about £8.00 a pint, which is s surprising, since its only £5.30 at Shakespeares.....anyone know how much it was at the KIT?
Beers on Friday were limited to more Kernel keg, this time their excellent IPA, and Buxton Axe Edge (or maybe that was Saturday...). I also had Lizzie Ward from Lost Industry on cask along with Hopcraft we come in peace and a whole pint of cider. One thing to mention about the cider is there was no truly dry ciders on - you know, stuff that dissolves your jaw and leaves you gasping for breath afterwards. The driest cider one was a medium at best, although it was very tasty.
My final visit was on Saturday - I had an interesting experience getting in, and will say thanks, but am not sure why! I Had a pint of the excellent North Riding Mosaic on cask and then started on kegs, including Buxton Axe Edge and Kernel IPA again and then a Brewsmith or Horbury beer (no pen) before moving onto half a Buxton Tsar. Not a weak drop at 9.5% this was incredibly easy to drink, which is one reason, apart from the price, that I only had a half.
I also had a bottle of De Molen from Matty who was working his first beer festival. Well done to him, for working hard and showing a very good manner with customers. To be fair, he and all the staff worked really hard at the festival. Well done to all.
I would never criticise a person who volunteers to work a festival bar but I did laugh when I was trying to find the Sentinel sour beer. Having heard I liked a sour beer, and that said Rhubarb and rosehip gose had run out, he said "if you want sour, try the Stancil Barnsley Bitter - its got almost mp hops in it". I nearly laughed out loud, gawd blezzim.
Finally - food. A decent selection this year, mainly because there was a tent provided by the Beer Engine. After talking to them on Wednesday and Friday on Saturday I got me and Matty a portion of patatas bravas and a whole chorizo to share. Needless to say, and as expected, this was delicious snap, and well priced. Another new feature which I hope is repeated.
So, overall this was a fantastic festival. Love the venue, love the keg bar, love the beer range and the food. Ace.