Saturday, 13 December 2008

Oundle Town Beer Festival

Since the expansion of Ashley Herb Farm into an excellent local farmshop, we don't tend to visit Farmers Markets that often. Sue and her team at Ashley provide for almost all of our culinary needs, what we can't get from the Herb Farm probably isn't worth eating.

The only exception to this is the Farmers Market at Oundle (2nd Saturday of the month). The range of stalls at this market is well above average, and well worth the slightly bleak drive through the heart of the Rockingham Forest to get there. We usually round the day off with a visit to the Ship Inn, or the nearby Chequered Skipper at Ashton, both of which offer an excellent range of real ales, but today we had the unexpected bonus of a beer festival in the town.

The very first Oundle Town Beer Festival is a fund-raising event in aid of the town's Queen Victoria Hall. The festival itself is held in the hall, a fine turn of the century building in need of a little TLC, and hence the need to raise funds. I was happy to make my contribution to the cause, and was delighted to find amongst the 30 real ales, many from local breweries, a good range of traditional ciders.

Burrow Hill Dry is one of my top-ten ciders, a seriously dry, tannic Somerset cider from the makers of Somerset Cider Brandy, and a rare treat in this neck of the woods. The Sam's Medium is a cleaner, more approachable cider from Devon's Winkleigh Cider Company, perhaps a little too sweet for my taste but very good nevertheless. There were also ciders from Westons of Herefordshire, and Thatchers of Somerset.

Whilst Karen shopped on, I continued with the charitable work. I also got to chatting with the festival organisers and discovered that the cider order had been a little over enthusiastic. By a happy coincidence our village local the Red Lion has been looking for a traditional cider to offer in the absence of our own Rockingham Forest Cider. A barrel of the Sam's Medium has been procured, and should be available in the Red Lion, Middleton from later this week. Get it while you can.

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