As I never say. Its ort!
Well. Good. It makes a chuffing change. I love rain, as anyone with no concept of enjoying anything does but you know now and again a blast of vitamin D would be well, a shot in the arm. So sparse have the glinting rays been over the last decade I was tempted to think that Sun fest had never been blessed with such a thing. Although 2006 was a scorcher I hear.....
Anyway this year sun was on tap as was a very large selection of rather good beers at Sunfest 2013 at the Rising Sun in Nether Green. Owned by the Abbeydale, its not really a pub I get to very often what with it being bloody miles away but almost every of the last 5 years I've rolled up at Sunfest. This year though I was heading for a Thursday visit. This would be a unique opportunity to sample an almost empty bar and to attend without 10,000 other punters.
Straight away I got my ticket card and proceeded to the bar. There were 5 staff and 3 customers. Get in! I tried to get two people to serve me simultaneously, you know, to make it worth their while but in the end I got just one person and one beer, a very tasty Smoke Bomb which was a light brown smoky ale with what I would, after the festival at any rate,m discover was their signature hoppiness - a good start.
I soon fund mys elf returned to the bar, without remembering to have checked where the beer was. In the heinous situation you didn't read last years review I'll explain briefly that all the beers have a unique code - U(pper) M(iddle) L(ower) and B(ottom) and a number. That way, both you and the staff can quickly find the brew you want. So its a bit silly to turn up, having looked at said code, with no memory of it. Yet somehow I accidentally arrived almost facing the Tiny Rebel Fubar. a slightly odd tasting but very enjoyable drop.
I caught up with Ally and Malc and Shaggy and Chris in-between spotting other beer monsters including Unpro, whom I discovered cowering grumpily in the tent tying to avoid direct sunlight. Yes kids, it seems the rumours are true.
Next up was a very refreshing accomplished low alcohol North Riding Summer ale, before I tried my first saison, the Saison Noir from On the Edge. To an extent the dark malt aspect was a little heavier than I wanted, and some people said it lacked the lemony edge of a proper saison, but to be far, since when has any saison been black? It was still a very refreshing beer.
Its probably worth listing the rest of the beers I tried, since in all honesty the order is a little unclear some 4 days letter a
Arbor Ales Monsoon Saison
Barlow Karma Citra
Cross Bay tempest IPA
Hamelsworde Brewery Cherokee IPA
Purple Moose Ygaswen
Steel City Angel of Death
Talke o The Hill Citrade
The Monsoon was my finisher but my favourite, it pains me to say, was the Angel of Death, which was really perfectly balanced. Other stand out beers included the Cross Bay Tempest, the Arbor Monsoon and the Talke Citrade.
I did intend to try one of the Keykegs (*its the future and its real ale, in fact, even more so than cask....) but they were mainly stronger offerings and the combo of sun and no food (despite a crammed wrap from Tesco) was making me a little tipsy. Not forgetting that I had a warm up half of the Green Devil IPA at the Bath - on for 6 days and somehow contriving to taste even better.
There were a few disappointments beer wise - the Barlow Karma Citra must have been the result of an evil act because it was Karma-crystal. Malt. No hops were detected. The Hamelsworde was even worse. A wincingly sweet heavy affair which I'd like to think was an anomaly. Surely.
Also, Dan Baxter, there wasn't any Ascension from Abbeydale on Key keg. Which was a shame since it sounded really nice described as being dry hopped to counteract the fact that it would be served at a lower than intended temperature. Yet despite being the subject of a rare Abbeydale blog post and being on the list in the beer tent it was nowhere to be seen. Which is a shame because that's one experiment that could have generated some interesting results on such a hot day.
Still, overall I had a very enjoyable drunken time talking beer with a multitude of people and enjoying a slightly less manic bar than I might reasonably expect on a Saturday. My only suggestion for improvement might be a £5.00 card - since, I didn't have enough money to buy an £8.00 one (now I had a glass) just to use it to top up the shortfall of 30p on one half to cash it back in. I don't have spare cash in that quantity at the end of any festival unless I haven't drunk anything!
Otherwise another well organised well run festival with some truly exceptional beers, that I won't hesitate to attend next year.
*I'd like to think you "get" the joke here. Obviously Keykeg isn't real ale. But surely that's the point. And it doesn't want to be either. Meaning us what like the few good examples get to enjoy stunning beer n Keykeg as well as enjoying the same in cask. That's called choice.....