Thursday May 24th found me at Cambridge Beer Festival. This is the 34th Summer Beer Festival run by Cambridge CAMRA, and has grown to become the third biggest in the UK behind GBBF and Peterborough.
This year it boasted more than 170 real ales, and 60 plus ciders, perries, foreign beers and meads. I think they undercounted on both those figures having read the programme.
I was impressed with the range of beers. I think it's particularly important for festivals to support local breweries, and all of Cambridgeshire's were in evidence. There could have been more milds as it is May, but all in all the selection was good. There were local cider and perry producers also, and a local vineyard for the wine lovers.
Once again the festival was on Jesus Green, a public area of greenland just a short walk from the city centre, and was held under canvas but with a reasonable amount of seating outside. There would have been insufficient indoor seating in the event of rain, which I encountered in 2005 and 2006, but we were lucky weather wise this year and I have the white marks to prove it.
As I was drinking alone I was limited to just twelve new beers and I aimed primarily for new breweries for me. Unfortunately two I was hoping for were not available on my visit (Devil's Dyke and Famous Railway Tavern). So I was lucky to score the following new British breweries:
Additionally I had two foreign beers and a cider and a perry.
The beers were struggling a bit in the heat but the condition could certainly have been a lot worse.
My beer of the festival was Kilderkin Double. Kilderkin Brewery is a fairly new brewery based in Cambidgeshire and they appear to be specialising in Belgian Style beers as they brew a triple also. The double was pretty true to style but perhaps had a little too much in the way of licquorice flavours and not enough candy sugar sweetness. I'm really not complaining though as I am excited that a British brewer is being adventurous in its beer styles and I hope others follow suit. I shall be on the search for their triple.
Another thing Cambridge BF is proud of is its cheese counter. Speciality cheese can be purchased together with good homemade bread and pickles and pies. I must admit I think the food is expensive, but I am all in favour of good real food.
The festival was non-smoking under canvas and the rule didn't appear to be broken. Additionally there were sufficient toilets which is always a good thing at festivals.
My festival ended with six new beers to take out from the foreign beer stall and a trip to Bacchanalia on Victoria Road where I bought seven more. Happy days!