It made me quite nervous actually, when Cheryl told me that she wanted me to be a “runner” – which meant i had to fetch the beer to my allocated table for blind tasting by the judges. Yes of course it seems simple now but in the hustle and bustle of activity in the hall and not having done this before I was more than a little apprehensive at the start. Ren, was chuckling at me, he’s so Old School you know!
As a runner we had a list of codes and a string of labels with the same codes and strictest instructions from Sir, to make sure we brought out the beers according to our list. So we had to go get some empty jugs, label them up, take them to the cellar for filling and then fetch them to the table. Hopefully, if you had timed it right the judges would be just about finishing tasting the last ones – God forbid that you’d have kept them waiting! In between fetching out the beers you just about had time to clear the used glasses and get some fresh ones ready. Not to mention clearing the table between rounds, fresh water, new scoring sheets and pens and lots of crackers. Running – you bet!
So yes for a few hours it was busy, busy, busy – but the camaradie between all the helpers was just brilliant. David (Merlin) and other Dave (Acorn) were running on the tables by mine with Dave and Steve also from Acorn and Lee and Kim from Bollington on glass / jug washing duties, so as you can imagine there was plentry of banter and laughter with a little bit of sneaky sampling happening as well.
Finally, all the sniffing, eyeing, tasting and judging was done, the debris cleared away, our volunteering complete and we could at last start enjoying some of the 260 plus beers on offer. It seemed ages till the results came through but here they were. Its like you daren’t hope but yet you love your own beer, surely they deserve some recognition you’re quietly thinking. So just sitting there, going through the motions, noting down in the programme (that i subsequently lost!) who’s won what, graciously acknowledging and applauding as each one is announced. Woo and then it was “and Gold in the Best Bitter category goes to Abbeydale Brewery’s Deception” Yes, yes oh yes!! And then Deception got Bronze Overall – t’was just fabulous to hear.
Winning gold at this festival means that Deception automatically qualifies for SIBA’s big National Beer X Festival in Sheffield next March. Promising to be big and bold, Beer X is set to be a four day celebration of British beer, combining the SIBA annual conference with the final judging and presentation of the National Brewing Competition. But best of all there’s to be a three day beer festival! It’s something like this is going to be the first time all the SIBA brewers, from all over the country will be showcasing alll their beers at one event – and it’s happening here in Sheffield! Ooooh fingers crossed.