Yesterday while all the other sensible drinkers (in the loosest term!) were enjoying their afternoon in the sun at the Hall Bower Festival, I was otherwise engaged, but after being taunted by some so called 'friends' with the beer list and their tales of good beer, myself and t'other half decided that a trip up the hill could be a good way to while away a couple of hours in the evening. What a good decision that turned out to be. Great beer and good company, in wonderful surroundings, what could be better ?
When we arrived the festival was in full swing. What I like about Hall Bower is the feeling of a purely local event, with a mixture of locals who seem to have taken the festival to their heart, and incomers who enter into the spirit of the occasion. All ages are represented, from young kids to grandparents and all mingle together quite happily. Of course the weather helps, I would not fancy being there in the rain, but sitting outside in the evening sun in the shadow of Castle Hill must be one of the best places around to drink beer.
Ah beer. Almost forgot about that. £1 for a glass and £1.25 for a beer token was an inexpensive way to sample a few on the list. The earlier visitors had made large inroads into the beers available but when we got there there was still beer on each pump, about 14, I think and still interesting stuff to sample. Naturally the Mallinsons special had been and gone, but that had been replaced by their 'Bramling Cross', a truly superb beer made with a much underrated hop, that almost made the trip worth it by itself.
OMB 'HX6' was what it said in the programme, 'a hoppy beer with lots of flavour, a traditional light session bitter'. Upham 'Nectar' was a new brewery to me and a good refreshing bitter, not too hoppy though. Old Mill 'Summer Sunshine' was a 4% beer with a nice malty background, overlaid with a pleasant hoppiness; Battledown is a brewery rarely seen in this part of the world, and their 'Sunbeam' was brewed with lager yeast to give a nicely balanced beer. I finished off with Toad 'Malted In Black ' their first, and last stout, since the brewery's recent demise. Food was also available with plenty of people taking advantage of the pie and peas on offer, I heard rumours of a bbq but that may have been and gone before our arrival.
By this time the weather had become a little chilly so it was off home, with a promise to return at opening time today to see what the punters had left. If you have never been to the festival, give it a try today, or pencil it in for next year, it is not to be missed.