As I alluded to on Tuesday, I went today to the 30th Peterborough Beer Festival. I've gone most of the last ten years and always had a great time but this year things just weren't perfect. Don't get me wrong, I did still have a good time but there were little things which just annoyed me, and I'm not usually one to complain.
To start with the positives. The cask beer list was good. A nice selection of new breweries, local breweries and national breweries. I had my first beer from Leeds Brewery which I wrote about the other month. It was Midnight Bell which was a very pleasant dark mild. I also had my first beers from Appleford, Grafton, Swaton, Tydd Steam and Hopdaemon. All the beers were in good condition, and served at a good temperature. Prices were not bad for this part of the World either. 4% beers came in at £2.20 a pint as a rule.
Another positive (at least for me) was the family friendly policy of the festival. I took my two year old daughter along and she thoroughly enjoyed it. She was able to run around outside and in the music tent. There were rides for her to watch and plenty of other children to play with.
On to the negatives though. Firstly one which annoyed hundreds of people - the queue at opening time. There was a CAMRA members queue and a non-members queue. Everybody was paying to get in; £5 for non-members and £1 for members, You got your money back if you left before 5pm. The non-members queue moved at lightning speed whereas our queue moved frighteningly slow. So much so that we still weren't in 20 minutes after opening time. There is no logical reason why we had two separate queues, and it really took away any benefit on the day of being a member.
Another little gripe is the pedestrian foreign beer list. It's pretty much the same stuff every year, and crappy Huyghe fruit beers take pride of place. There are no decent German beers, and apart from a couple of Fantôme beers the other Belgian stuff is pretty common. So many festivals have great foreign lists now, and Peterborough could and should do so much better.
My last gripe though is very personal, and I am probably the only person to experience this problem today. I asked a couple of weeks ago on their guest book about 1/3 pint glasses. These are a legal measure and are becoming increasingly common at beer festivals. I received no reply but took my glass anyway. My first two requests for thirds were met with charm and good service. My third request though saw me up against two jobsworths who just completely refused, on the grounds that they didn't have a price for thirds (£2.20 a pint, I offered them 80p) and that they couldn't account for it (what does that mean). They claimed that some would say a third is not a legal measure (yeah whatever) and that others shouldn't have served me thirds (well they had and they continued to). I realise these two guys were volunteers and I'm not proud of the fact I had a go at them but show a bit of sense and logic guys and don't lie to me.
Anyway rant over and thanks for listening. I shall go back next year of course. Hopefully by then it will be CAMRA policy that all festivals will serve thirds.