View Full Version : Student Brewer - Hay Festival Halfway

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02-06-2011, 18:32
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We're currently halfway through the world famous Hay Festival, and trade has been unbelievably good. Now an event that saturates the town with up to 200 000 people in 10 days is bound to mean trade is good. But as our 4th festival, this has been the best by far.

Firstly, the kitchen. The new head chef walked out a week before the festival started, saying that he'd been offered more money somewhere else. So a quickly written festival menu was put together, with the emphasis being on speed of service, with an evening restaurant menu that focused on classic fine dining. At times in previous years the waiting time may have reached over an hour for food. This year, although I can't say I timed every meal, I feel comfortable saying 95% of the food served was within 25 minutes. Serving just short of 300 meals a day, I don't think that's bad going.

The bar is normally busy and more so over the festival, but the success story on it this year (so far) has been the cask sales. I've heard of 18s running dry quickly at beer festivals, especially when the awards are put up. I thought I'd be clever this year, as I was running the kitchen as well as the bar, and bought some guest ales in 18s to give the 9s time to settle and condition. Finding out that an 18 of Wye Valley's HPA went in just under 4 hours wasn't quite what I was expecting!

Sadly the till died on Saturday, so I don't know how many pints of ale we sold. The replacement till (a spare borrowed from another outlet in town) then died on the Sunday. But on Monday morning the empty storage space was full, and the vast majority of it casks.

With the end of half term weekend coming up, I'm looking forward to seeing how much more we can push out. It's one hell of a buzz to see empties coming out of the cellar that rapidly, and seeing that look of slight confusion on customer's faces when they were sure the last time they came to the bar 4 of the 6 ales where different.

Similarly we've had a few confused customers over the weekend. 2 of my favourites where 'what's the difference between the Lamb and the Salmon' and 2 customers discussing what to have to eat at the bar:

'What's in a suet pudding?'

We've also had an ale and cheese pairing event, live jazz on the lawn, and a completely packed out Open Mic session in the marquee out back. Hopefully I'll find time to talk more about those - there are some very exciting events coming up.


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