Or rather the Derby CAMRA City Charter Beer Festival' to give it's proper name. Carrying the sub-heading 'The Demise and Rise of brewing in Derby' this years event was to commemorate the 50 years since Derby's Offilers Brewery closed and two of the brews in offer were re-creations of Offilers beers. It was also celebrating 25 years since brewing came back to Derby at The Brunswick Inn.
One of the trips I usually do with my friends Dave, David and Tony, except Tony was off on one of his many holidays and wasn't available so there were some pre-event logistics to take care of to get a spare oxygen cylinder for Dave to the event. This would have been achieved by taking it to a fishing day and meeting with David who would then have brought it on the train. In the end it wasn't needed as Dave sadly went down with a bad stomach bug that his grandchildren kindly passed on to him. Just a note for Tony as well, beers with an ABV above 6.5% were not being sold in pint measures.
So we were down to two of us this time. I was hampered by delayed and cancelled trains from Doncaster towards Sheffield thanks to overhead cables being damaged near Berwick and signal issues at Brough. Instead of arriving in Derby at 0951 I didn't get there until 1106. David went for a coffee as he'd arrived at 1000 from his home. Then found out he was at the wrong side of Derby railway station for the taxi rank and had to try and get back over the bridge with no ticket, it's an automatic barrier system there and he'd fed his ticket in the machine to get out.
I had used a Derbyshire Wayfarer day ticket which, alongside my concessionary pass, only cost £6.20 - it's gone up 5p from last year. That meant no reserved seat and I ended up on one of the little fold-down seats just inside the doors on the St Pancras bound service from Sheffield to Derby.
When I finally got there we took a taxi up to Market Square where the big marquee was set up and already open. A bit thanks to Derby CAMRA Chair Russ for looking out for our party arriving, expecting to be letting Dave in with his oxygen and everything to get a seat ahead of the rush. I sent him a text just after he'd been doing that. Disappointing for Dave as he had been looking forward to this one.
As always, a very wide selection of beers on offer. All in very good condition and there were very few that had already gone or were not ready. We took it in turns to visit the bar, otherwise we'd have lost our seats. As it was were missed getting a table, but that might have been awkward with there only being two of us this time. Instead we parked ourselves next to one of the big concrete blocks used to anchor the marquee down and used that as our table. Lots of little red spiders running about but they seemed to vanish as the sun came out and we had quite a decent afternoon with just one very short spit of rain.
I started out with a glass of 'pop', Dandelion & Burdock, although not as sweet as the carbonated bottled version. I'd spotted the name 'Ossett' on the end of the barrel, although the programme said it was Riverhead. Both are correct of course as Ossett Brewery own Riverhead, a small two barrel plant in Marsden, Huddersfield. Very rare to find any Riverhead beer outside the Ossett Brewery pubs themselves so I got a glass full while I could. It proved to be a popular one as it had gone not long after.
I couldn't risk missing out on Hilltop 'Classic Bitter' either so that was my second choice. I popped out to get some dinner whilst my number 4 choice attracted the spiders on the concrete block. I made sure I got a drop of the re-created Offilers Best Bitter too, I'm still trying to figure out what the distinct after taste was, perhaps dried grass or straw used in the filtering? After that we sort of played lucky dip from the long printed list. I'd really wanted to try the Fernandes 'Butterscotch & Raisin' but that had gone.
The only thing that spoiled it was the smokers. OK, so we were sat outside the marquee and it's sort of accepted that it's OK to light up once out of the tented areas. I do feel there should be an exclusion zone where people, especially those with lung diseases, could be in the sunshine without breathing second hand smoke. Many pubs have an area around the doors where smoking isnt allowed, to prevent the smoke blowing inside. There was a time where I was surrounded by six people, four of who were smoking. I bit my lip...
Had a discussion with David about the pork pies on offer and how they were making a profit. A large family sized pie was being sold at five pounds each. A portion was sold at a pound. The portion was a sixth of the whole pie but was provided with a paper plate, plastic knife, serviette and a dollop of apple chutney. Added to the fact someone had had to cut the pie up, these 'extras' seem to have cost a pound. OK, so there were six plates, six knives...
I managed to catch Russ during the afternoon and explained more about Dave's plight and being stuck at home. Hopefully he'll be back in action for the Market Bosworth Rail Ale event in a couple of weeks time.
The beers I had were
1 Riverhead (Ossett) 'Dandelion & Burdock' 3.6%
2 Hilltop 'Classic Bitter' 3.9%
3 Barlow 'Bettys Blonde' 4.0%
4 Earl Soham 'Victoria' 3.6%
5 Gaol Ales 'Jailbird' 4.0%
6 Heritage 'Offilers Best Bitter' 4.0%
7 Raw 'Baby Ghost IPA' 3.9%
8 Revolutions 'Should I Stay Or Should I Go' 4.5%
9 Great heck 'Chopper' 3.8%
10 Kelham Island 'Golden Eagle' 4.2%
11 Lenton Lane 'Pioneer' 4.3%
12 Everards 'Tiger' 4.2%
13 Derventio 'Gold' 4.2%
14 Swan 'Swan Amber' 4.4%
15 Fat Pig 'Mojo' 4.5%
16 Rock N Roll 'Berry Special' 4.2%
Beers I went for but were not available: Ashover 'Littlemoor Citra', Derventio 'Standard
Bearer', Fat Pig 'Mosaic', Littleover 'Crest', Fernandes 'Butterscotch & Raisin'
And I even managed to get back to The Corner Pin in time to have the last pint of Everards Tiger there as it ran out.