With all the recent upheavals and management changes at the Rat and Ratchet, I was a little sceptical as to whether this festival would actually take place. But it did, and a damned fine festival it is too.
When I arrived the pub was fairly busy and the amount of glasses on the tables was a testament to how the punters had entered in to the swing of the festival, and were apparently intent on trying each and every beer on offer. Thankfully for the hardened 'ticker' thirds of a pint were available so it was not too challenging to sample all 15 beers.
I stuck to the cask beers - I have saved a couple of the interesting keg beers for today - and was not disappointed. With strengths from 3.8% to 5.5% and every style imaginable (within reason!) choice was going to be easy, or so I thought. But where to start - that was a problem !
I selected a safe half of White Rat and armed with the excellent tasting notes, written by Will Forrest, with hints as to style and other quirky observations, sat down to make a plan of action. He had kindly marked the new beers on the programme so this seemed to be the way to go. 'Nurse Ratched' was a decent 3.8% session golden ale, 'Bearded Rat' a 4% red ale, and 'Rat and Roll' a traditional style 3.8% bitter. Out of my first selection however, the outstanding beer was 'Uncle Rat' - the 5% American style IPA. That became moreish.
However, to be fair to to festival, I thought I ought to revisit some of my old favourites - I did not not need to try the 'Black Rat' - my friend Julie confirmed that it was on form, and she is the expert!! So, 'Sepp Ratter' came next - I just love the name! Then 'Ratweiller' - another pale and hoppy beer, then another 'Ratweiller' and another. I think I got stuck in a bit of a
rat rut, only to be relieved by another Uncle Rat.
If you have a spare afternoon this weekend, the festival runs through until Sunday and all the beers will rotate through the bar so hopefully all the choices should have been on by the close. An excellent festival and a credit to all concerned; long may it continue.