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    Thursday, 23 August 2007

    Peterborough BF - Warning Rant Within


    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.

    6 comments:

    John Clarke said...

    Dear me, the foreign beer list is so full of junk that it almost beggars belief. There are one or two stars but as for the rest...

    Boak said...

    I think the third is a great idea for beer festivals.

    There's a Belgian beer festival in December where tasting is in 15cl glasses! My metric to imperial conversion is ropy but I make that a quarter of a British pint.

    http://www.kerstbierfestival.be/ENG/index.htm

    Stonch said...

    The foreign beer bars at festivals are invariably popular, proving there's demand. Beer festivals provide just about the only chance you'll get in the UK to drink a decent German beer served without CO2 pressure, after all.

    Stonch said...

    You should raise the issue you had with the third pint measures with CAMRA. The head honchos are very keen on them (rightly so), and will want to know if there's problems in the implementation on a local level.

    Anonymous said...

    We visited on friday and joined the members queue on the evening which moved faster than the non members. On Saturday they came up the members queue collecting money and giving wrist bands as we waited, so straight through. Maybe there were complaints from the Thursday session.

    maeib said...

    To anonymous. I think they were embarrassed with the queues on Thursday and clealry made steps to tackle he problems which is really good. I wonder if they did anything about the thirds though. I think all the while it's not CAMRA policy then festivals will be autonomous and make incorrect decisions. CAMRA need to adopt the third pint as policy at all festivals without delay.