Saturday, July 24, 2010

Thurstyfest 2 Review

Thurstyfest 2 opened its doors at 1200 on a warm, sunny Friday, which I am sure those who had arranged the festival had been praying for. On my arrival around 20 minutes later (I did cheat and get a lift), there were a few locals still putting the final touches to the tents and the seating but everything else seemed to be up and running.

Soon I was fixed up with my festival glass (£2 each) and my beer tokens (£1.25 a half) and joined Denis to survey the beers on offer. My first choice came from the inside bar, which provided the usual offerings from Tetleys, Greene King and Bradfield along with a Salopian beer. The pub does have connections with the Brass Monkey brewery so it was unsurprising to find three of their beers there as well. I settled for 'Monkey Puzzle', which was new to me and set about checking the beer list for the 23 handpumps outside.To say I was impressed would be an understatement.

The system here is that each pump has a beer on and one in reserve, so that throughout the three days of the festival around 50 beers will be available. On Friday we were treated to beers from some of Norfolk's smaller breweries, a few of which I had only previously encountered at CAMRA beer festivals. They included Fat Cat, Tipples, Wolf, Winters and Humpty Dumpty. Further along the bar came some from the North East; Maxim, Hill Island, and Stables being represented, and then another batch from the Cotswolds; Nailsworth, Prescott, Blindmans and Goffs amongst these. In addition, there were offerings from Toad of Doncaster, Castle Rock of Nottingham, and Halfpenny from Lechlade. Already I could see a challenging afternoon ahead.

Soon I was into full ticking mode, and was amazed at the amount of rare beer that Richard had sourced. I found two breweries new to me, Stables from Beamish Hall, whose 'Bobby Dazzler' was excellent, and Braydon whose 'Potwolloper' was less so. However, all the beer I tried was in good nick, and despite the warm day and the barrels being outside, everything was properly cooled.

Gradually the visitors started to increase and soon most of the outside tables were occupied, either by beer enthusiasts who had made the trek from elsewhere, or locals who were there to see what was occurring. It is a great venue to sit outside and watch the world go by, catching the odd glimpse of butterflies and birds as they go about their business, and overlooking the miles and miles of fields, you seem to be an eternity away from the industrial West Riding. Plus it's not everyday you can sit at a beer festival while the local farmer walks his cows past for milking!!

Anyway, back to the beer. What was good? Humpty Dumpty 'Little Sharpie' was well received, as was the Blindmans 'Buff', and the Best Mates 'Ardington Ale'. For those looking for something stronger, I found the Prescott 'Grand Prix' a decent drink, and the Hill Island 'Griffin Stout' was a good example of its kind. The best beer I found was probably the Ramsbury 'Sunsplash' however.

The festival runs until 10pm on Sunday, with music throughout the weekend. There is a BBQ all weekend and a hog roast on Saturday, (I know, I saw the hog being delivered). I just hope the weather holds out and the beer does not run off. Especially since I want another trip on Sunday to catch the second run of beers which look equally appealing. Richard and his team deserve great credit for putting on such an interesting festival, I just hope it is a success as I cannot wait for another.

1 comment:

DutchDave said...

Yes, a very good festival with an excellent choice of beers in a picturesque setting.

Roll on the Hall Bower fest.

Dutch Dave