East West Fest 2019 – My Favourite Beer Event Got Better.

East West Fest. It may be small, but – to these rather biased eyes – it’s perfectly formed.

And has left me wanting more. Feeling curiously low after a weekend of highs.

And for all the quite excellent beer there this weekend, it’s always the people that supply those highs. Good people. Drinking good beer. (Now where have I heard that before……?)

Anticipation

This event affects my friends and I in a number of ways. The first being the checking of calendars, nudging Malcolm to set dates, to facilitate the booking of hotel rooms 7 months in advance. We actually do get excited THAT early.

That’s the impact this little Red Shed can have.

Rooms booked, it’s shortly after this that Malcolm and I start to think about the breweries we want involved. And I start to get all tingly again. And start up my spreadsheet.

Have I said quite how much I love this little bash?

The Build Up

Once I start to get an idea of the breweries involved (normally 3 months in advance), I start to wind up our little group, with hints dropped here and there.

The trains get booked. We wake up the Social Media accounts that go into hibernation for 9 or 10 months. And start planning one or two collaboration specials – one of this year’s being a long mooted Black Jack x Five Towns mash up.

Ahh…. May Day. The Arch Nemesis killer.

Have I said quite how much I love this little bash?

The Weekend

For those of us travelling across the Pennines and from points further North and South, it’s an early start on the Friday.

Bag packed, raffle prize donation in hand, off to Manchester. The traditional coffee at Java on the concourse at Victoria awaited (will someone please tell Costa & Starbucks to piss off from Victoria? They can’t beat this little independent on flavour….)

(image courtesy @BeerFinderGen)

The journey across seemed to take an AGE! That’s anticipation for you I suppose.

Arriving at the Shed is always a bit of a joy. Like greeting an old friend (hold that thought!). And some habits die hard. Like winding up a Torrside fanboy that the Raspberry Tea IPA had run out. (James. I refuse to apologise….)

From the moment our little group started to coalesce on the Friday lunchtime, it was like we’d never been away and apart. It was just – and remains – the most fun event I know. And that’s down to company old and new.

Especially when Chris won his bet….Respect….

I don’t think Malcolm thought that Chris actually WOULD turn up dressed as a little old lady pulling a shopping trolley. It cost him £100 into the charity pot. A price he willingly paid. Laughing.

Chris is a genius. And that wig spawned a number of celebrity impersonations.

The best being Jack Osborne

And a serviceable early period Leo Sayer

Now and again, the tears of laughter would dry. And we’d drink beer. And the beer was tremendous. If on the strong side (which we loved BTW)

Highlights on the lighter side were beers from Yorkshire, Chin Chin & Revolutions, Dark side, the Northern Monkey “Film Club” Popcorn Stout was bloody lush.

4 of the 20 beers were 8%+. And bloody lush. The Redwillow Small Batch Simcoe DIPA was punchy & fruity. Both Five Towns beers (8,% Chocolate Orange Stout & 8.8% May Day) flew and as for the Abbeydale Funk Bretted Imperial Stout….

Day 2 (Saturday for us) saw some more first time visitors from over the right side of the Pennines and it was great to see Andrew R back, goes to show it’s not just our little group who “get” this.

And that wig never got boring….

OK. As everyone who comes knows. This is a little red shed.

You should NOT have the beers that we do. But we do.

This year we had people from York, Glastonbury, Peterborough, Wolverhampton not to mention the sizeable Mancunian contingent. They all went away and “got” what we “get”.

I would say that this was probably the best beer list I’ve been involved with. But the beer was almost secondary.

It’s the people. The fun. The atmosphere.

I’m bloody proud to be a small part of it.

And I’ll be booking next year’s hotel room before #ISBF6. Trust me.

Have I said quite how much I love this little bash?