Cambridge Beer Festival

Chips, mayo and Orval. Perfection.

After being a punter at the beer festival on Monday night and Wednesday lunchtime, I was back on Thursday night and all day Saturday to work. Normally I would be behind the bar selling awesome British cask ale, but this year I decided to work the foreign beer bar instead. I worked the same bar at the winter beer festival, but it’s small change compared to the summer festival, so I knew I was in for some hard work.

Thursday night was pretty constant and not really knowing where anything was in the fridges, meant for a challenging first hour or so. Saturday was a different kettle of fish, it started out slow then peaked and troughed throughout the rest of the day. The peaks were manic at times with large groups of blokes looking for cooking lager substitutes and gaggles of girls unsure of what to have.

The thing I like best about working the beer festival is the chance to evangelise to the punters about beer and working the foreign bar means you get a different sort of punter to evangelise to. I spent most of my time telling people they needed a Dead Guy in their life, quite a few took the recommendation and we sold out early Saturday evening.

Another benefit of working the foreign bar is drinking the beer that you’re selling. Normally I’d be trying all sorts of British real ale, but this festival I was knocking back the lambic with gusto. I also managed to try some Orval with chips ‘n’ mayo, it goes really well but I didn’t take any notes, so I’ll have to repeat the pairing, which will be an immense hardship…

I crashed at my friend Toby’s house after both sessions, I got to bed earlier on the Saturday as we stayed up nattering and drinking beer on the Thursday. Toby opened a few corking beers, Liefmans Goudenband on the Thursday, a Cantillon Saint Lamvinus and a 1985 Eldridge Pope Thomas Hardys Ale on the Saturday. The Thomas Hardys Ale was spectacular, utterly, utterly amazing and a realisation that ageing beer can produce phenomenal results.

For my part I took along my open bottle of BrewDog’s Sink The Bismark! and some Williams Brothers Fraoch 20 on the Thursday. Saturday saw me take in a bottle of Montegioco La Mummia for The Lambic Monster to try. "A fucking good attempt" was his view, which happened to be shared by the other who tried it.

This was the first time I’ve taken beer to a beer festival, rather than just drinking what’s available. It was great to share awesome beer with other people who’re passionate about beer. I’ll definitely be taking some more to the next festival I work, I’ll also be sticking a few bottles away and forgetting about them for a decade or two, just to see what happens.

  • RateBeer Girardin
  • Gueuze (Black Label), 5%, 375ml

Other beers I drank after the festival closed:

  • RateBeer Montegioco
  • La Mummia Rifermentata, 4.8%, 1/2 pint
  • RateBeer Eldridge Pope
  • Thomas Hardys Ale, 11.7%, a sip or two…

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