I ventured over Saturday evening with Dave1985 and was met by Maff and over friends during the course of the evening. It was a beautiful summers evening and was pleasantly suprised to find the event was being held in a marquee rather than the usual venue of the pavillion. We took some chairs from inside the marquee and sat in the sun where the majority of the other festival goers had placed themselves.
At previous stagings of this event an admission fee has been payable and a programme with a list of beers received. I was pleased to discover due to the layout an admission fee was not required this time but I had to scrat around for a discarded programme as none were forthcoming.
I opted for a half pint glass at the 'bar' as I always like to sample as big a variety as possible. This was to be swapped for a pint glass in due course as after our first sampling the queue grew extensively and stayed that way. This was my first issue of the event. The queue was caused by the fact they had a very small bar area in front of a seperate tent for the casks. This could only house a few people serving drinks at one time rather than many usually in employ at the pavillion.
This set up was also the cause of my second issue. By the Saturday evening many of the casks had been finished but you only discovered which ones after you had ordered and the bartender returned without a beer. In other festivals I have attended the casks have been on display in the main marquee behind a long serving area and you could see which beers were off.
My next gripe and the most important one was the condition of the beers. Now I know the logistics of setting up this kind of event must be very difficult. Event organisers don't have the luxury of storing the casks in cool cellars for days before the event and only serving when they are at peak condition. Considering this though it doesn't excuse how badly they failed on this occasion. The beer was all served far too warm to be considered refreshing and the flavours also suffer. The majority of beers were flat, I don't expect champagne bubbles and ice-cream like heads but I do expect a bit of life. I couldn't judge any of the beers really as they were not served in a way that did them any justice.
The evenings entertainment was provided by some old couple singing to a backing track. The stage was right at the back of the marquee, the marquee that was uninhabited as everyone was seated outside. It must have been soul destroying for the act to sing to any empty tent. I don't know why the organisers didn't just hire a DJ and put some decent speakers outside.
Moaning over. Despite all my issues with the event I still had an entertaining evening, this was largely due to the company I shared. We all drank enough to end the evening rather merry. DaveBa took 2 attempts before he realised that he couldn't actually jump into a densely foliaged bush and was just left with red prickle marks up his arm. Fatty Matty discovered that if he threw a traffic cone at my head I would sit on his kneck and give him a pummeling (all in good spirit though.)