The festival was in full swing, with an ample crowd of people sat at the front of the pub, and dozens more at the rear, occupying the extensive garden. Two women, sat at a nearby table, asked if they could help me. I’d already twigged that the event operated on a token basis – easier for the organisers, as the cash is concentrated in one place, but something of a pain for punters, as you have to guess in advance, how many pints, or halves, you are going to consume.
I had intended to stick with pints, but with a good selection of interesting beers available, all good intentions were quickly, abandoned, and I reverted to my normal beer festival habit, of drinking halves. My excuse was, I could try double the number of beers, but can beer really be tasted by drinking half pints?Charles Dickens famously said that beer cannot be tasted in a sip, and he was right, of course. The Great American Beer Festival with its (in)famous, 1 oz pours, begs to differ, but a twentieth of a pint amounts to not much more than a sip, whereas a half pint equates to ten such thimbles! The majority of the beers were stored in an old oast house, at the side of the pub, which looked as if it may have been a stable block, back in the day. There were 11 in total, dispensed straight from the cask, in true beer festival fashion. For those who prefer vertical drinking and standing at the bar, three more cask ales were available inside the pub.
There were also a couple of semi-permanent, marquee type buildings at the rear of the pub, with a band playing country & western numbers in one of them. I found myself a seat, plus a table at a sheltered spot, outside one of these tents, and made myself comfortable in a position where I could watch the goings on, whilst enjoying a few of the beers. I tried four in total, two of which would have been preferable in pints, but all decent brews in their own way. I also grabbed myself a cheeseburger, because it would have been rude not to have done so!