Tours, tipples and tutored tastings celebrate SIBA’s return to town
The hectic weekend that is the annual SIBA Champions Beer Festival was made all the more varied and fun packed in 2012 with Castle Rock Brewery tours, a tutored beer tasting for women, and the introduction of the ‘golden oldies’, a bar serving the best from years gone by.
For the fourth year running, Castle Rock Canalhouse bar hosted the SIBA (the Society of Independent Brewers) event where the country’s 56 best ales, selected in regional heats, are judged before being made available for beer lovers across the UK to enjoy the strengths, tastes and styles for themselves.
Canalhouse manager, Yvette Storey, was assisted by managers and staff from across the Castle Rock estate with others, including Nottingham CAMRA’s Ray Kirby, volunteering to lend a hand. “This was undoubtedly our best weekend ever,” says Yvette. “By the close of business on Saturday evening, there were only two gallons of SIBA competition ale left from the 56 nine gallon casks set up only a few days earlier. It’s a complement to the knowledge of the hundreds of visitors that new tastes and unusual names were just as popular as the better known beers.”
For many festival visitors, the day began with one of seven oversubscribed tours of Castle Rock Brewery, led by Charlie Blomeley, Tim Pollard, head brewer, Adrian Redgrove, and other members of the Castle Rock team. The first tour, a tutored tasting for ladies, saw 22 affable women enjoying a selected range from the SIBA beer competition with advice on the beer’s character and its suitability when dining on fine food. One group, when asked “What is it?”; replied “Lovely” instead of the expected, “It’s Fellowship Porter from the Redemption Brewery in Tottenham.”
Around 150 people toured Castle Rock Brewery before joining other real ale fans, Nottingham Forest and Watford football supporters, the CAMRA Members’ Investment Club, England rugby match viewers, and passers-by to complete the kind of line up that makes a good pub great.