Festive fun was had to round off the year at the Malt Shovel in Ashby.
The evening involved much celebratory beer drinking and swapping home-brewed Christmas presents plus a quiz, raffle
There were many excellent beers on offer including a Christmas special,
Winter's T'Ale by Spire Brewery, Chesterfield at 6.4% which we were lucky enough to try in its early stages
of development on our brewery visit earlier in the year.
Many thanks to the staff at the Malt Shovel for their excellent hospitality.
Weekend Trip to Bruges
A group of 12 CAMRA members and friends recently visited Bruges for a weekend visit,
taking in the 2nd Bruges Beer Festival held in the heart of the city.
Housed in the buildings attached to the Belfry, a famous Bruges landmark,
over 50 Belgian brewers booked stalls at the festival to present their own products.
Ranging form lambic and fruit beers at a modest 3.5 - 4% ABV, through blonde and dubbel beers at 5 - 8%
and up to the stronger tripels and special Christmas brews at 9 - 12%, there were beers for every taste.
All the beers were kept in excellent condition, and were sold in small glasses marked at 15 cl,
which was sensible considering some of the strengths.
A very enjoyable event which we supplemented with visits to a few Belgian bars and some souvenir shopping.
Roll on next year!
Nottingham Beer Festival
On Saturday 11th October, members of Scunthorpe CAMRA made their way to Nottingham for their beer festival.
This was held for the first time within Nottingham Castle itself, as opposed to previous years held at the Victoria Leisure Centre.
The venue itself was impressive, with a huge marquee having been set up in the top part of the grounds.
Smaller marquees were also set in the lower grounds near to the bandstand where the live entertainment was going on.
Everyone entering the castle was given a wristband so they were free to wander around the grounds between the tents.
Wristbands were to distinguish those there for the festival, as opposed to the general public just there to visit
the castle and grounds. No wristband, no drinks!
The festival boasted over 500 ales plus many ciders, perries and wines.
The organisers had promised at least 100 new beers to be put on especially for the Saturday crowd.
There was also several food stalls, featuring such fare as cheeses, olives, pork pies, cockles mussels and oysters,
which I am told went down a treat with the stouts!
There was an enormous queue to get in when we got there at 12.30pm,
and it never seemed to get any smaller as the day wore on;
in fact the evening queues stretched way into town and didn't dwindle even as it started to rain and drizzle.
The festival was obviously very popular!
All the beers we tried were of an excellent quality, and there was indeed a huge array to choose from.
It was the same with the ciders - in the main tent all the ciders, perrys and wines had gone by 7pm!
At any time you could take your drink outside the tents and enjoy the fresh air
(because it did get a bit hot in the marquee), and the views from the castle.
An excellent festival, well organised, and well worth going to next year if you missed it this year,
especially if it's held in the same venue.
Malt Shovel Cider Social
A cider social was held at the Malt Shovel on Friday 17th October.
This was to recognise CAMRA's cider month of October and the Malt Shovel
normally has at least 4 ciders on draught plus bottled ciders as well.
Recently the local CAMRA branch visited one of our craft brewers,
the Spire Brewery of Chesterfield.
The brainchild of Scot David McLaren, a former guardsman, home-brewer
and secondary school music teacher, the brewery is housed in two units on an
industrial estate in Staveley. One unit contains the brewing vessels and conditioning tanks,
the other is a work in progress currently used as a hospitality area with a bar, an office
and for storage. An upper level is about to be converted into a bottling plant.
For a relatively modest outlay we were treated to a brewery tour, a buffet and sampling
of four draught Spire beers, one of which was Winters T'Ale (6.4% ABV), a brand new
winter brew which we were the first customers to taste.
There are no frills at present as David and staff continue to build up the brewery's
reputation for fine ales and to increase capacity. It is hard work as they brew on their
10-barrel plant 3-4 times a week and regularly work 12 hour days. They have an impressive
range of nine regular cask ales from a Whiter Shade of Pale at 4% ABV through to the spicy
Sgt. Pepper Stout (5.5%) and heavyweight Britannia Cream Ale at 6.4%, plus a great range of
seasonal and special ales.
It is David's avowed intention to brew only from malted grain, hops, yeast and water
with no additives, and their beers benefit from this adherence to purity and quality.
And it seems to be working! They opened their first pub in nearby Tupton in August last year,
and this has been so successful that they plan to open a second pub in Chesterfield itself,
in conjunction with Everards Brewery. This will offer an amazing sixteen handpulled real ales
and four real ciders (we made a mental note to return when this opens).
It was great to be able to chat about real ale with David and brewery worker Jim,
while sampling the excellent Spire beers. Their admirable dedication to producing quality
real ales for people to enjoy under the most difficult of trading conditions was actually
quite inspiring, and as we wended our way home at the end of the afternoon we thanked them
for their excellent hospitality and wished them continued success.
Without real enthusiasts like David and Jim, we would not have such a vibrant real ale scene
in the UK, and it is to their enormous credit, and many more like them, that there are now about
550 craft brewers, more per head than any other country.
The Branch recently enjoyed a trip to Sunfest at The Rising Sun
in Sheffield having a marvellous time as seen below:
The people in the attached photograph were recently spotted behaving rather badly
at a beer festival in Sheffield.
Operating under the self-styled moniker of "The Moonshine Boys".
South Yorkshire LVA has issued a warning that they should not be approached as they are known
to be DANGEROUS-ly thirsty, and may try to convince you that it's your round.
If rebuffed they have been known to burst into song with an out-of-tune, acappella version of
"The Boys are Back in Town", or some other hoary old rock number, only familiar to persons of
an advancing age. This is in breach of "The Busking and One-Man Band Outdoor Performance Act 1822"
which we view as a serious offence.
Our latest information is that they may be planning
to visit other beer festivals in the area.
Our eagle-eyed officials will be on the lookout
for them in order to maintain expected standards of public behaviour and decency.
Our advice is not to panic if you should meet them. Buy them a pint of Abbeydale or Roosters
beer and send them on their way. It usually works for us!
Trent Bank Bike Crawl
On a Sunday in June, the cycling chapter of Scunthorpe & District CAMRA
gathered for a pub crawl by bike along the Trent Bank and beyond.
We visited 5 pubs in total and all the beers
sampled on the 17 mile route were of a high consistency.
At the Jenny Wren, Susworth
Despite the windy conditions, we all agreed it had been a very enjoyable
day out. We made a pledge to do it all over again, and made our (slightly)
weary way home.