Saturday 15th October 2011
It was the first time the Canterbury Rugby Football Club had run a Beer Festival and I understand that it is now set to become a permanent fixture due to its success. The organiser was the club's caterer Ted Phillips, who I know through the CAMRA Kent Beer Festival where he runs the curry tent.
The idea behind the event was to celebrate Kentish beers and ciders. The two day festival was held in a marquee next to the clubhouse and featured 15 of Kent's breweries and 4 Cider producers. Food naturally included a selection of curries supplemented with traditional German sausages.
A discount on tickets was available for CAMRA members and similar to the Kent Beer Festival there was a free shuttle bus running from Canterbury Bus Station, so no need to drink and drive. I saw no reason not to volunteer to work.
Before the match there was a sponsor's lunch, which I gather takes place before every home match (at most Rugby clubs).
The ciders were from Biddenden, Double Vision, Kent Cider Company and Pawley Farm. I tried the Kent Cider Co's Bramley & Gala which was a nice medium-sweet.
There were beers from Abigale, Black Cat, Canterbury Ales, Canterbury Brewers (the Foundry), Goachers, Hopdaemon, Kent Brewery, Larkins, Millis, Old Dairy, Ramsgate, Royal Tunbridge Wells, Shepherd Neame, Westerham and Whitstable breweries. All beers and ciders were £3.00 a pint, £1.50 a half.
Some of my favourites beers were as follows, with tasting notes from the program followed by my notes. Canterbury Ales Wife of Bath, crisp, golden ale with grapefruit notes and a hoppy dry finish. Nice and hoppy Kent Brewery KGB or Kent Golden Bitter, with Goldings and Fuggles hops, nice. Old Dairy Brewery Silver Top Stout, sweet toffee, liquorice, coffee and autumn fruits. Strong flavours. Royal Tunbridge Wells Porter, hints of dark chocolate and liquorice with a subtle malty sweetness. A lovely porter. Shepherd Neame Buccaneer, pale and fruity with good body, made using three types of American hops. Good citra hop aroma and taste, almost peachy smell and very slight grapefruit taste. And Shepherd Neame Spooks, big, bold and bursting with huge roasted malt flavours. Full bodied with roasty toasty toffee notes but also golden hop coming through. Whitstable Winklepicker, described as an amber ale, malty in taste, with an orange pomander aroma – not sure about that, but I found it very drinkable.
Canterbury were playing a National League 3 local derby league match against Gravesend on Saturday afternoon. I watched most of the first half and some of the second half, as most of our customers were also outside watching the game. Canterbury easily beat Gravesend 40 to 5.
The club were pleased that the beer festival brought new people to Merton Lane, potential fans who said they would come again.
Shortly after the match finished the music started. I wasn't particularly looking forward to the Oompah Band but what an error! They were very funny and really entertaining. They encouraged a few people to go up and yodel, my friend John amongst them. Then people started dancing so I couldn't resist. Later on there was a band called Party Seven who sounded excellent and played quite a few of my favourites but unfortunately I couldn't stay very long to hear them.
I will definitely look out for Festival next year, it was a thoroughly good day out.
Canterbury RFC, Merton Lane North, Nackington Road, Canterbury CT4 7AZ
Tel: 01227 761301