Better late than never I suppose. You’ll have to excuse me for the lateness of this report – it has been crazy busy in the beer world of late. There’s been festivals, beer tastings, tap takeovers, and bank holiday craziness. But here I am. Back to report to you what went on at the Chester Charity Beer Festival – one of the ones to watch every year.
It’s super hard to have an annual event for 30 years and keep surprising and innovating every year. I’ve been throwing a small little beery bash for 3 years and have to admit I’ve fallen into a comfortable rhythm already. Repetition might be mother of learning but it kills creativity. And this year I feel the beer festival was upping their game in many ways.
I’mma be honest, my favourite thing was that the marquee was open. It might sounds like a very small thing but man, did it open the space up. There was more room to move around and because of that, there were less queues to anywhere, and less queues always means more beer. Plus, the open back meant there were more options for food. Hickory’s has dominated the Charity Beer Festival food scene as long as I can remember (which, I’ll admit, isn’t that long, maybe last Saturday) but the concept of a little street food court at the open back was pure genius.
I may say this mostly because The Big Dub of Love produced the best pots of deliciousness I have ever encountered. Imagine it: Rice. Veggies. Spices. Plus fried halloumi and steak? Come on! I felt a little cheeky when I told them I couldn’t decide between the halloumi and steak pots but lucky they indulged my wildest beer munch dreams. If I ever go to a festival and see their truck there again, you can betcha I’m parking my behind right there next to it so I’ll have a constant supply of their delicious food.
But what about the beer then? I mean, I am supposed to talk about the beer, right? Okay, I’ll say it. I enjoyed it all. I thought this year the beer choices were again better than last year (especially on the keg side – love me some Chapter Brewing, Cloudwater and Magic Rock) and there were a lot of contemporary cask ales available. I mean, I acknowledge the fact that they’re not cooled, and that it’s sometimes like re-inventing the wheel when you’re trying to up your game annually for 30 years when it comes to cask, but I enjoyed the beers.
And I liked the Gin Tent. I don’t know why. I just thought it was pretty cool addition to the overall festival-ness. I suppose it maybe made it feel more like a festival, instead of just a beer festival. Not that there’s anything wrong with being solely a beer festival, but if your aim to collect as much money for charity as possible and to ensure everyone enjoys themselves, you gotta broaden your horizons. This year I felt like they organisers have gone above and beyond to make this an as accessible festival as possible, and that’s awesome.
You can’t lie in the fire for 30 years and expect to be one of the top dogs in the Beer Festival Scene. And from what I have witnessed throughout the years I have attended, Chester Charity Beer Festival has continued to grow, to be more inclusive and to constantly reinvent itself. And for that, it gets all the thumbs up from me.