Monday, 26 September 2011

Community spirit

As the folk of Alnwick are aware, last weekend was the annual Alnwick Food Festival and Alnwick Beer Festival all taking place in the centre of our market town. Many of my favourite stands were out in force, cheeses, meats, ice cream, spiced chutneys and relishes, it was all there, and being a volunteer this year it was all about the community spirit, mucking in for the event and celebrating local produce.
Local cheesemaker Margeret-Ann Maxwell ran the Doddingtons cheese stall

Allendale Brewery completed the food festival with a range of bottled beers

So with a good turnout and the sun shining all was set for a splendid and entertaining weekend. The same faces, the same costumes, the same good cheer and the same end of festival freebies, in this town the food festival surely signifies the end of September and rounds off the summer. It was great being a volunteer, and this year we not only got illuminous green tops to show how important we were but our own walkie talkies. So with organisation and staff co-ordination stepped up it really made me feel safer knowing that if any trouble did occur I could easily radio in an air strike at any time.

"Alpha one this is Gray Wolf, we have a situation here at stall five involving a dog and some upturned bins, requesting an Apache strike, over"
You can probably guess why mine was confiscated.

Cookery demonstrations were frequent in the Northumberland Hall and this year celebrity French chef Jean-Christophe Novelli was the star of the show with his cookery presentations. Additionally this year there were a few cook-offs between (mostly) different chefs from around the region. The most controversial of these was obviously the local derby match between the lovely Miss Northumberland (Laura Hickey) and Miss Sunderland. I'm not sure what was cooked but the good word was out that Laura pure destroyed her ass so good for her. I suppose we can't just keep leaving it to Newcastle United to maintain the natural order of these things.   

Lewis's rendition of Slipknot's 'Duality' was excellent, but it did seem to intimidate passers by and upset a few children

Anyway's on to the important bit.

From out of town visitors to festival workers and John Bull locals, like most people, I ended up at the beer festival... More than once. Even Miss Northumberland stopped by for a few beers. The fifth Alnwick beer festival, for some reason this year was dominated by Scottish beer.

Stewart Brewing, Fyne Ales, Williams Brothers, Cairngorm, Belhaven and more, beers I had not seen on a regular basis since my time at Heriot-Watt University. So in short a lot of big guns from across the border dominated this year's beer festival. Not that I'm against that, the Scottish brewing scene of today is varied and innovative yet some brewers still hold a torch for tradition. Raj IPA for example from Tryst brewery was a brilliant take on an old school British IPA. Inveralmond Trappledouser was straight-forward enough and the Fyne Ales beers were as big and as hoppy as ever. But you wanna guess which beer sold out first, claiming the prize of beer of the festival???

Beer of the festival

Back of the net!

Since Alnwick beer festival has existed, Hadrian and Border brewery's Tyneside Blonde has won beer of the festival. All respect to them, but this year Mordue's newest core brand has breaten them to it. Head brewer Andy Burrows was probably grinding his teeth for a long while when he found out. He maybe even did an 'Eastenders' and shamshed the place up a bit in a distressed rage. Sorry Andy. 

But anyways yes, Alnwick food and beer festival, a splendid day out for all.


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