Of course the timings aren't so perfect that you arrive at the festival just before it opens, thus I found myself fifteenth in the queue at 11:20 grateful that the weather was clement enough for the forty minute wait.
The gates opened timeously and a table was grabbed and beer drinking commenced. I've always enjoyed my trips to the festival, and this year was no different, but somehow the beer quality seemed less good this year. It could, of course, have been my fault; I do have a tendency to buy beers from new breweries, and sometimes quality is sadly an issue.
That said, I did have a couple of impressive beers. Son Of Sid Muckcart Mild is a full bodied mild with great smoky and roasty overtones. There is a slight lactic quality to it as well. Better than that though was Ascot Anastasia's Exile Stout. My second beer from this relatively new brewery. This is a superb dry, roasty stout with some excellent bitterness. It's a beer I'd heard good things from, and it didn't disappoint.
I normally drink fairly sensibly at festivals, but something must have gone adrift in my head as two of the three last drinks I had were a brandy cask cider and a mead. I don't like brandy and I don't like honey, so I don't know what was going on here. The mead has one of the nastiest sweet aromas I've ever smelled. Please, please if anyone drinks with me in the future, don't allow me to make stupid mistakes like these again.
In spite of feeling a little let down by the drinks, I shall doubtless return to what is the second largest beer festival in the country. It's a good chance for me to meet up with some drinking buddies; some of whom are recent friends, some I've known for years. If it were further from home though, I would certainly think twice.