5,000 pints downed at beer festival

By Dave Barry

About 5,000 pints were sunk at the second annual beer and cider festival at the old parcels office at Scarborough railway station.

“We sold 4,200 pints of beer and 780 pints of cider”, says organiser Stewart Campbell of the town branch of Camra - the Campaign for Real Ale.

At the close of play, just 140 pints remained unsold as nearly all 66 casks had been drained dry over three days.

The venue, which has a fire limit of 400 people, was full much of the time. “We nearly had to close the doors on the Friday”, says Stewart.

Visitor numbers were 309 on the Thursday, 606 on the Friday and 529 on the Saturday - not all at the same time of course.

The numbers might have been higher if the festival hadn’t clashed with one at Wold Top Brewery. This was accidental and won’t happen next year, Stewart promises.

“We sold £1,000 worth of beer vouchers in the first three hours”, said Mike Webdale of Camra on the Thursday evening.

The weather must have helped. It was positively balmy compared to last year’s shiveringly low temperatures.

The beer and cider came from near and far; from as far north as the Orkneys and as far south as Cornwall. And as near as the North Riding and Scarborough Brewery in town, Wold Top near Hunmanby, Brass Castle in Malton and Whitby Brewery.

The festival programme had just over five pages of descriptions. Among the offerings was a cider made with pomegranate and rose petals and a beer-salted caramel coffee stout.

The first beers to sell out, at more or less the same time, were Milestone’s Flying Banana and North Riding’s Tiramisu porter. Another North Riding brew, a chocolate orange porter, sold out next.

The Tiramisu porter was voted beer of the festival. The three joint runners-up were Brass Castle’s hop-free I am Gruit, Wold Top’s amber Worts n Ale and Campervan’s coconut stout Mutiny on the Bounty.

The cider of the festival was Waulkmill’s Wallace 1305, from the Scottish borders (a late addition, not listed in the programme). The runner-up was a Galtres sweet by Orchards of Husthwaite.

Camra presented the Stumble Inn with two awards for selling and promoting cider: cider pub of the year at regional level and a finalist at national level. The Valley won the national award a few years ago.

Sarah Newson, a former cider maker who organises a national cider and perry competition, travelled from her home near Skipton to make the presentation.

Theakstons of Masham arranged a demonstration of barrel-making by Jonathan Manby, one of only three full-time coopers in the country, and an apprentice, using old traditional hand tools.

“We think it’s the first time in the country that someone has made a barrel at a beer festival”, said Mike. “It’s called raising the barrel”.

£277.50 was raised for the Yorkshire Air Ambulance from deposits on glasses and unused beer vouchers, which people handed in when they left. The Rotary Club of Scarborough Cavaliers ran a tombola.

“The festival was very successful, with lots of positive feedback”, says Stewart. “Everybody’s looking forward to next year’s, which we will start planning in March.

“We are indebted to our 44 volunteers”, Stewart added. “Without their invaluable help, the festival wouldn’t have been able to go ahead”.

The festival featured music by Fuzz Junkies, Jesse Hutchinson, the Woolgatherers, Frankie Dixon and Dirty Windows, all battling with the cavernous room’s difficult acoustics; and displays of work by some of the artists who use the old parcels office as a studio.