Wednesday 16th March – 0915 x 1530.
After two buses across Leeds, I managed to get to Pudsey Civic Hall just in time to see The Brass Castle brewery van pull up outside the hall. Fortunate, because I was the one who was going to receive tuition on how to manage the key keg dispense and supervise the bar during the festival.
After three large trolley loads full of key kegs and various bits and pieces, including a bloody heavy cooling system we got down to business setting things up. Phil Saltonstall of Brass Castle was pretty thorough and very knowledgeable around not only the logistics of dispense but the whole key keg argument. There’s a full post, if not more, coming, but basically he reckons that the key keg beer, or at least his own, is probably more real than the cask versions – he does produce both.
Now please don’t go thinking this is a Brass castle bar, it isn’t, okay there are several Brass Castle beers; Hoptical Illusion (Gluten free), Session, Heretic, California Steamin’ and another one I can’t remember now I’m back home. There are also two from Bad Seed: Cascade and Cascadian (dark). I’m betting that will cause some confusion with both punters and staff. Fortunately the dark one is exactly what it says. There’s also Northern Monk Rapscallion and Ridgeside Nautilus.
A little bit of quality control was going on as we set up the taps and got the flow right and I can tell you that there are some really cool beers here.
One thing the sceptics will be able to do is to compare cask and key keg, same ale, different dispense as we have both Nautilus and Sunshine in both forms. If you want to compare you’ll need a mate or cadge a glass from somewhere, but it’s an interesting idea that I will certainly be trying.
By the time I left, as well as setting up the key keg bar, I’d also washed around 2,000 glasses and helped to (temporarily) flood the civic hall kitchen. Amazingly enough, our little glass washing team only managed to smash one glass and find another damaged on arrival. Not bad really.
Overall, when I went home there was a real buzz. A real feeling of satisfaction. The team of around twenty volunteers have really worked hard over the last three days. I’ve got another beer festival meeting this evening – Clifford this time. After a couple of pints of OBB and festival discourse it will be another early night and back for as near to 9.00am as Harrogate travel and First bus can manage, ready for opening at 10.45 am (CAMRA members preview) and the official opening at 11.00am.
Remember, the festival is running from Thursday 17th to Saturday 19th, two sessions per day. Get yourself down and have a few ales and a chat. If anyone is interested in more detail on the key kegs then please speak – I’ll not be far from the bar; tallish, baldish, Eric Morecambe style glasses.