Dolphinholme pub’s real ale event is a hit with CAMRA members
As any beer festival veteran will tell you there are many things that can go wrong at these events. Long queues due to poor service; inadequate tasting notes or no notes at all; a no-change-given voucher system which, at the end of the evening, leaves you with that “ripped off” feeling; lack of involvement from the staff and a sense that they’re just going through the motions and would rather be somewhere else. And worst of all, problems with the beer.
The recent three-day festival at the Fleece Inn not only avoided all these — it avoided them in spades. When we attended, on the Friday night, there was real atmosphere — a warm welcome from an incredibly efficient staff and a friendly clientele made up of all ages who had turned up in large numbers to eat, sample the beers and listen to music provided by the folk group Trouble at Mill. This felt like a true local, a community pub that extended a real welcome to those beyond the immediate area.
Having two bars - the main bar and one in the restaurant section — worked well and ensured no one had to wait for service. The place was busy, but comfortably so, and there was no sense of crush. The six of us in the CAMRA tasting team had a large table to ourselves, enabling us to discuss the beers and make notes at our leisure.
Twelve ales were available that evening and all were sampled. The selection was thoughtful and interesting, with several styles including a mild and a fruit beer, and strengths ranging from 3.4% abv to 4.5. It was good that the selection was not dominated by high strength beers, as is sometimes the case at festivals.
Ten of the twelve were thought to be on good form, while just two were considered lacking in condition. For us, beer of the evening was the aptly-named Golden Evening from Tom Wood, a very hoppy, intensely refreshing 3.6% bitter. Also attracting praise were Hawkshead Red, Jack 0 Legs from Tring Brewery, and the stunning raspberry fruit beer, Hit and Run from Northern.
We congratulate Terry and the team at The Fleece on staging an event which in terms of organisation, atmosphere and beer quality and choice was a real success.
Julian Holt Press Officer Lunesdale CAMRA