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 !