We’re in the throes of putting together our first beer festival at the Coach and Horses in Dronfield. Catherine, the itinerant landlady is in planning mode and we’re going through a selection of our favourite ales and lagers as I type. We’re only a small pub. We can seat about 40 people, so we’re going to start small with between four and six handpulls in a little tent outside, as well as our five handpulls in the pub itself.
It’s actually surprising how much organisation goes into something like this. That CAMRA branches can do it again and again is an impressive feat. We need to look at all of those little things. Awnings, shelter for if it rains… this is England after all… live music, hopefully a little bit of blues to get the toes tapping, a bar, a barbeque, staff… the list goes on!
But the part that is most interesting is which beers to choose! I’ll be honest and say that I’ve gone for a beer selection from some of my favourite UK microbreweries. Beers not just chosen for their brilliance, but because the folk that produce them are great. Hopefully, we can pull off a festival that does them all justice! So what will we be able to sup come May 24-25?
First up, we’re going to try and get some great cask ale from Fyne Ales up in the west of Scotland. Situated at the head of Loch Fyne, this is a great brewery and where I cut my teeth as an assistant brewer when I first arrived in the UK. Their beers are well-balanced, great drinking and brewed with water that runs from a burn in the Highland hills above the brewery. I’m hoping to get their delicious Highlander and well-hopped Avalanche.
Next on the wish list is a cask or two from the southern brewing gurus, Dark Star, from Brighton. At Thornbridge we recently had the pleasure of brewing with their head brewer, Mark Tranter, an awesome guy who brews bloody good beers and inspires us to do the same! We brewed an awesome Old Ale together which is currently maturing away to be bottled at a later date. Hopefully we’ll get some of their delicious Hophead down here and maybe some of their Espresso Stout or American Pale Ale. Will wait and see what beers they have available come May as they’re all good!
A little closer to home, we’ve just contacted Marble Brewery in Manchester. Dominic Driscoll, their brewer comes into the Coach and Horses occasionally with Janine Shorrock (brewster at Ashover Brewery). I’ve also visited their pub and tried their great beers. We’re pushing for some of their impressive JP Best, a bitter and hopefully some of their Ginger Beer. These guys brew exciting and interesting beers, so will be cool to get some here!
What beer festival would be complete without some Brewdog beers! I began brewing at Thornbridge with Martin Dickie, the founder and brew-maestro of the Mega-Microbrewery up in Fraserburgh, Aberdeenshire in 2006 and I’m always impressed by his beers. Last year they won a couple of World Beer Cups over in the States, the Oscars of the brewing world and they produce consistently good beers that push the boundaries of British brewing. Fingers crossed for a cask of Punk IPA and maybe even a keg of their new dark lager, Zeitgeist!
We currently have Taddington Brewery’s Moravka, a 5% Pils-style lager that is brewed just a few miles from Thornbridge. You can read what Stonch says about it here. I’ve been lucky enough to try the unfiltered form straight from the lagering tank and was incredibly impressed by its delightful noble hop character. Fingers crossed that we can get a keg of this rare beast for all to try!
Last but not least, will be our Thornbridge beers! Every beer that we’ve brewed in the last two and a half years has been through our handpulls, so needless to say, we guarantee to have a good selection come festival weekend. I’m positive that Jaipur will be there and I’ll let you know closer to the festival what other delectable delights that we’ll have ready!
More details will be posted as they come available. Hope to see you there!