I spent Saturday evening at a real ale festival in Wedmore, Somerset, former home of Gary Glitter. It’s apparently Somerset’s biggest beer festival and was unlike any other I’ve been to, in a good way.
Wedmore is in the middle of nowhere with a population of fewer than 4000 people, so a three day beer festival is a big deal, and pretty much everyone who lives nearby turned up. I didn’t see one bearded bloke with a notebook, just lots of locals out to have fun and get drunk.
That meant that the atmosphere was genuinely lively. The little village hall was incredibly crowded, which was annoying until we’d had two pints, when it suddenly felt like the cosiest, friendliest place on Earth.
There was loud music; dancing; and there were even some people on the pull. Successfully on the pull. At a beer festival. You don’t see much of that at the Great British Beer Festival, do you? Or is there a special area for it…?
What about the beer? Well, that was great too. There were some 50 beers on offer and, it being Somerset, loads of decent cider.
I had St Austell Black Prince (a mild); something called Trade Winds that, disappointingly, wasn’t the Cairngorm beer of the same name I tried at the Pembury Tavern beer festival; Wentworth oatmeal stout (fantastically fulsome and smoky, if not complex); and a “Black as yer ‘at”. Is that a racial epithet? Hope not.
My Dad had a pint of Thwaites Lancaster Bomber that was mostly sediment but, as the proceeds of the event were going to charity, he gallantly poured it away rather than cause a big fuss at the very busy bar.
He also had something called Dr Hexter’s Healer which was a massively malty strong ale with no medicinal properties whatsoever….
I will be back there next year, for sure.