The Pickerel Courtyard Ale Festival

I ended up in The Pickerel yesterday evening, it wasn’t my choice, I wanted to go to The Castle. We were in town for a curry, it was a friends 40th birthday and we were eating at The Maharaja on Castle Street. One would have thought the stumble across the road and into the excellent Castle would be a forgone conclusion, but no, for some reason everyone headed off down the hill and into The Pickerel.

Much to my surprise and delight, they appeared to have a beer festival on, so forsaking the bar, I headed out to the courtyard to see what was on offer. Unfortunately, not much, as it turned out. To be fair it was the last day of their first ever festival and they still had some Sharp’s and Saltaire on, so it was looking good.

Sharps 6 Hop IPAIt stopped looking good the moment my Sharp’s 6 Hop was placed on the makeshift bar. It had zero condition, so no head or liveliness and to be honest was like drinking some flavoured water. Two friends who had also forsaken what appeared to be the obligatory pint of Stella, couldn’t finish theirs and ended up ordering Guinness from the bar.

I however, am made of stronger stuff and went back and got another pint of flavoured water, this time a Saltaire Cascade Pale Ale. Again, it had zero condition and was flat as a pancake, which was a shame, as you could tell that with a bit of condition it would have been stunning.

Saltaire Cascade Pale AleI can’t help but think that The Pickerel has shot itself in the foot by serving substandard real ale. There must have been more than just the two in my party who were put off by the flat lifeless beer on offer. I feel it was a mistake to keep the beer in an unheated courtyard store room where it couldn’t come into condition due to the weather. Maybe next time they could keep the beer a bit warmer by heating the room, or hold the festival at a warmer time of year.

They should be applauded for at least holding a festival, which had some cracking beer judging my the menu. I just can’t help but feel it’s an opportunity wasted though.

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