St Neots Beer Festival – Booze on the Ouse

The 42nd St Neots Beer and Cider Festival, organised by Huntingdonshire CAMRA, took place Thursday 13th to Saturday 15th March at the Priory Centre. We’d never actually been to the festival before, so on this sunny Saturday we decided to take the bus to St Neots.

The easy 40-minute bus ride on the X5 from Cambridge took us to the market square, which is a 5 minute walk away from the venue by the river. We arrived around 12.30 and were pleased to find that it wasn’t jam packed at this early hour, unlike the Ely beer festival was at midday in February!

Beer casks, courtesy of @pintsandpubs

Beer casks, courtesy of @pintsandpubs

The main hall was half filled with chairs and tables, which was great to see – lots of space to sit, drink and chat. At the back was a farmers market type stall selling ploughmans – cheeses, olives, bread, all lovely and fresh looking, and a hot stew (not veggie, unfortunately).  Along the side and back were the ales  (over 60 available over the course of the fest) and ciders, bottled foreign and local beer (including a festival special from Draycott) and a tombola thrown in for good measure (we had a few goes, and no, we didn’t win anything). The signs leading to ‘the smoking area’ actually led to a lovely little riverside terrace where we sat in the sun enjoying our beers.

The staff were really friendly and helpful, and the atmosphere was relaxed and chilled out. I was pleased to see that they were serving thirds – it meant that I could try a few more beers…

Grain beer, St Neots Some beers that I really enjoyed:
Hopshackle Kinesis – Light, golden and hoppy – at only 3.8% it was an easy drinking beer to start with.
Skinners Splendid Tackle – My beer of the fest – fresh, hoppy, honey flavours, very mellow and English tasting, and very moreish.
Bexar County Café Pequeño – Lots of flavour packed into this little 2.8% unfined coffee stout. Went down very easily.
Bexar County American Pale – A tasty golden strong ale (5.7%) with lots of hops. Didn’t taste its abv at the start, but felt it warming me up after a few more sips!
Grain Year of Hops: Cascade -Big hop aroma and flavour. Only 4.4% but full bodied and nicely balanced.

We tried a few more decent beers, including Mighty Oak English Oak, and one that I wasn’t so keen on, Mauldons Lemon Adder, with too much ginger and strong lemon flavours for my taste – but according to bar staff it was going down very well!

A great, well-organised little festival and one we’ll definitely go back to next time – and at a mere 40-minute bus ride from Cambridge there really is no excuse not to…

Terrace, St Neots

Published in: on March 16, 2014 at 8:33 am  Leave a Comment  
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