My Favourite Beer Event : East West Fest 2019


April and May are my favourite months of the year.

It’s in those months that my favourite beer events take place.

Unfortunately – for reasons beyond my brain cells – Bolton CAMRAs excellent event isn’t happening this year. This leaves two. The exceptional Berries, Beans and Beer in Crewe (a future post) and my personal favourite. East West Fest.

Why is it my favourite beer event? If you’ve been, you’d realise that that is a silly question. But it’s a number of things.

It’s the fact that its original inspiration was ISBF1. Which is incredibly flattering.

It’s the fact that it is organised by one of my favourite brewers, who, over these last five years has become a good friend. And he has kept checking up on me recently. He’s good people is Malcolm.

It’s the fact that it’s intimate. That it’s small, friendly and welcoming.

There’s no FOMO shit here. No queues for the latest fad. No soft-serve nonsense. It’s just good beer. Bloody good beer. Brewers from East and West of the Pennines. Sending the good stuff.

It’s the fun that I’ve had in each of the last four years with friends old and new.


There’s no hype. No nonsense. It’s “just” an event with 20 beers or less. In a red shed. Literally.

Like I said, if you’ve been, you’ll get it.

We get it. We booked our hotel rooms last October. 7 months in advance.

The beer is the least of this. But it always has excellent beer. I still smile fondly at the memory of Malcolm reducing the prices on the final session of year 1. And me & Jaz drinking Malcolm’s own May Day DIPA at 50p a half…..for three solid hours.

Beer. Oh yes, beer. I choose the breweries from the West, Malcolm from the East. And, yesterday, the final piece of the beery jigsaw slotted into place.

So. The breweries

From the East :

Five Towns (obviously)
Abbeydale Funk Dungeon
Chin Chin
Crooked Brew
North Riding
Turning Point
Wilde Child

And. From the West :

Black Jack x Five Towns collab
Northern Monkey
Torrside x Boutillers collab

For a bijou bash like this, you’d have to go a long way for a better line up. This list is the cherry on the cake.

The rest of that cake is what keeps me and my motley band of friends coming back. Year after year.

Did I mention that each year ALL the profits go to a local charity?


Good people

Great beer (Look!)

You’d be daft to miss it. So don’t.

We’ll see you in the shed.

East West Fest
The Red Shed (aka Wakefield Labour Club)
18 Vicarage Street South
9th to 12th May

Dose Your Dreams

“I haven’t been myself of late. I haven’t slept for several days.

But coming home I feel like I designed these buildings I walk by…” Station Approach” – Elbow

Whilst this blog space is predominantly focused on beer – and, increasingly, the business of beer – it also serves as my vent space. A place where I can write things I couldn’t say in person. Not because there’s any lack of will, but because I can’t elucidate (at any given time) what’s in my head. The inability to say the right words. At the right time.

Recently is one of those times.

This is decidedly NOT a beer post.


The date 22/12/2018 will live long in my memory. That memory which is notoriously poor with the important stuff, like putting names to familiar faces.

You see, that date was the last time that I had a proper (non-assisted) sleep. Which, for me, means 6 hours.

That’s almost ten weeks. And I need to sleep.

I have absolutely no idea what had caused this, no single event stands out. No stress at work, no particular stress at home. Nothing.

2 or 3 friends pointed out that this might be related to ISBF. But I pushed that to one side.

Initially, I thought I’d “tough it out”, that things would be alright. That this elusive ship of dreams would right itself. But…

Initially, this was brutal. Xmas day being a particular “highlight”. We went to friends for Xmas Dinner, I was “withdrawn” because I was exhausted after almost 72 near “sleep free” hours. I shouldn’t have gone, but this is my nearest and dearest. My second (closer) family.

I attempted to self-medicate. With strong beer. So out came the 9,10,12% big beasts. I gulped greedily whilst keeping myself away from the throng as – after three days without sleep – my irritability was on red alert.

After finishing enough strong beer to stun a rhino, I set off to bed. 2 hours later I felt murderous (and that exaggeration is only slight). I wanted to confront the partying hordes, screaming and shouting. But I didn’t. It wasn’t their fault. They were entitled to party.

It was the first time I realised that my brain wasn’t healthy.

I got dressed, and – with no jacket or blanket – left the house and climbed into the car, reclined the seat and closed my eyes. (But didn’t sleep). Better (literally) chilling down than destroying decades of relationships.

And that was only after 3 days.

Multiply that by 23 and you can see where I’m at.

Anyone who has ever experienced even the mildest insomnia gets part of it. When your mental health is the equivalent of walking a tightrope, it’s a right merciless bastard.

Speaking from personal experience, grief is like a lead weight on the heart and soul, it drags the joy out of almost everything. Even the most menial and simple of tasks take twice the effort.

Prolonged insomnia is different – to me at least. It’s like there’s a gentle vacuum inside the head, constantly humming. Dragging the simplest of thoughts, elongating them. Making them complicated.

The moments I knew this was really a problem were when I snapped at the people I care most about. Just ended up ranting incoherently (no change there then eh?) getting annoyed about the smallest of things. That slipping of control – for an alleged control freak – is hateful. And there are times when I’ve really not liked myself.

There are stupid things. Like driving to Scarbados on New Years Eve with Morpheus pulling my eyelids down.

And – finally – that night, having got to bed – and sleep – at 2am. And forgetting to turn off my alarm for work. At 5am.

I had to smile at the perversity of it.

4 doctors consultations. No answer.

4 days of medicated sleep. Followed by 48 hours without a single of the due 80 winks.

Like I said. It’s a merciless bastard.

2 psychological consultations. No answer to the problem.

The counsellors wanted to open the box. They were told to f**k right off (if slightly more politely). I’m not going there.

Insomnia isn’t regarded as a mental health priority / problem apparently.

Try telling that black mutt that chewed me up on Friday morning. Thank CHRIST I’ve come off Social Media. At least for a bit.

Fortunately, Friday morning might be a blip. I certainly hope so.

I’ve been counselled that I need to keep to routine. That I need to not nap. That I need to change lots of sleep habits. That I need to abstain from alcohol.

I’ve joined a gym. I’m doing everything possible. But it’s not quite working.

I realise that I’m waffling. Again, no change there.

I just wish to apologise to people. I’ve not been quite myself.

Back soon.