In terms of the number of real ales available, Nottingham comes second only to GBBF. In terms of beer rarity and new brewery availability, most would say it's the best in the UK. It certainly is the number one festival to play scoop the scooper.
I only managed a short session there this year on the opening afternoon; and with a near two hour bus journey required to get me home, my drinking capabilities were reduced on account of bladder control.
The festival moved location this year, taking place in the grounds of the castle moving from its previous leisure centre home, complete with perilous covered swimming pool. As with all venue changes it came with teething problems. My two friends and I walked unchallenged through the castle walls where apparently we should have paid an entrance fee, and been presented with a blue wristband. We realised something was amiss when glasses and beer tokens were refused on account of being wristband-less. Fortunately common sense prevailed and we were allowed to pay at the membership counter, thus taking away any requirement to walk back down and then up again the small hill. The canvass seemed to be sweating also, as frequent drips of something undesirable fell with regularity on our personages.
That's it for complaints though. The beer selection was excellent and the quality was more than acceptable. I only had nine halves, but of these I have to mention Bollington White Nancy, a really nice hoppy golden beer from this new Cheshire micro, named after that odd looking thing on the right.
Sometimes a festival is too big for its own good. Some might say this about Nottingham as its vast range of beers is more than enough for anyone and you feel unbelievably spoilt for choice, but if you take it at face value and just drink what you can manage and what you fancy then there's no excuse for going home unhappy.
I got home happy, bladder intact (just). Next year all being well I'll have a longer stint there. Maybe I'll sit outside and take in the views with the wind blowing in my hair - hey Simon ;-)