And so that was the Nottingham Beer Festival for another year. A straight in, straight out hit ‘n run afternoon of booze, all finished off with a rather tiresome train journey back to the splendour of St Pancras.
I can confirm that one hour and forty-nine minutes is the exact time it takes to sober up after an afternoon of drinking through nine beer tokens in the grounds of the old Castle in the Fair City. As the chunder train pulled back into London, I was as fresh as the first pint of Sadler’s Mud City Stout that started the session off, some eight hours earlier.
I’m quite enjoying my annual beer festival visits back to Nottingham. With the various sporting arenas Trentside now providing me with little reason to combine a trip back to my hometown to see folks ‘n friends, booze has rather conveniently stepped in as the afternoon activity of choice.
Those wild, abandoned days of racing around the rolling Wolds of South Nottinghamshire and tearing up the locals with five pints of shandy on a Friday night, now seem a distant past. To be able to recreate my formative drinking days, with the same set of close friends some two decades down the line, is rather reassuring.
Family commitments has meant that this is now an annual event, and not a Friday night come Saturday morning bender every weekend. Still, I don’t ever recall sinking the first pint early afternoon, back in the day.
Not a lot is booming in Nottingham right now. Beer is an exception. Maybe that’s a sign of the times. The historic grounds of the Castle (um, a tacky Victorian replica built after the Men in Tights original was burnt down) is a fine venue for your Friday afternoon beer fest.
Ah, yep, about those men in tights… Beer festivals attract all sorts, including locals who think it amusing to get legless wearing full Robin Hood regalia. I’m proud of many attributes associated with my hometown; grown men wearing tights isn’t one of them.
With six hundred and sixteen different casks on offer throughout the weekend, you would need your fair amount of robbing from the rich to afford a sample of each ale. I settled on the dark stuff, declaring the Nottingham Beer Festival of 2009, the Year of the Stout. A trip to Browninstone-on-Sea soon followed, early Saturday morning.
But it wasn’t all about the booze. It’s rare these days that the same characters that were so much part of my friendship and Forest days during the mid to late ’80s get the chance to be together once again. With a run of 40th birthdays creeping up on us all over the next twelve months, we could be partying like it’s 1989 all over again over the coming year.