I couldn’t make it as far as Sheffield. Both financial and logistical blockades put the mockers on that. I will have to wait  until next year before I can see what it’s like at Beer-x. I could make it as far as St. Neots though. Which is a stroke of good luck because it was the same weekend as the St Neots beer and cider festival, known as Booze on the Ouse (the Ouse being the name of the river which flows through St. Neots).

I had already asked all the usual suspects about going to a beer festival, and all of them had politely declined. Either work, otherwise engaged or no money were the main excuses. Undeterred I went by myself, I packed a book to read, thinking I’d be myself.

I arrived in town before the festival had opened and I was ravishingly hungry. The obvious thing to do then was to find the Wetherspoons… which I did. I ordered breakfast and while I waited had my first pint of the day, Salopian Brewery‘s Oracle 4%. This was OK, but nothing to write home about. Breakfast arrived and was quickly demolished. It was then followed by a pint of Hambleton Ale’s Nightmare 5%, a really enjoyable porter.

By this time the festival had opened. The festival takes place in the Priory Centre, just off the main road through the town centre. It’s not the worlds biggest venue, but it just about copes with the number of visitors which arrive. Having got there early enough I was able to grab one of the last seats. I sat down with a half of Elland 1872 6.5%, a rich ported which I was fortunate to try while I was in Manchester at the beginning of the year. I knew how good it was and decided to start with that to make sure I got a sample before it inevitably run out, it being the Champion beer of the National Winter Ales Festival, I’m sure it would go quick.

So, there I was, enjoying my book when I hear “Hi Looke, how are you?” I look up to see Matt, a friend of a friend who I haven’t seen for ages. He explains he is here to meet some friends from his course. Naturally he joined me until his friends arrived and when they did they sat down too. Soon after our newly formed group got talking to a a couple of chaps at the other end of the table we were all at, who’s names I’m at a loss to remember (sorry if your reading this).

The younger of the two really knew his stuff when it came to beer, especially the things from the bottled bar, which I usually don’t care much for. By the end of the day we had many different bottled beers which I usually wouldn’t even entertain, including lambic and gueuze beers. I can see why people say they are an acquired taste in beer, but you know what? I really liked them!

As the afternoon drew on people started to leave, the last train home and things like that were calling. Matt, the chap with all the bottled beer knowledge and myself had one more in The Pig n Falcon, a pub in St Neots, well known for its real ale selection. We then went our separate ways, Matt and myself ending up back at home, where we had a few more at the Flitwick club, before closing time.

All in all, a good day out.