As I said in the preview, 94 beers were on offer, from breweries near and far. Too many to sample in one session obviously, it took some time to work out where to start and what to have. I fancied a cross section of local beers, and some of those that had come from unusual breweries. The programme/beer list was not easy to read though, a magnifying glass would have been a help, but the barrels were all well marked, with beers available in pints,halves and thirds as per Camra policy, with the prices for each clearly displayed so that was a help.
Anyway, enough of that, what about the beers? The obvious place to start was the Mallinsons special,'Cheers Charlie', soon a half was being lifted to celebrate the life of one of local Camra's most dedicated members. It was a beer that would have done Charlie proud, bet it won't last long. Next to it on the bar, was another Mallinsons dry hopped offering, a bit stronger this time, and called 'The Bloke From Hull', a beer for Dave Litton, well known around these parts and a constant source of information for 'A Swift One'. So far, so good, two new beers, and two excellent ones too. What next to try though ?
I decided to try a few of the offerings from down South. Most of these were sold on gravity and the condition of some of them was a little lacking when compared to those on the bar. I tried beer from Opa Hays, Glastonbury, and Winters, but nothing really touched the spot. '8 Sail' was a new brewery to me, from Lincolnshire, and their 'Harvest' was next on the list. I hoped for great things but it was a bit too malty for my liking. Spectrum '43' sounded good, but again fell short, as did the Tydd Steam 'Golden Kiwi' but at least it was lighter and the hops did come through, just not enough of them. Desperation was setting in.
Time for a change of tack. Back to the northern beers and those that sounded a bit different. Great Heck came up with a interesting special, 'Wakefield Trinity', with its blend of English hops and local green hops it made for a good comparison to the foreign hops I generally prefer. Next came York 'Jack a Lantern' which was brewed with pumpkin, and I must confess, not to my taste.
Taking advice now, I tried the Green Jack 'Orange Wheat', a beer that I have had several times and enjoyed, but in recent times it seemed to have lost some of its hoppiness. Not this time, the blend of wheat and citra hops certainly hit the mark, things were on the up. To finish off, time to revisit another old favourite and back to Mallinsons. 'Castle Hill Premium' was excellent with its nelson sauvin hops to the fore, it would have been my beer of the festival had the 'Cheers Charlie' not just edged it.
There you have it. A quick whistle stop tour around the festival. There are still plenty of beers to keep me going for a second visit. I only hope that some of the beers I missed live up to the standards of the Mallinsons I enjoyed yesterday. If not, at least I know what is good to try again.
A word of thanks must go to Sam Birkhead, for his success at organising his first Camra festival and the dedicated team of volunteers in getting the festival running. If numbers are anything to go by, then I am sure the festival will be classed as a success.