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Raise Your Glasses: The Celtic Beer Festival

A rather well know Danish brewer don’t do beer festivals but if they did, then St Austell Brewery’s annual Celtic Beer Festival is probably one of the best in the world.

0845 241 1122
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63 Trevarthian Rd
PL25 4BY
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Each year the brewery throws
open its’ doors and invites revelers from across the land to their old wine
cellars and vaults. The dress code is casual but practical (be prepared for a
splattering of ales to dot your attire) and for this party you don’t even have
to BYO (bring your own for the drinking uninitiated) as it’s already there just
waiting to be poured. With capacity reached barely hours after opening I felt
slightly honoured to have had my name included on the party list for this bash.
Yet still people queued, eager to sample the party atmosphere and sample all
the delights that come once inside. For some this was Christmas coming early
whilst for others it was more akin to a Willy Wonka Factory for adults,
complete with an aptly titled chocolate stout on offer which was proving a firm
favourite amongst the gathering.

There was no denying the bewildering array of tipples on offer, with something
to accommodate all taste buds and degrees of merriness. The problem lay in
deciding which ones would make it into our souvenir pint glasses. Should we go
for the tried and tested formula of sticking to familiar safe favourites or opt
for simply selecting whichever barrel was in direct eye line? Well, my self-appointed
guinea pig for the day was under an alternative set of instructions as we
settled down to make an adventure of the sampling. With all the drinks numbered
across three bars we opted for the ‘Countdown method’ of selecting – three from
the top, middle and bottom to pass out judgment on.

Once this had been
completed and complimented by some fine (and very hot) Cornish pasties it was
onto round two and the National Lottery of drinking by simply selecting six
numbers at random (no repeats were permitted no matter how much we may have
liked previous samples) and passing our verdicts. The outcome was naturally not
easy to recall but we did come to a conclusion that there were several samples
which we would indeed look for in the future in our local pubs.

And that’s what this
sort of event is all about, letting your taste buds go wild and wetting your
whistle to a concoction of fine ales and beers all under one roof. There are
the familiar and not so familiar names adorning the casks but listen carefully
to any ale connoisseur and there is an education to appreciating the finest ale
on offer. We simply giggled at the amusing collection of bizarre names and
wondered just how they got some of them, simple minds and all.

Once the bottom of your glass was in sight there was much more to sample than
simply what was behind the bar. An array of bands provided the soundtrack to
the festival with the obligatory sing-a-longs creating a rousing affair as
glasses (and the occasional pasty) were raised aloft. Not the Beatles brought
the biggest crowd interaction as Hey Jude echoed around the cellar whilst there
is something endearing about joining a crowd of merry men belting out Delilah
in between the performances. What more could you ask for with fine ales, fresh
local produce and a live music to keep you on your jolly way.

Glasses should ultimately be raised and a toast made to the real benefactors of
this event, St Austell Brewery’s Charitable Trust. With more than £16,000
raised this was the highest amount in the festival’s history and certainly was
not an unlucky 13th year of staging the event.

Just in case you are wondering, then my personal award for favourite tipple
goes to “Wha‘ll I‘be (Hoppy Jon). Well it would be rude not to try my namesake
after all! Here’s to the 2012 Celtic Beer Festival, now whose round is it?

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