I'm coming to the end of my three weeks off now, back to the unseemly drag of generating pay on Monday, but I have finished off my celebrations and relaxation with a trip to the Abbeydale Rugby Club beer festival.
I arrived after 17.00, a bit later than planned, due to some classic First Group incompetence - no 97 or 98's for over half an hour - then 3 came at once. Luckily, some time was saved by now knowing the correct bus stop to get off at. It was interesting to note that this year the SRUFC had excelled themselves by having ABSOLUTELY no signs whatsoever about where the festival was, or even its existence. It was only because I'd been before that I had any inkling where to go.
I'm not really sure I understand the idea of "enticing" new visitors by being invisible, but it seemed busy, if not as much as it could be, although far fewer of the customers seemed to be from outside the family of the Rugby and Sports club.
It was also smaller than last year, with a slightly reduced range, but as promised, the prices remained the same, which is an admirable achievement, and it cost precisely nothing to get in. Tickets were 4 halves at £1.25 which were marked off as you went through. A brilliantly simple procedure that required no tills, and importantly, no confusion or small change. And the volunteer staff behind the bar were cheerful and helpful throughout, as they were last year.
|Old Stock Ale - inspirational|
I started on a half of the Dancing Duck Dark Drake, which I had really enjoyed at the Exeter Arms on my last two visits. It didn't disappoint, and dark beers were to be the signature of my drinks for the night. Next, I finally got to try the excellent Abbeydale Old Stock. Not as brown as I was expecting, with a slightly amber colour, and some tremendous malt, caramel and spirit alcohol flavours that reminded me, as it should have, of a good quality aged beer. Unfortunately, at 6.9%, this was my only taster - I intended to remain compus-mentus for the event as far as was possible.
Next up was the Elland Nettlethrasher, a beer that has come through more brewery name incarnations than I care to remember (I seem to recall the first was as Eastwoods, along with Ecky Thump - anyone concur?). It was a decent enough bitter, with some hoppiness, maybe requiring a tad more.
|Men. Talking about stuff.|
I also tried a Blue Bee Rugbee Rugbee Rugbee, launched at the festival last year, and which was ironically a drink that a third of was spilt down me by some rugby players forming a scrum in the tiny bar tent. Thanks nobheads. A good tasting beer though, and one of a brace that I had before settling on my beer of the night - the other being the tasty Spire Chesterfield Best Bitter.
Said offering was the excellent Raw Dark Peak Stout. Without the usual Black Mass to slowly remove me from proceedings I opted for a sensible strength (4.5%) dark beer to finish on - I think I had 3 fantastic pints in all. A cracking way to round off my drinking, until the next time...
Thanks to Blue Bee Rich, the authoress K E Page from the world of writing, Geoff, Wee Keefy, Carlos, Half Pint, Lauren and finally my fellow Dark Star attired tweeter T_i_B, from the world of the Internet, for their company and chat during my enjoyable 5 hour stint. I even made it out for the bus in perfect time and was home for a much needed feed before midnight.
Roll on the 5th event, hopefully, for first time punters sakes, with some signage...