Published: Friday, 23 September 2016 11:30
No major travelling this time, which meant a nice lie-in before the day ahead. I headed straight for the Flying Scotsman Tap on Silver Street as that's where the CAMRA bar was, along with a lot of the CAMRA team.
I had myself a half of Ossett Brewery 'Vivienne May' (I think they're getting beer names from Eddie Stobarts trucks) to start the day, a quite pleasant tang to it but I know that I can't stay with one brew, or even brewer, as there are so many ales in the entire beer festival that I'll be lucky to sample a quarter of them over three days. I popped along to the Doncaster Tourist Information office to drop off some programmes and maps as they've had a lot of enquiries about the beer festival. We managed to get a mention on almost all the local radio stations and there was a nice feature on the Free Press website too.
From there I popped into Cask Corner where I had Thornbridge 'Lumford' followed by Roosters 'Pilsnear'. Both were light golden ales and I could have drunk either all day long. Bob Kiddle, the chairman of Doncaster CAMRA called by and had a chat with some of the other visitors. Not far to go for Ballers Sports Bar, my next visit where I was greeted with a bar of no less than 9 hand pumps, plus the one on their main bar. 'Going for it' was the expression that came to mind, while I was there there were a few visitors with beer festival booklets. I went for Tring Brewery's 'Side Pocket For A Toad' which was very much a session beer but lacked flavour to me.
Back to the CAMRA bar and the Steampunk Brewery 'Ginlic', named because it has undertones (without Fergal Sharkey) of Ginger and Liquorice. Not overpowering and another I could have happily had more of. Not to be as I was then round to The Queen Crafthouse & Kitchen, on it's opening day. I had Don Valley 'Hitchcock' and admired the jukebox, proper records and all. It was just being loaded and the index tabs were being inserted. The beer was on form and I was starting to wonder why I was sticking to half pints - then remembered, this is only the first day of three!
Almost time to head home for my tea so I called in the (little) Plough and had Acorn 'Pretty Green', another one with a distinct tang to it and I quite liked it. My final call of the afternoon was the Corner Pin where I had Stancill 'Ginger Pale Ale'. Not a heavy ginger taste my any means and by now I was looking for something with a lot of flavour - so I went home and had my tea.
After a bit of a rest and a couple of cups of tea as well I headed back to town and the Doncaster Brewery Tap, this time I went for Stamps 'Athanum'. Just what I needed to give me the taste for more so I went back to the main CAMRA bar. I have been waiting to have Jolly Boys 'Golden best' for a while, having sampled their test brews at Barnsley beer festival earlier in the year where I met the brewers. The info warned it was cloudy but OK and it's meant to be cloudy as Jolly Boys do not add finings to the beer, the stuff that makes it clear. The want to be known as Vegan brewers, so I was told.
From there I went back to the Queen and had the Don Valley 'Ribblehead', another new brewery launching at this beer festival. Fatigue was setting in by now so I started to head home, but went back into Cask Corner for my last of the evening as Cev's quiz night was on, not that I take part, I just go to watch the puzzled faces. It was a half of Dukeries 'Farmers Branch' that brought my day of drinking to an end and I went back home.
I must be getting old as another day of drinking and visiting pubs has worn me out. Starting once again with the main CAMRA bar I had Idle Valley 'Summer Breeze' as the weather was threatening to be nice again. From there to the Marketplace Alehouse & Deli where I had Shiney Brewery 'Happy People'. I had a chat with some people outside about the beer festival itself.
Then to a pub I admit I've not been to for a while as it's not one I pass very often, the White Swan on Frenchgate. I seem to recall having Black Sheep last time and that was still on but I wasn't there for a beer I can get almost anytime so I went for Lincolnshire Brewing Co '1215' and then Lincoln Green 'Finals Countdown'. May as well make the trip worthwhile I thought. If you have not read my previous posts, I have a bad chest and can't walk very far in one go. On this weekend I was thankful for lifts and taxis between pubs, despite the programme and map making them all look so close together.
From there I dropped by the (little) Plough again where I had the Vale 'Pale Ale' and met up with some of the other CAMRA members having a wander round. May aim was to visit every pub taking part and I had one left to go as I headed homewards for my tea. The Leopard was my final target and I had the Whitby IPA followed by Whitby 'Smugglers Gold'. Yes!, all venue's visited but not quite time for the wife to pick me up so I popped round to the Corner Pin and had the Geeves 'Renaissance' red ale then Three Castles 'Vale Ale'.
I had some things to sort out at home so was a bit later than anticipated going back out. I went back to The Leopard and started there on Whitby 'Abbey Wharfe' and from there to the CAMRA bar for a drop of Chin Chin 'Vanishing Point'. The CAMRA bar was on the stage at the Flying Scotsman and it seems nobody knew there was going to be a band on, they had set up in the opposite corner and I'm not one for loud music at a beer festival so I drank up and left.
I was supposed to be heading to the Doncaster Brewery Tap but had reports that it was packed out. My poor lungs cannot cope with 19th hand air and I've had to go stand outside that particular venue in the past as I simply cannot breathe when it is really busy. Someone else then told me just how busy it was and I thought better of it. I'll go there in the daytime when I hope it's a bit quieter.
It seems that some of the CAMRA team has gone to Ballers Sports Bar and that's where I spent the rest of my evening before getting a taxi home. Some good chat, even though the place was on the quiet side, and some good beer. I had Dukeries 'Heritiage Pale' then Magpie '8 is a wish' followed by Plain 'India Pale Ale' and Milestone 'Boston Bitter'
Should I mention that I've just finished writing this at 2am and day three of the beer festival awaits in a few short hours...
I'm getting old... I didn't even go out until after 2pm as I felt tired from the two days before, but I made the effort and called first at the Doncaster Brewery Tap where I had Tollgate 'Billys Best' followed by Half Moon 'Old Forge Bitter'.
Cask Corner was my next call as I had been told that Saturday was the day for Thornbridge 'Jaipur' and sure enough, it was on the bar so I had some. Anyone who has followed my trail of beers so far will have figured out that I don't usually go for the stronger ones but I made an exception as I've been telling my friend Dave it was coming for weeks and his favoured pub have not been able to get it.
On to the CAMRA bar again and a drop of Tollgate 'Red Storm' as I had a chat with the team there before heading to The Queen and the Brass Castle 'Northern Blonde'. The team from Don Valley brewery were there and I had a chat with them as well as the ladies they had brought with them, all wearing their brewery t-shirts. Big thanks to Katrina for the photo :-)
Starting to make my way back for my tea I called in Ballers Sports Bar and had the Welbeck Abbey 'Henrietta Grande'. Cask Corner again for Roosters 'Eight Eight' then on to The Leopard and a second go at Whitby 'Smugglers Gold' I had on Friday. Not a mistake, I found this to be one of my favourites of the festival.
Food time and the Corner Pin where I took a break, sort of. I seemed to be talking to a lot of people and only worked my way through one drink, the Lytham 'Pilsner Radler'. I didn't think Strawberry and Lime tones would go together, if anything it was more grapefruit than lime.
Finally it was back to the CAMRA bar and Rat Brewery 'Ratatonic' before putting my glass away and cashing in my beer card. It's been a fun but tiring few days and it's not over yet as several venues are keeping their mini beer festivals running on Sunday too. I'll probably pop out for a couple of hours, but not all day. I've a beer card from the Brewery Tap to use up, but guess most of that will be cashed in as I really don't have the stamina to do a lot more...
Overall it's been an interesting concept to have a smaller CAMRA bar and have lots of town centre pubs join in. Most have reported increased footfall and sales, which is good for them. From a CAMRA point of view I don't think it was as successful as hoped. We will see what opinions have been formed and what feedback has been given. Most people I spoke to enjoyed it and it was good to mingle with the hundreds of people carrying their copy of the festival programme with them.