22 July 2011 (Friday) - Canterbury Beer Festival

Up with the lark, and after a spot of “first brekkie” the clans started gathering: five of us set off to the Works café for a plate of “second brekkie” where we met three more of our number. Some of us were rather abstemious; opting for the bacon sarnie. Others were a tad more adventurous opting for the standard breakfast. I went for the “absolutely everything there is” option. A tad greedy, perhaps, but it stopped me being hungry for the rest of the day.
Once suitable replete, and narrowly avoiding getting mown down by passing cars, we made our way to the train station where we met more of our number. Through a process involving far more luck than judgement we soon found ourselves on the 11.03 to Canterbury and we spent a pleasant twenty minutes on the train talking utter rubbish to each other. Such is life.

Once at Canterbury we had a novel break with tradition. Usually we walk up to the bus station and queue up for the complimentary bus to the beer festival. This has the advantage of free transport, but has the disadvantage of having to travel squashed into a scrum with the Great Unwashed, and that you arrive at the festival once all the seating has been bagged by others of the Great Unwashed.
So today, having arrived at the train station we piled into taxis to get us to the festival ahead of the crowd. We weren’t alone in having this plan, but we managed to get a lot further up the queue than we had in previous years, and so we were able to bag a twelve-seater table to ourselves. And with the arrival of the contingents from the Medway Towns and “Posh Kent” we filled this table.

We got our glasses and beer tokens and we read the beer list. I was intrigued to read the request on the beer list that people were asked to use the toilets sensibly. One can only wonder what shenanigans have been going on out there in previous years.
And so to the beer – I had eight:

  • Dartford Wobbler
  • Cocky Blonde
  • Midshipman Dark Mild
  • Renaissance Ruby Mild
  • Black Pearl Oyster Stout
  • Saison Wheat Beer
  • Samphire Ale
  • Bramlings Ale

The last two were from the Abigale brewery: a new brewery based in Ashford. I didn’t realise the place existed.

It would have been good to have stayed at the festival longer, but the afternoon session kicked out at 4pm, and bearing in mind how many people were there we decided to be sure of a seat on the complimentary bus back to Canterbury. (I have no problems taking the bus back after the festival)
Having listened to the Rear Admiral quibbling about the price of a public toilet and having bought a couple of sexy hats we settled down on a table outside an obscure pub in an even more obscure lane. Equipped with a pint of Hengist (from the Wantsum brewery) we had a quick game of cards.

And then we had a temporary parting of the ways – there were those who were continuing drinking, and there were those of us of a more pious disposition who were going to Evensong. For all that I am an Apathetic Agnostic, it don’t hurt to periodically suck up to God. And the music’s actually quite good. And my falling asleep was probably more to do with my natural piety than the amount of beer that I’d guzzled.
Having Evensonged we then collected one of the choristers and set off to the Dolphin where we met up with the less Godly of our party. We settled into the garden and found ourselves sharing a table with a young French couple who were playing scrabble. Scrabble in English. So we joined in with them, and spent a pleasant hour drinking Doombar and Gadds No.5 whilst trying to pretend that “qpurby” is actually an English word...

As always, a photographic record of the day was taken. History doesn’t record itself, you know….

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