“I’m only here for the wine,” I said.
I thought honesty was the best policy.
And that, surely, organisers would have thought out of the box. Wouldn’t the only thing worse than a pub with no beer be a beer festival with no wine?
Anyway, you can’t discriminate in this day and age; you’ll have the European Court of Justice on your case.
I imparted my intentions just as we crossed the threshold of Magna’s White Rose Beer Festival on Friday night, to the mortification of Bloke and our mate Jez. Tutting with disdain at The Blonde with no head for ale, real or otherwise, they told me I perhaps should go wait in the car with a bag of crisps.
Then I found it, there, in the programme; a wine bar. With over 30 top tipples to choose from. So while they headed off to grain, eating their words, I toddled merrily off to grape. And didn’t see them again for a good half hour.
It wasn’t intentional, though the vastness that once was the old Steelo’s WAS wall to wall men. (Single women, take note; if you’re on the hunt, head for a beer festival. You’ll be spilt (sic) for choice).
Though it wasn’t women these blokes were intent on pulling. Where their forefathers once toiled in heat and grime, they were manfully, valiantly, working up a sweat with the task in hand; downing as much beer as possible in as short a period of time.
This wasn’t quite what I had been expecting when I excitedly accepted the invite. I’d imagined lots of sipping of little samples; stout chaps making tasting notes and espousing the merits of brews and bitters. Mildly.
I fought my way through crowds of beer-swilling men, trying desperately not to joggle any elbows, and headed for what had to be the wine bar; the far end, where all the women were huddled, looking fed up.
Once in their midst, I realised why; t’other side of the bar to us, there were over 30 wines to choose from. There was even a champagne. But only one poor sod seemed to be serving and he was rushed off his feet. Getting served was impossible. I waited and I waited and then I gave up and headed for the next-best thing; cider. I used the same selection process I rely on at the races and went for an interesting name.
My menfolk were onto what must have been their third brew when I arrived, gulping down my refreshing Woodthorpe Owd Barker.
It was only 12 per cent or something, I beamed. At which point I was frog-marched to the pumps for what they saw as their personal mission; my baptism in beer.
I must say I loved the descriptions; if only the ales lived up to them. The Barnsley Acorn Blonde, “beautifully balanced with a clean crisp finish” sounded very me. But all it tasted of was beer. Ditto Chardonayle, “with Chardonnay wine notes like lemongrass”.
And own up; what idiot forgot to put the chocolate and liquorice in the Golcar Dark Mild, and the coriander and lemon in the Hebden’s wheat beer, then?