I love a beer festival all those lovely beers to choose from however with the raise of non CAMRA beer festival it is becoming that CAMRA are letting themselves down. Yes I know it's all volunteer work but at the last two major beer festivals. It has become nothing more than a shambles.
Over at Manchester a couple of weeks ago we arrive at opening time to find almost no beer on sale as none has been poured through and checked. It actually took half and hour to find a beer on sale.
Over to Derby for the winter ales festival the creme de la creme of winter beer. We get off to a good start we arrive early and are allowed in early although we couldn't touch the beer till 1pm. Now this is a trade session for brewers, writers, pubs and bottle shops. To sample a few beers and to network and find out who has won champion winter beer of Britain. However it's more like a German invasion at the holiday swimming pool. The place is packed with those rushing to tables complete with a full blown picnic to get comfy for the day. Who what and how do these people come under trade I have no idea it appears to be a beer ticker session and it's something that should be looked into maybe due to the fact that no ones tickets were checked as we entered.
The next shambles of the day is the announcement of the winners of the day now sat a mere 10 m away from this we heard nothing but a sound system of mumbles. We have the chairman of CAMRA stood next to us. Two points why is he not on stage and why is he doing nothing about the sound system. We found out who won by a press release that was emailed out moments later.
My other bug bare of the day was locating some of the beers one was Yorkshire brewery of Hull they should have been next to Yorkshire Heart. No sign of them so decided they hadn't made the trip. I found them 4 hours later tucked away at the end of the winners bar. What they were doing there I have no idea. The other thing was not knowing was had made the winners bar so trotting up to the main bar to find beers not on only to find out later they are on the winners bar.
Now the main issue of the day is what the hell are people doing messing about with the beers a number of beers had a sign on to say they were waiting to be checked. We saw this in action now I was with a beer writer & two brewers who were shocked to see what took place next. Beer gets poured into a jug, torch comes out and is then checked to see if the beer is cloudy. Two other jugs appear both filled with who knows i'm told it's two types of finings. Beer is then mixed with mystery liquid and then poured back into the barrel. What gives CAMRA the right to mess about and do this with the cask beer. Has the brewer been asked, was the beer unfined to start with. Is the beer a vegan beer?
All this is taking place in view of the public and a number of these people will be new real ale and beer festivals what kind of image is this giving potential new members. Sometimes it does seem to be one step forward and two back with CAMRA and this is coming from an active member.
On the plus side we had some cracking beers of all different styles. I also picked up a couple of bottles before heading to the other side of Derby station to the Brunswick and the find of the http://www.alexandrahotelderby.co.uk/ well worth a visit.