Sometimes I’m a lucky bugger! I’ll admit it – but maybe it’s true, you make your own luck. Well me banging on about beer and the local Peterborough beer festival has definitely seen me get lucky, as the local CAMRA branch invited me along today (Sat 18th, 3 days before the official opening night), to get a bit of a preview tour around the site – thanks to Karl Simpson and Steve Williams.
The sun really had it’s hat on too – beating down while we walked around the three tents and outdoor areas – weather we hope will continue on throughout next week! Well to be honest I hope the temperature drops a few degrees, but the sun and dry weather stays. Hopes are high that we will be lucky, and it should push visitor numbers back up above the levels of the last few rain sodden years! Cross everything…
I’m told while the layout is going back to a ‘standard’ layout (due to popular demand), there is some new features, one being the new “singles bar”. Now that’s not what you may be thinking – it’s a special bar where the beers that are limited to a single cask will be held. So one cask, and when it’s gone, it’s gone. The beers will be available as and when they are ready to be drunk, none will be held back, so make sure you visit the singles bar on your early visits if you are going more than once (like me!).
While we walked around, I must say I’m dead impressed at how organised and hard working the volunteers all are. I believe people come from around the county and beyond to give their time to ensure it’s a great event for everyone. Maybe you may want to give it a go one year – ‘staff’ get fed and ‘watered’ (they actually have their very own special free bar, with some beers not available to the main festival!) – and I’m sure it’s a real community thing, with some camping on site too! Check out this year’s volunteer page, and get in touch with the Peterborough CAMRA about taking part.
I had heard that the tents were going to be slightly smaller this year, but the two main beer tents didn’t seem any different to me – in fact without them being full of people or some of the extra stalls, they felt bigger than ever! The music tent definitely is smaller though – but that may be a good thing, as it often is too large – the bands will enjoy the slightly less cavernous feel I reckon. This year the bands may be a little more ‘local’ – I reckon the organisers are trying to re-balance the event, so its focus is back on the ‘beer’ part of the festival, rather than spending thousands on bigger music bands. The music is a good part of the beerfest, but I’d rather money be saved in that area rather than compromise on the core.
A LOT of the beer was already going up on the racking – with beer deliveries coming in from several breweries during the hour or so I was there! There still seemed a lot to do – with lots to set-up, and the bottled beer fridges to be filled, the cider to be put out, the wine bar to be set-up…. but I’m sure it will be a hive of activity from now until the trade session Tuesday afternoon. Us public are let in at 5.30pm Tuesday 21st (just 3 more days…) – and I’ll be there within a few mins of the doors opening!
I’ve added more photo’s into my 2012 Festival Gallery, and I’ll be adding more as the days go by – as long as I can keep my camera and wits about me as the beers are knocked back!
From what I’ve seen, it’s shaping up to be the best festival yet – with a welcome return to the ‘old’ set-up, so we can return to walking round and round, and getting to the ciders (if that’s your thing) from the music tent without having to walk the length of the festival!
If you are planning on visiting the festival this year (and the weather will be great, and that’s a Krispy promise!), if you have a ‘smartphone’ or a fancy device thingy that can get the interweb, you may want to check out my special Beer Festival mobile app – it’s free, advert free, and created to help you find (and score/vote on) beers! Every draught beer, and every cider and perry are listed, by type/strength/brewery, and there is also other general info, like the bands and the time they are on.