Take three pubs in three relatively close together villages; put on six extra casks of Northamptonshire beers and you've got yourself a beer festival. One which we christened "The Triangle Beer Festival", although on arrival at the first pub we ascertained that the logo for the fest had the pubs' three names around a circle - so an immediate fail on the shape of events.
The festival was monumental in that it became the event which heralded my first CAMRA branch trip. Oh yes, I have overcome the shyness that some would say doesn't really exist, and gone on a minibus pub crawl with people who were mostly strangers at the start of the evening, and thoroughly enjoyed myself, and will hopefully lead me to participating in many more crawls. After all being driven to beer festivals is pretty heavenly.
The three pubs involved, in the order we visited them, were The Griffin's Head, in Mears Ashby; The Royal Oak, in Walgrave; and The White Swan in Holcot. All of these village locals were busy - probably busier than usual - and much ale was being consumed. The breweries represented were Digfield, Great Oakley, Hoggleys, Nobbys and Potbelly. Frog Island beers would have been there too, but a temporary period of hospitalisation of the brewer put a scupper on that.
Having sampled all the beers on offer before I was able to try some old favourites rather than just having new beers for the sake of it. The two beers which stood out for me, as expected were Beijing Black from Potbelly, and Great Oakley's Welland Valley Mild. These two excellent beers are testament to how good milds can be, and proof that some great beer is brewed in this county.
On the non-beer front, the landlord of The Griffin's Head presented us with a free huge bowl of steamingly hot chips to show his appreciation of our visit. This was a nice touch which sadly wasn't replicated at the other two pubs but beggars can't be choosers. The festival, which hasn't happened before appeared to be a great success and should certainly be repeated in the future. Such shared festivals are getting more common around these parts and in times of pub closures are perhaps a good way of getting more custom at what might otherwise be quiet times.