As I arrived at the Brewery and parked up this morning, you could have been forgiven for forgetting it is July – the van parked next to me had frost on it. Frost on 31st July is pretty unusual, and not helpful to the tourism trade! August tomorrow, and we haven’t seen a lot of Sun. But that hasn’t stopped the festival season, which seems to be in full swing, and our resilient nation braving the less than warm temperatures. It has made handling beer at outside events a bit easier, but I would rather warmer weather, and the challenge of refrigeration, because that means people may be drinking more.
There is an annual music event in Hooky, and this year for the first time we hosted it here at the Brewery. I have said before, for me the word festival is important, and events need to be multi-faceted, and not just one dimensional. So we decided to have a wider beer range, and I was actually humbled when we realised just how many we could offer when beers from our micro brewery were included. But wanting to really have a broad offer, we also procured beer from Turpin’s Brewery in Hook Norton, and CATS Brewing from Shenington. Some asked why we had what could be seen as competitors beers at an event at the brewery; but I like to think of myself as a self effacing sort of chap, and the range we offered was well received, a great variety, and with a total of 18 different beers available, offered a fantastic choice. Some people even took a different interpretation to the old “Challenge 18″ scheme, but I can’t possibly comment, as we all know Big Brother gets concerned when we exceed the 4 unit threshold; happy of course to collect the duty and VAT, but got to be seen to be responsible. Not that the revelations in The Sun last weekend showed responsibility at Government level, as I am not sure how many units of Coke make up the recommended guidelines. But back in the Cotswold Hills, we had an excellent festival, with a great choice of local beers, and every drop was sold. Cooled beer, kept in a refrigerated truck, and with proper cask cooling – that’s something we are quite good at.
Hook Norton Festival of Fine Ales is now a firm date in the beer calendar, and this year was a record 130 beers, all donated, and over a very pleasant Saturday, the lot was drunk. Each year the event gets better. It is organised by a volunteer committee, and we assist with logistics and technical support. An early delivery on the Friday morning, and by 8am, 130 firkins were sat settling, with in line cooling, ready for the big day. I had printed off a beer list, made notes the night before, and started well annotating my notes, but as ever my discipline faded during the evening, and then I lost my notes. A great event, and there will be a huge amount of money raised for charity.
And last week, one of my favourite events; a relatively new one to the scene, but the Birmingham Beer Bash is a really intimate friendly event, with an excellent range of beer styles. Some quirky beers, some quite extreme flavours, but a great opportunity to introduce people to more beers. Notable ones were a Burning Sky sour, a Beavertown beer with tea in it, and some Ballast Point canned and bottled beers. A really fun and informative day, with great company in John Romer from Turpin’s Brewery, Mark our new Marketing Manager, and my son George. We couldn’t leave Birmingham without a pint in the Wellington, so finished my evening with an Oakham Citra.
So we may still be waiting for the sun to join us, but in the meantime, we have had some fantastic beery experiences, and more to come I hope.