There has been something of a silence on my little blog for the last few days and so apologies to my two loyal readers. I’ve been volunteering all week at Norwich Beer Festival and have had a marvellous time, although I’ve exhausted myself out and required a long recovery period today. This photo is from early last Monday morning, a few hours before the trade session opened. St. Andrew’s is an undeniably grand backdrop to the festival and it’s always a delight to visit these buildings.
This is the rear hall that is Blackfriars just before set-up.
How exciting, I got a badge as someone who was “key staff”, although I was deputy on glasses. Actually, I’m not key anything, but I liked having the badge. Martin Ward was responsible for the wording of the badge which was done on the morning when it was realised they hadn’t done one for me. That shows just how key staff I actually was 🙂
Volunteers get rolls during sessions and then a hot meal during the interval between sessions. The food has been really rather decent all week, provided by the caterers who serve to the public. I’m likely one of the few volunteers who felt the need to take photos of all the food. And indeed, I can’t imagine many took photos of all the beers that they tried either, but I had an Untappd account to update.
My favourite lunches were when there were chips left over at the end.
And one of the rolls during a break. And crisps, which I accumulated quite a pile of during the week as some others didn’t want theirs. Thanks to the friends that came over to say hello in the week, it was much appreciated!
This is how calm it can be between sessions, or at least after the cellar team have rushed around preparing everything.
Julian’s badge and I really should have had the other half of this, but I didn’t think about that in advance…
The first King Charles III coin to come over the counter. I was more excited about this than anyone else.
Being able to have a beer after the festival closes (and indeed when it’s open) is a rather lovely little treat. My Untappd account shows what I was able to try during the festival, but more about this a little later on.
Beer slushies were a thing this year and there were some who didn’t feel that they were very CAMRA. And then the great and good tried them and were actually rather intrigued by them, I took the chance to sample several of them during the week.
Even Julian got in on the act.
The glasses manager was Roy, who is perhaps one of the most unflappable people that I’ve ever met. I only received one criticism during the week from him, which is that I was meandering off to get beer for myself, but neglecting his essential needs. The solution was obvious, when his glass appeared in the designated drinking zone, I would retrieve us both a drink. I became really rather efficient at this.
And there’s Roy after being supplied with a drink.
As a word or ten about the volunteers, they are a marvellous band of people who give up time to ensure that the festival happens. I can take very little credit for anything, I attended one pre-festival meeting, but there’s no end of work required to ensure that the festival takes place. I was at every session this year, but didn’t manage to make take-down, some of the other volunteers have far more energy than I do. I didn’t even stay for the pizza at the end of the festival, that’s how tired I was.
And here’s to the glasses crew!
The Incredible Hulk from Fat Cat.
Looking through my photos of the week, there are far more slushies than I remember getting.
And one with a flake 🙂
This is where I stood for most of the week, at my favourite place at the end of the counter. Roy, who doesn’t need the trinkets of high office, let me have the radio so that I could look more important. This went marvellously other than when I got a message that I kept pressing the button to talk by mistake. I’ve got more respect for TV presenters now who are trying to talk whilst listening to messages in their ear, it can be quite challenging.
And here’s me trying to look important.
The meal on the final day and it was getting sad that it was coming to an end.
And that’s the end, all the customers served and we had to start putting things away.
This is what it looks like five minutes after the final customer has left.
And from the other side.
And my favourite photo of the week. Roy, after I think hearing yet another customer praising me, wrote up a customer service form for me. I’m not sure he intended for me to actually start asking customers to complete it, but this is the result of me doing so. I agreed with the person who called me a “lifesaver” and the other who called me “inspirational”. Who can blame them? Roy was the real star in glasses, always there, never showing any signs of worry and always being supportive when I shouted for him for whatever crisis I encountered that I couldn’t solve. And big thanks to Jen, the previous deputy manager, for her support during the week, and of course all the other volunteers on glasses and beyond, particularly Peter who loyally attends for the entire festival every year, and Paula who we stole from the merchandise stand.
And for my beers of the festival? These are all the ones that I rated 4 and above to on Untappd. And please note that these are mostly tasters and I was selective about what I went for. Incidentally, my top rated beer from Fengate Brewery was also the beer of the festival from the scores given by customers.
Imperial Extra Double Stout from Fengate Brewery
Black Forest Gateau Stout from Play Brew
Limone from Pastore Brewing (in slushie form)
Lost Monster from Loch Lomond Brewery
Sub Rosa from Stealth Brew Co
Raspberry Blueberry Bubblegum Sour from Play Brew (in both normal and slushie form)
Chocolate Mild from Sunbeam Ales (in a wooden barrel)
Bakewell Tart Stout from Bexley Brewery
Rhubarb X Custard from Xtreme Ales
Doggy in the Woods from Brewhouse & Kitchen Worthing
Raspberry Blonde from Little Critters
Nutty Ambassador from Little Critters
Key Lime Pie from Yonder Brewing (in slushie form)
Only Villains Wear Cravats from Three Blind Mice
Melon Drama – Nene Valley and Brewdog Norwich
Audit Ale from Lacons Brewery
Blame it on the Tetons from Rooster’s Brewing Co
19|Gose – Peach Melba from Brew by Numbers
19|Porn Star Martini Gose from Brew by Numbers
Time Bender from Duration Brewing
Jester Brew 26 – Salted Caramel Stout from Goffs Brewery
Peach Tea Pale from Mr Winters
Strawberry Xtreme from Xtreme Ales
Wee Heavy from Moor Beer Company
Red Herring from Green Jack Brewing Company
1872 Porter from Elland Brewery (in wooden barrel)
Bear Hug from Play Brew (in normal and slushie form)
Miles Away from Howling Hops
Waffle & Maple Syrup, Blueberry and Coffee Stout from Play Brew
Sherbert Lemon from Riverhead Brewery
That’s it for 2023 and because of work being done to the Halls in 2024, it’s looking like that we won’t be back until October 2025. Roy and I have a series of ideas for improvements, which primarily us taking responsibility for more things as we feel we’re a marvellous team, but Craig and the other organisers might not be quite so keen. I’ve had a great time, so thanks to all 🙂