MAD Beer Festival 2014

The Matlock and Dales Beer Festival took place at the Fishpond Hotel Matlock Bath on Friday 8th and Saturday 9th August.

MAD Beer Festival 2014 Poster and Beer List

August 9th marked the first annual Dull & Boring Day, a new state holiday organised by the Oregon town of Boring and the Scottish village of Dull. (it's true, google it if you don't believe me). Well it may have been dull and boring in those places, but excitement was growing down in Matlock Bath. Whilst out on the South Parade the normal weekend business of welcoming motorcyclists with copious fish and chips was happening, down the road at the Fishpond Hotel they were unveiling the CAMRA Approved 2nd Matlock and Dales Beer Festival for the partaking of LocAle.

There were 30 beers in the main Festival Bar which was in the upstairs Ballroom. 24 of these were housed on the innovative stillage and integral cooling system designed and built by pub owner and local engineer and businessman Trevor Milner (for the first festival last year), with another 6 beers and 4 ciders on the end bar. However the whole pub was turned in to a Beer Festival with another 6 beers in the main bar, topped off by a further 6 beers and a cider in the garden bar giving a grand total of 42 beers and 5 ciders available at any one time.



But this very definitely a LocAle festival where all the beers were sourced from micro-breweries within approximately 25 road miles of the pub, which takes in much of Derbyshire, including Derby obviously, as well as parts of Nottingham and Sheffield. Due to the impressive number of micro-breweries in this area we were treated to an amazing choice of almost entirely new and different set of beers from those often available in the Matlock and Dales area.

Novel beers and indeed pumpclips were indeed the order of the day:- so what do ewe call an exploding sheep. Dunno, but down at Nutbrook Brewery (started 2007, in Derby) they call it Boom Baa. Thanks to Totally Brewed brewery (started Feb 2014, in Nottingham) numerous people requested a Slap in the Face however I managed to restrain myself for most of the time. And many people finish off the night with a Cabby Chino from Kelham Island. Thankfully there were no pump clips in evidence from the Naked Brewer (2010, Notts).

Toss in Dark Denomination from the Flipside Brewery (2010 Colwick, Notts) where both brewery and beer name came about because the head brewer is a coin collector, whilst Tuck Porter from Lincoln Green (2012, in Hucknall) brings to mind a well known Friar. I didn't see any wizards of hobbits, after all this is the Fishpond not the Prancing Pony, but if they had been here I have no doubt they would have had the Fellowship (of the Ring) from Middle Earth Brewery (2011, Derby) - for their elf obviously.

New breweries Brown Ales (started 2013, in Clay Cross) and Pigeon Fishers (2013, Hollingwood) were both represented. As were Instant Karma (2012, Clay Cross), North Star (2012, Ilkeston), and Shiny (2013 Derby). So that's more than half dozen new LocAle micro brewery setups in just the last two years and all represented at the festival.

Of course being at the Fishpond, the music was much in evidence - it really is a beer and music festival. Legendary performer Whisky Bob Shaker kicked off in the ballroom on friday afternoon with his bluesy ballads - and his dulcet tones were later to appear again on saturday afternoon in the main bar.


Derbyshire band The John Brewer collective brought some younger fans for their funk/reggae/ska set - and as far as I am concerned only one of those is an actual word. And I must admit to being bemused when I was asked for a Jaegerbomb because I wouldn't know whether to drink it, wear it, or run away. The last act of the night was old favourites The Jar Family - well at least one is an old favourite - that's bassist Keith Wilkinson ex Squeeze. This year they only managed 5 people on stage but turns out they were all on vocals.

Saturday saw us witness Nottingham based folk band Most Ugly Child (I think I know which one it is - but make your own mind up) and the raucous rock and blues of Derbyshire based four piece Black Hands.

So the weather stayed mainly fine for the whole weekend, and despite intermittent downpours of the biblical variety nothing could dampen the enthusiasm of the drinkers in the garden bar. Of course none of this would have been possible without the Mad CAMRA and Fishpond Hotel teams so thanks to them all - and here are just a few of the volunteers

There is always a lot of work goes on behind the scenes and particularly Peter Boitoult on the MAD team and Fishpond Bar Manager Alannah Sheppard who both worked tirelessly to identify and obtain all these wonderful beers. Alannah was presented with a bouquet of flowers in recognition of her efforts in bringing the event together when she took over at short notice. When a good beer festival comes together, it's more than the sum of its parts, and down at the Fishpond the whole place rocked and I think everyone showed how it can be done.

But I hear you ask - how did Dull and Boring day go in Oregon - well I can only believe it slipped past ok, with the locals partaking of ale from the Ninkasi Brewing Company (based in Eugene, Oregon) which takes the name Ninkasi from the Mesopotamian goddess of beer. Its not LocAle though is it.