Monday, October 1, 2012

St. Robert's Beer Festival 2012, Pannal

We recently attended yet another beer festival, this time in the town of Pannal. This festival was different because it was held at a church! The website's description of the church:
St Robert’s is a Church of England parish church serving the community of Pannal and Burn Bridge on the southern edge of Harrogate. It has a lively worshiping community with a strong Junior Church (usually over 70 children from 0-16), a good choir and a wide range of groups and activities.
St. Robert's Church, Pannal

They do indeed have a wide range of activities since this is the third annual St. Robert's Beer Festival. The church is not very large so a lot of the celebration was set up in the surrounding yard. Graveyard, that is!

When we arrived, people were wandering around the graves and open spaces (there's plenty of room for others to be buried) surrounding the church. Maybe their eyes were a little glassy and maybe their steps were a little unsure and maybe they could have been mistaken for zombies freshly risen from the graves. But they were simply revelers in the midst of their revelry. One of the activities during the festival was racing. Ferret racing, that is!

Church, graveyard, and ferret racetrack

The Rockcliffe Ferret Rescue was raising money for their work. In addition to walking ferrets or petting them, they were racing them down these long tubes. The first time I watched, I was amazed. Once they came out the far end, the ferret handler (another job for which parents could donate money so their children could do it) had to turn them around and have them race back to the start. In the second race, Jacob and his friend Zara were handlers.

Lining up

Handing out the ferrets

Turning the first ferret around

As you may guess from the picture above, neither Jacob's nor Zara's ferrets were particularly quick to make it through the tube. Many of the other ferrets had trouble too. Often the critters would turn mid-tube and go back to the start. The kids were given little pads to cover the end of the tube so the ferrets would go the right way. Eventually, Jacob's came in second, though there is no prize for second place at the ferret races.

After the race, the children got to feed the furry fellows.

Jacob is a little nervous about feeding them

Lucy has him eating out of her hand!

Another activity was a tombola, which is a sort of raffle where one draws tickets that are matched to prizes. If the ticket ends in a zero or a five, it's a winner. This tombola was not especially fancy, as many prizes consisted in bottles of soft drinks or squash (juice in American). A very good looking bottle of wine had ticket number 100 (big round numbers are usually bigger prizes). We did not win any prizes.

Lucy at the tombola

At this point, readers may be wondering, "But wasn't there any beer at this beer festival?" Yes, quite a number of local breweries provided the dozen and a half possible choices of beers to drink. Festival admission included a commemorative glass and six tickets for half pints. Here's what I tried in no particular order:
  • Alnwick Brewing Co Amber Ale, 3.8% alcohol content--"Classis [sic] amber ale with strong infusion of fuggles and styrian goldings hops specifically for the North Eastern palate. Good hoppy nose and biscuity body." To me, this was a smooth and coppery ale with nice flavor. It was very drinkable.
  • Mithril Ales 100 Beers on a Dead Man's Chest, 3.8%--"Brewed to celebrate their 100th brew and last Wednesday, 'International Talk Like A Pirate Day.'" This ale was okay but not as special as its thematic name and description would lead one to believe.
  • Rudgate Brewery Ruby Mild, 4.4%--"Recently awarded the gold medal in the mild category at Britain's most prestigious beer festival, CAMRA's 'Great British Beer Festival.'" I liked this a lot, with its rich flavor and little bitterness.
  • Roosters Cogburn, 4.3%--"This beer is a homage to the lead character in True Grit. It's a robust pale ale, with a great length of flavour, loaded with juicy fruit aromas from its combination of American hops." This golden ale might have been a little too fruity for my taste. I'm discovering that I'm not a big citrus fan when it comes to beer. If a strong taste of lemon/tangerine/grapefruit comes through, I don't like it. Oh well.
  • Collingham Ales Journeyman, 3.9%--"Best Bitter brewed with Maris Otter and Munich Malted barley together with Summit and Styrian Golding hops to give a full measure of maltiness and superb hoppy flavour." This bitter was okay but it had more hop than malt (I think) which kept it from being the best it could be.
We had a nice dinner afterward at a local pub, The Harwood. The pub is right over the local rail line. The children loved seeing the occasional train go by. Realizing how late it was, we rushed home for the children's bed time, having enjoyed a fine afternoon out at church drinking beer.

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