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Doing my talk on beer and travel, no cabbages were thrown
Weekender, Peakender, disturbing the fusty force that normally descends on a weekend, trains and buses and footslogging brings me in at Thornbridge Hall, come Friday evening. Tents beneath trees, an amiable army bivouacked, the aromatics of Thai, pizza and Mexican food emerging from a trio of food carts, keg taps and pump handles letting loose a torrent of beers: let’s see now, Tilquin gueuze is the perfect late morning beer, to see what it has to say to you; Tzara is the lunchtime beer, a sparkling, light, sunlit riff on a Kolsch, while as the day progresses it’s good to genuflect with Del Borgo’s Genziana; in the meantime tip a nod to the hop bursting happiness of St Erik’s IPA, clasp a glass of the wonderfully assertive Tart and perhaps end the day with a Jaipur X (or two). There were lots more beers of course but I wasn’t making notes. This is more than a festival with beer; it was about people, it was about families enjoying themselves (lots of kids running about, which was great); it is about friends getting together and traversing their lives over some great beers (some good friends of mine were there while new ones were made); it’s also about a celebration of a brewery that I have been visiting and kept in touch with since I organised a British Guild of Beer Writers trip there in 2005 (my note book had the sentence ‘they’ve got an Italian brewer’, which seemed so outrageous then; there was also a brewer from Scotland there, wonder what happened to him?). As the format of the beer festival changes, redefines itself, becomes more inclusive, becomes more open, Peakender is another direction for the beer festival to go. There was music, physical activities, suggestions of walks in the surrounding countryside, some football training for kids, talks (one of which I gave), films and a general sense of happiness and joy. I’ll be back next year (note to sell: take an air-bed for the tent rather than a bone-bruising carrier mat).