Essex University Beer Festival

Saturday 12th December, 2009

In the early hours of Saturday I was rudely awakened by my alarm clock making a ridiculously loud noise in close proximity to my ear. This pleased Mark no end and put him in an even worse mood than normal!! ... I dragged myself out from under the cosy duvet and managed to stumble about the place getting ready to leave for the first ever beer festival held by the University of Essex.

We had agreed a meeting time after a few beers the previous night and I wanted to make sure that I had remembered correctly. A phone call to Martin confirmed that we were meeting at 9.30.. and much to my amusment I also discoverd that Andy had already turned up thinking it was a 9 o'clock start. DOH. Not quite so amusingly, I also remembered that I had decided it would be a good idea for us all to WALK to the university.
So come 9.45 (I am always late) we set off ... as we walked past Andy's house we bumped into his cat, who then proceeded to follow us half way to Martins house, each time we turned round, there he was there running after us.
We met Martin and unfortunatly lots of containers of stuff to carry! Andy and I instantly went for buckets of light weight t-towls and taps and Martin was left with the heavy bag. Well volunteered that man!

We picked up a Richard on our way to the University and successfully arrived without slipping down a very slippery - and I am going to say that again, for effect - a very slippery steep hill covered in wet leaves and mud! Once we got to the 'top bar' we discovered it was shut ... oh dear ... We got hold of Kishor from the student union, who brought with him a Matt (another member of our team).

Whilst I decided to make a tactical move by going to get the tea and coffee's, the men were joined by Graham and very very carefully shifted the barrels from down stairs onto the lift, and then very carefully onto the bar and tapped them. I watched them sweat whilst I put up a few posters and some advertising bits for our winter festival on the tables and labelled the beers :)
It was tight, but all was done in time for the first customers.

The beers included;-

Mersea Island Brewery Yo Boy 3.8% abv
Red Fox Bitter 3.8% abv
Saffron Brewery Saffron Blonde 4.3% abv
Saffron Brewery Silent Night 5.2% abv
Nethergate Brewery Umbal Magna 5.0% abv
Nethergate Brewery Essex Beast 6.2% abv

Westons Old Rosie 7.3% abv
Westons Bounds Brand 4.8% abv

Beers were priced at £2.50

I put on my designer protective head gear, otherwise described as a 'silly blue santa hat'. And then the fun began.
The weather had turned from bright and sunny to miserable and rainy and we were hoping this would not put people off. Especially as the rugby team, whom we were hoping would drink a vast amount of beer, had at the last minute, had their fixture moved to an away game. Still we had the hockey team, who were happily collecting all their glasses so they could keep track of how much they had drunk.
We also had some guys sitting in the corner who knew a huge amount about decent beer which was great. They also did a couple of great diagrams. (please see pics).

Things started of slowly but as the evening went on and certain people who should have gone home a couple of hours ago, were still enjoying themselves behind the bar, we were joined by Al, in case anyone wanted to join CAMRA, Mark and Simon from the Grenny. Gradually the 'top bar' started filling out.
The happy hour saw a rush at the bar and the horse racing combined with the introduction of Essex Beast saw yet more drinks ordered at the bar. The cider was going quickly with the Essex Beast and Saffron Blonde not far behind.

At the point of the 2nd hour being announced I had to sadly leave as I had Bob Russell to watch at the Arts Centre in 'just a minute'. Al kindly walked me to the bus stop as I would have got lost.

From that point I can't tell you much more, apart from I know that the guys were still there a long time after me, Kishor after drinking lots of beer turned to the cider, crisp man (bar supervisor) continued working hard, Graham was silly and wanted to walk home in the dark with a bad foot and Martin and Andy went to the pub afterwards (no surprise there).

Although there some beer was left over, I like to think it went well. Its great to see younger people getting more involved in real ale. And hopefully we will be meeting some of the students again on our CAMRA trips.

The beer festival was held by the University and CAMRA were just helping out, but great thanks goes to everyone who assisted both from CAMRA and the uni, especially Martin and Nethergates who did a lot of the work.

Hope to see you all at our next event.