It's this time of year many Alnwick folk flock to the market square for the annual Alnwick food festival. Happily for the last few years this event has ran alongside the Alnwick Beer festival, established in 2007 and ran by the Round Table. It's always a good show, but this year things were turned up a notch, mainly due to the inclusion of a live brewing demonstration, some festival beer (which I sold myself), great sales, loads of cheese and some quality festival organisation from the new festival organiser Karen Larkin. Here are some of the highlights...
My duty to the food festival, sell 500 bottles of festival ale (named Alf's Ale after the festival mascot) for the committee. These all had to be de-labelled, transported from Harrogate, then re-labeled for the event. I didn't give away what the beer really was too easily, but only to those who asked.
Chef Martin Hutton (a big friendly geordie bloke who cooks great food) prepares the ultimate beef sandwich with blue cheese (my stall was next to his so I got to try some, and it rocked!). He ended up using some Alf's Ale in a cooking demonstration, luckily moments before it sold out.
Ken Oliver was around doing a home brewing demonstration using his self designed brew plant which he sells. The very posh looking kits sell for a minimum price of £1300 and put my little plastic tubs to shame. Luckily this set up was positioned right next to my bottle store, allowing plenty of beer nerdery with Ken, more beer nerdery and the lovely aromas of brewing to fill the tent. Many home brewers visited for a look, so this led to more or less prolonged excessive beer nerdery to complement my beer sales throughout the first day.
his own cheese company. Some great cheese was on offer. Beer pairings for these are still in development. He also sold out.
Now for the important bit...
Alnwick beer festival. Featuring 29 mostly local beers lets one enjoy many of the finest Northumberland and Tyneside brewed beers under one roof. I myself voluntarily did a short talk about brewing at the preliminary corporate event for all the sponsors the day before the festival. Because of this my beer tokens were free (which was nice), and I was lucking to get to it when I did as the festival also sold out early on the final day.
Another thing I realised whilst knocking back halves was the date. My beer diary (which holds tasting notes from hundreds if not thousands of beers I have tried, and I am on volume 6) began on the evening of September the 18th 2005. That's five years to the day since my first records (Jennings Cumberland Ale was the first in the book from memory) and I had to celebrate with another half. But all in all the whole thing went great and it was awesome to be a part of it. Usually a busy day on Sunday wears me out for the 4am drive to Harrogate for work on the Monday, but not that I mind, this week were scheduled to brew Autumn Leaves (it's coming back!) and Nightjar, the new Brown Ale.