There’s been a few reports of disillusion with Beer Festivals recently (e.g. here ). I’m not a fan, but each to their own, and as Pub Curmudgeon noted, they’re increasingly a social event.
But even with decent seating (Manchester),they can never be as cosy an experience as a Boar’s Head or a Black Star, and I can’t say the beer’s any better overall. And while I’ve no interest in rare beers anyway, the fact is you’ve a choice of at least a hundred in Cambridge tonight, so Fests can hardly be said to be the only route to new beer styles.
Ultimately though, they just eat up units better spread over new Beer Guide ticks.
But in the interests of research, I did Booze on the Ouse in St Neots for the first time today.
St Neots is an average market town with some above average pubs, though with better beer quality than range (hoorah !). So there’s some logic to a Fest giving access to beers you won’t find locally. Yes folks, this is a town where you won’t find Plum Porter (boo !)
That said, it was clear quite a few of the early entrants to the Priory on Thursday were invaders from Peterborough and Cambridge, where choice is somewhat wider on a daily basis.
The good news, this is a well “curated” selection of beers, focusing on the beers from local brewers you might actually find in free houses (e.g. Nero, Citra) and the pick of the incomers (Plum Porter, Bingham’s Vanilla Stout). Nothing on KeyKeg and no European bar, but you won’t find me complaining about that.
Most importantly, the quality was excellent. I had thirds of Tim Taylor Dark,amd Langton and Digfield’s Pales, before succumbing to that ideal lunchtime drink for retirees, Lees Moonraker. All were NBSS 3.5 or thereabouts, drunk out of a pint glass of course.
In fact, I’ve nothing but praise for Hunts CAMRA. It’s just I don’t like drinking in a sports hall that reminds me of my accountancy exams c.1987, with lots of chaps making copious notes on their programmes.
The landlord from the nearby Pig n Falcon was distributing flyers for his own festival, and I bet he gets a boost to trade at his idiosyncratic boozer, which is how it should be.
Booze on the Ouse is on till Saturday night. St Neots pubs are, hopefully all year.