My other half has always had a penchant for festival-going. Both beer festivals and music festivals. He’s a die hard Glastonbury/Latitude/Reading ‘n’ Leeds man with a few regional ones thrown in. This weekend he’s at Kendal Calling in the Lake District with his mates to see the likes of Stereophonics, Manic Street Preachers and the Happy Mondays.He is very OCD about what he packs: he has a dedicated spreadsheet detailing everything he needs to take. Like a military operation, this all needs to be checked, double checked, and ticked off before he sets off. Then he’ll return on Monday smelling like a tramp, looking like he’s slept in a ditch for three days and be grouchy as hell.
Myself? I stopped going with him to Festivals a few years back. The lumpy ground beneath the tent, the 4am trek to the overflowing loos, and the three hour sheer hell trying to drive out of the site on the last day eventually over shadowed my delight at bouncing around with other festival goers. This weekend I will remain at the family homestead with the Big Dog, a big pile of as yet unread books and hotly anticipated DVDs, and read the multitude of increasingly random and rambling texts from him, all tagged with indecipherable e-mojis.
One thing which has changed at Festivals over the last few years has been the beer. Once the by-word for warm, tasteless lager in plastic bottles, many festivals have cottoned on to the fact that attendees actually want a beer that tastes of something, isn’t chilled to extinction, and is interesting. So the beer offering has got better and better as Festivals have evolved. The real ale tent, once the gathering ground for the oldies, geeks and folk singers, has now become THE place to be.
I suppose it’s followed the path of food at Festivals. Where once we would have put up with the ropey burger and pie vans, we are now spoilt by BBQ pulled meats, artisan pizza, dim sum and lobster rolls. It’s amazing what consumer demand can do.
Equipment, technology and design has now enabled Festivals to offer good quality real ale to thousands of people who might not have tried this glorious drink in their local pub. Okay, I’ll concede it’s not the perfect serve (plastic glasses anyone?) but I hope you’re with me on this one that if your first experience of real ale is in an environment where you’re having fun, and you’re having a good time, you remember it, right? And when you go home, jaded and exhausted, you want to recreate that experience at the first possible opportunity.
I had a look at the Kendal Calling website to see what real ales were available. I couldn’t see any major sponsor other than the usual lager/spirit culprits with mega buck marketing budgets. It didn’t surprise me. But I do know that my other half will be able to get a myriad of local brews because there’s a real ale tent which features lots of different ales from breweries in the Lake District.
At the risk of seriously annoying all the sponsors who have paid squillions of pounds to get their logo on this particular festival website I’m going to champion Jennings Cumberland Ale. Good, solid British beer from the North West. Herbally aroma, and a lovely apple skin taste which just suits that pulled pork roll down to the ground. It’s only 4% so you can sup it through the day and you’re not going to miss the headline act. It’s golden, a sunny sessionable ale, but it’s also heartening, so if you’re sat in your tent in a downpour it will see you through the dark times.