just a quick update on my return visit to Rotherham Real Ale festival (Baa's of steel) which I went to Saturday afternoon for a last few.
Firstly, the beer range was still quite extensive when I arrived at 13.00, and some of the better ones from Thursday were surprisingly still on sale - particularly the excellent Brass Castle offerings. There was also a lot more people there by about 17.00 as would be expected. One real boon this year was the decision to keep the bars open, which made more sense, at least from a punters point of view.
This time I made the effort to get to the North East bar, but alas I have to confirm that I found little to my taste. Notwithstanding that I didin't try the Mordue offerings as I had them before, and the Yard of Ale and Cullercoats ones because there was too much of a queue, the only beer that I enjoyed sampling in this room was the Stable Brewery Silver Buckles IPA, a well rounded 4.4% beer that couldn't really claim to be an IPA but was enjoyable nonetheless.
One of the good things that this shows is that you were very unlikely to buy a bad beer if you exercised your right to try first - in the North East room I tried 7 before I got one I liked, but that was very nice. This supports the try before you buy ethos fully. And given the rather generous leanings of the excellent volunteer bar staff, I was getting nearly a quarter of a pint per taste! Alas this laissez faire approach to festival going did not extend to the food prices as bemoaned previously, although I have included a picture of a man masticating, to help in someway illustrate that the food was nice, just overpriced..
On a similar note, this was also to be a social occasion and I was meeting up with Allie and Malc, Aidibobs, Tim n Jim, Matt and his family, and others, as well as a slightly hungover Mr Robbery who had accompanied me on the Thursday. The different locations of the groups made it easier to move round the different bars and catch up with people on the way round instead of being tied to one location and moving en masse. This did mean I spent a fair amount of time wandering around by myself though....
The downside to a Saturday afternoon trip is that, as well as the inevitable rubbish public transport links (an hour from Handsworth, perhaps 5 miles away?) as the day draws on, there is a reduction in the choice of beers. This was highlighted starkly by my having waited to have two of the Elland 1872 porter, for my last beers, only to find it had gawn nrunnart.
Still, despite this obvious disappointment, I made an effort to enjoy myself, (as did the other festival goers as above) and I managed to sample the following beers on my afternoon peregrination:
Great Newsome - Marvellously Poetic Porter
North Riding - Neilsons Sauvin (I couldn't resist a third half of what was my runner up best festival beer)
Treboom Drum Beat
Stables Silver Buckles
Tempest Cresta Black
Youngs London Porter
Owenshaw Mill Katy's Blonde
Saltaire Cascadian Black
Saltaire Cream Stout
Of the above the Kinver Khyber and the Thorne Lighter were perhaps the standout ales, and as suggested above, I had the Neilsons Sauvin again because it was so good.
My festival Top 3 beers were therefore :
3. Brass Castle Cliffhanger/Bad Kitty (tied)
2. North Riding Neilsons Sauvin
1. Elland 1872 Porter.
Notable praise should also be aimed at the fact that I could use my Thursday glass again, and the fact that the two Thursday beer tokens I found in my wallet could be exchanged for 2 valid Saturday ones at no extra cost - and, as mentioned earlier, the fact that the festival opened throughout the day.
All in all this was a fantastic festival which, despite many concerns about the cost, delivers a thoroughly enjoyable festival experience, at a unique venue, with a fantastic selection of beers.