its true that in fact, the Sheffield Food Festival 2012 (not the Sheffieled, as I typed yesterday whilst hungover!) is still on, throughout today and into Sunday, but I don't have time to wait for all that to happen! This is hot news so I'm going to throw it out there early....
So, this is my first year visiting the food festival. I never really heard about it before, perhaps because if its about the same time each year am usually on holiday or thinking about Sheffield beer festival, a far beery-er and potentially finer event, I'm sure you'll agree.
This year, I understand in contrast to previous years, the main draw is a Sheffield Breweries Co-operative Craft Beer Marquee, in a tent in the Peace Gardens. Now its important to get ones sniggering out of the way early on, at the hilariously ironic concept of freely available alcohol in the Peace Gardens, which of course unlike the rest of the week, its not being drunk from green plastic bottles by outdoor lager enthusiasts. Oh no, this comes in, albeit plastic, glasses, and is served by the brewers themselves. What's not to love?
A brewers dozen. Minus 3.
The beer tent features , according to the website link here and as seen with my own eyes, beers from nine Sheffield breweries, and there are tutored beer tastings and information about the ingredients and processes used.
For reasons of pedantry its important to set straight a few anomalies here. For instance, Welbeck Abbey brewery, no matter how generous your interpretation, isn't in Sheffield. Its also worth noting that the Sheffield food fest website described the tent as a marque, not a marquee, and also that erstwhile Sheffield brewing giants On The Edge Brewery, Little Ale Cart and Steel City Brewing weren't represented. But lets not get tangled up in facts. As regular readers will know, I rarely let them encroach on my writing...
Last night there was Rich from Blue Bee, Dan from Abbeydale, Pete from the Brew Company, Mick (I didn't speak to this gentleman, so hopefully someone identified him correctly) from Kelham Island, and Alison from the new Wood Street Brewery. All but Rich were behind the bar, on which there were a selection of ingredients, some instantly familiar and some less so, for smelling, and I assume tasting, although I wasn't tempted to try.
|Dave can sense crystal malt and fuggles nearby...|
The crystal malt interested me straight away (indeed, I did spot Dave U, above, from Steel City Brewing, and I reckon it was the presence of crystal malt on the bar that forbid his and Steel City Brewing's involvement) and I quickly identified that smell. Sorry, that's not very professional. I mean, aroma. For ease of recognition, Pete had brewed a beer (with a red label, I didn't have the heart to tell him I couldn't read the bugger) which I tried, and it did, indeed, taste of the caramelly, slightly sweet crystal I had in front of me. He explained to me about the different colour of malts, and how the roasting process caramelises the malt, lending, I think, that distinct flavour.
The sample of fuggles hops was less obvious. Not as much aroma by a long way, as with the maris otter, which reminded me very faintly of biscuits, and without an obvious single varietal example on offer, it was very difficult to translate the aroma into a beer flavour. On the other hand, just one whiff of the dried citra hops told me straight away that I was back drinking the matchless Brodies Citra. A powerful pungent aroma which just said refreshment.
Speaking of which, whilst at the bar of course, it would have been rude not to have had some beer. I started with a half of the Yellow Wood IPA from Wood Street, which was OK, but lacked the hoppiness I and it, craved, as well as two excellent pints of the Blue bee Glitterati. It was nice to taste it again in the sobering environment of the festival - I describe it thus because somebody turned up in a short sleeved shirt. It was chuffing perishing.
I finished on a half of Back to Black from Kelham Island. It was just about the only dark beer on (I understand suppliers were encouraged to only supply pale beer, which is presumably down to Sheffielders love of pale beers, but not exactly complimentary about the scope of our collective palates) and went down a treat. Alas, it did nothing to warm me up.....
Unfortunately, planning has not been my forte of late so I hadn't considered that in fact the bar may close quite early. That being 20.00. And this, after having arrived at 17.00 to find most of the food stalls winding down for the day (although I did get an excellent sausage butty from the Whirlow Hall Farm BBQ, and not a bad price at £2.50, which couldn't be said of the absurd costs in some of the more exotic stalls) proved to be my undoing. I did manage 2 hours schmoozing with brewing nobility, but I really will have to pop back again today en route to the Abbeydale Rugby Club beer festival. There are still a lot of stalls and products that I fancy trying.
So, that's all the gen I have on the Sheffield Food festival 2012 for now, more precisely the all important beer tent! Many thanks to the brewers I met for their advice and company, and beers. (and apologies to any foodies reading this, I concede I didn't really go into the whole "food" aspect of the festival very much...or at all)
In conclusion, with the weather promising to warm up today I think the peace gardens will be an enjoyable venue for a pint this afternoon, maybe to accompany some fresh hot food. I'd warmly recommend a visit. And don't forget the Abbeydale RUFC beer festival...