Monday 5 October 2015

The Curiously Mechanical Nature

I'm sure it'll be good. I'm SURE it'll be good

There are beer festivals and beer festivals. The more famous type is typified by The Great British Beer Festival or the National Winter Ales Festival. They have it all. Wide ranging beers, decent setup, quality checks and temperature monitoring. And so the punters who go are (mostly) satisfied.

And then there's the other type. The one run by the local pub with the required floorspace.

I have rule about such events - the quality of the beer provided is in inverse proportion to the number on offer. If a place normally has, say, seven cask beers on sale and tries to do a hundred for a Fest, all delivered at different times in differing states of condition, then who can predict the actual beer quality on Opening Night? It's likely at least half of what's on offer is under-conditioned and only on sale because they printed the tasting notes booklet two weeks in advance.

To be fair, if there wasn't a market for this, such things wouldn't happen. But most pubs who do this kind of event know the ticker market is there to support it at least four times a year. Quality is immaterial compared to another biro-scribbled line in the moleskine notebook.

In the end a Local Beer Festival is like this. Go there. Get the tokens and glass. Use them to buy more beer than you would otherwise do, as you know the tokens are non-refundable. Leave after 8 halves wondering if the trip was worth it. A quite mechanical way of engaging with something that's supposed to be fun.

I say look at the list beforehand. If you think the beer is worth sitting with alone in a tent full of strangers, then by all means go. But otherwise, don't bother.


  1. A lot of pub beer festivals give the impression of being put on as a "special event" for the locals, rather than to attract tickers.

    And, if you're on your own, it's like being in the kitchen at parties.

  2. The thing I've never really understood is pubs that do a beer festival and then just have all the same beers from their usual rotation but all at once rather than three or six at a time.

    I guess the problem is that if they said "hey, we've got some extra special beers in just for the festival" it'd mean admitting that the regular beers aren't all that special. Which they often aren't.

  3. I'm always a bit disappointed to stumble across a pub beer fest, tends to increase chances of duff pints in otherwise good pub. Mudge's point about feeling a bit of a Jona Lewie accurate.

    That said, always preferable drinking festival beers in a pub to standing in a tent or in a field.