Monday, May 16, 2011

CBP on tour No.1 The Chester Beer Festival

Visited on 12/5/11. On tour you say ?? Well it’s outside Chester according to our defined boundary. Also, it’s not a pub. So yes, on tour ! We used to love this event. That was back in days of yore when it was all about the beer rather than all about self-indulgent mid-life crisis ridden middle-aged men poncing about on stage pretending to be rock stars and making so much friggin’ din that it’s impossible to hold a conversation without bawling at the top of your voice. I guess we were hoping the organisers would see the folly of their ways and revert to the original format which simply involved people quaffing copious amounts of ale and enjoying ‘the craic’ with a bit of background music provided by a few folkies and the odd oompah band. When we arrived though, it was clear we’d been hoping in vain, as the stage and sound system was even bigger than last year’s. Surprisingly then, it was an olfactory rather than an aural assault which provided the first challenge of the night. I don’t know what was going on but the marquee was full of acrid smoke, the nature of which seemed to suggest someone was barbequing their socks – possibly some sort of bizarre ‘Round Tabler’ initiation ceremony I guess. Fortunately the fumes soon disappeared and we could turn our attention to the ale, following our own tried and tested beer festival guidelines - initially at least, ie:

Don’t drink anything that fluoresces. This rules out some ciders and all of the Perrys.

Don’t drink anything that prevents the passage of sufficient light to enable your fingers to be visible through the glass.

Don’t drink anything that requires the use of a knife and fork.

Don’t drink anything from ‘darn sarf’.

Application of these rules eliminated about half the brews on offer, so we were immediately down to a significant subset. However, we touched lucky with the very first beer up – Titanic ‘Nine Tenths Below’. Wow, flavoursome with extreme prejudice. We’ll be on the lookout for this one. It was fabulous straight out of the barrel in a warm tent. Properly dispensed through a diffuser at cellar temperature it should be sublime. Other beers worthy of note: Titanic Plum Porter, Chester Ales Imperial ale, White Horse Village Idiot. To be honest though, after a while it all just becomes beer festival ale. We had a few cloudy ones and even a couple o’ coiderrs. We had a CBP man in the yard of ale drinking contest an’ all, but he failed miserably – didn’t even finish it, so he’s now been disowned. Overall, it was a bit of a mixed night I suppose - we had a laugh and some good conversation (in between bouts of din !), but numbers generally seemed to be down and the atmosphere was a bit muted. Towards the end of the night there were more ‘Round Tablers’ in their splendid rugger shirts than there were paying punters. So, although the organisation was excellent as usual, this event appears to have lost its way. Our advice for next year would be to ditch the big PA (and sundry idiots in ‘crew’ t-shirts strutting round like they’re running Glasto) and refocus on the main purpose of the event – the ale. Oompah ! Oompah ! 


  1. Tarquel,

    If I may introduce myself, I am Alex and organised this year's BF. We will happily take your comments on board about the beer, however, it seems the music has gone down a treat once again and we will not stray much from that format.

    You were right in that the smoke machine needed "bedding in" and that Thursday was a "quiet night". However, Friday and Saturday the tent was full! Friday was as usual the Sponsor's night with most of the 60+ business that have supported us this year being present.

    Overall the change in format seems to indeed attract a slightly younger audience and they have dug deep to get through all the beers. Let’s not forget, festivals such as ours have a great role to play in getting a younger audience interested in real ale rather than succumb to the lure of the cheap, chemically brewed lagers! And there we didn’t do too badly: Most Barrels were empty and in the end we had a less than 10% wastage. Combine that with a total of £14.500+ raised for local charitable causes over the three nights and this BF has been nothing but a success this year.

    We aim to build on that with an even better range of beers for next year and hope to attract a great number of visitors again!

    Thank you for coming around and supporting us and hope to see you next year again!

    Kind Regards


    P.S.: If you'd like any more info offline, please let me know on - thanks

  2. Hey Alex,

    Thanks for your feedback. If you or any of your fellow 'round tablers' see a CBP man in town, please feel free to hit us over the head with a rolled up copy of this blog and we will give 5 English pounds to your designated charity.