It’s not often I get day release to go to a cider festival. I found there’s one that’s close to home–the 31st London Drinker Beer & Cider Festival at the Camden Centre, so I knocked off work with a valid excuse–massive hangover–to head down to Euston.
After warming up at the Euston Cider Tap, I head for the building behind Camden Town Hall (just off Euston Road, not actually in Camden proper). Outside, there’s a queue of balding middle aged men (and seven women), with scraggy beards and jamjar glasses. I add my own scraggy beard to the queue, and we wait like excited kids in dandruffed anoraks, for the doors to open.
The room is grand inside, it’s a 1937 ballroom, with a large chandelier hanging above us. Around the edge of the room are various bars and food stalls, with the odd table set up in the middle of the floor to lean on. It’s a few quid to get in, but for that you get an LDBCF pint glass (you can ask for halves at the bars), and a handy guide to the festival. According to the guide, they have zebra and camel burgers on sale here. London Zoo are among the sponsors.
Time to get stuck in. I immediately gravitate towards the Campaign for Real Cider and Perry stall. I choose a pint of Ventons Apple Whisky Cask. A 6.3% Devon cider. It’s pretty dry, but not tongue-stripping. However, there’s a strong note of silage, with smokiness from the whisky cask.
I try to remember to pace myself, and wander over to the CAMRA merchandise stall. You can not only buy the t-shirt, but also the bar mat, keyring…you name it. I can’t find a walking stick plaque, though.
Next I go for the Williams Bros Hooker. A 6.3% cider from Glamorgan. It’s a very nice medium cider, a little tarty, a little sweet, lightly sparkling with a dryness. Apparently it’s a new one from Williams, a proper 36-24-36 of the cider world.
My alarm beeps to tell me it’s time for my pills. I buy the biggest cheese bap I ever saw and another pint of something or other–my memory’s not what it was. The atmosphere is warm and buzzing, the bar staff are friendly. I notice some youngsters in the crowd and wander over to a table to chat to some young brewers from the Beer Hive, near Brixton. ‘Beer Hive’, get it? Those crazy kids.
After 4 pints of scrumpy, my legs are starting to give out and I decide I should quit while I can still see. I dry off my souvenir pint glass, so it doesn’t wet my shopping trolley and head off for the bus.
Same time next year?