Pete / 2018-06-01
Having been to Galtres festival in previous years, i was trying to find another similar event which offered a festival camping weekened which focussed on a great beer range, and also had some live music and a nice atmosphere. We found the Fyne Fest, a festival organised by Fyne Ales on the site of their brewery. It ticked the right boxes - we were sold on the 250 strong beer list - so bought our weekend camping tickets (£65 each) and transit to and from Glasgow station (£9 per person, each way)
Setting off on the Friday morning, we entertained ourselves on the journey by going through the beer list we'd printed and highlighting the ones we wanted to drink. Some familiar beers went straight on the list, and we found new beers from breweries we knew as well as well-described beers which we didn't want to miss. I think we ended up with 25 each - a target for the weekend!
Once we arrived at Glasgow, we joined a group of similar festival types with their rucksacks and tents outside the Wetherspoons waiting for the bus to pick us up. While waiting we began to spot brewery t-shirts of our fellow attendees - thus began the game of "spot the brewery" which ended up spanning the weekend (I'm glad to say that Yorkshire fared quite well).
A 90 minute (hot) bus ride later and we arrived on site. We walked from the bus down to check-in where we collected our wristband and programme, a token for one beer and an actual glass glass! A welcome rarity at a festival! It didn't take long to set up camp, and eager to whet our whistle we headed to the bar. The setup at the main bar meant that there were 65 beers on at any time so our preparation was useful, but it turned out better to use the beer coding system - e.g. yellow meant "Hops hops hops", blue meant "dark side" - so I started with a yellow coded pale Marble's Table Beer.
We joined the queue with out beers to buy more tokens. Each token cost £1.90 and would get you a half pint or a third of most beers, with more premium beers requiring two tokens for the same volumes. After topping up our tokens we sat out in the sun on one of the benches and enjoyed a few beers. The forecast had been for thunderstorms all weekend but whether valley protected us or the forecast was just wrong I don't mind as we had glorious sunshine - luckily we'd packed sun tan lotion along with the waterproofs!.
The main tent had a few covers bands on, and the second "brewers" tent had more unusual music which we enjoyed from our vantage point.
The arena had a selection of food vendors - we enjoyed pizza, Indian curry, Mexican wraps and traditional Scottish stovies and haggis at various times during the weekend, and there was also a local fish stand which was offering oysters along with other local fare.
Some of the more exotic (and strong) brews on the list were marked as "timed tapping" which were scheduled in the programme. We had already enjoyed the Magic Rock beer at the brewery itself but went to check it out again to find a self-organised queue had formed to ensure that everyone who wanted to try the limited-quantity beer had a chance to do so. Very polite but we were happy to leave this one to the fans rather than queuing.
One annoyance was the midges which arrived late afternoon - we were expecting them but the repellent wasn't 100% effective and I was jealous of those who were naturally unaffected by the bites.
The headline music act for the Friday night was Colonel Mustard & The Dijon 5. They had been recommended by another couple and we'd spotted a few of their fans in T-shirts during the day. They were worth seeing and had everyone dancing to "cross the road" which was great fun.
Despite the bar being open for a few more hours (2am I think) we decided to call it a night and went back to the tent.
As per any festival we had a mixed night's sleep but it was a great place to wake up - wonderful views of the valley. A breakfast cooked on the Trangia stove and we were ready to go by 10am.
The festival had organised a special bar about an hours walk from the main area called the "walkers bar", so we filled up our water bottles and followed the directions. Another day of pleasant weather was on the cards so we enjoyed the walk through the valley, passing the sheep and highland cattle. We passed a cottage on the way which is rented out by the brewery - I wonder if the residents were expecting so many passers by on their idyllic weekend away!
Arriving at the bar around 11.30 we found a turn in the river in front of an old barn hosting a nice range of the brewery's beers and some ciders. One brave person in shorts was already standing in the river enjoying his beer.
We got our glasses filled and sat in the sun on the riverbank. This simple idea added a lot of value to the weekend (made that much better by the lovely sunshine) and for me was one of the highlights.
By the time we'd had a couple of pints and were debating getting another we realised that the steady flow of people had formed a large queue at the bar, and the river was welcoming more swimmers and dogs so we decided that we'd had our fill and started the walk back to camp.
The timing was good enough that we managed to grab a seat outside at the main brewery bar before the start of the big pub quiz. 75 teams took part in the multiple round quiz, and about half of them managed to stay dry when the only rain we saw all weekend arrived. We had our waterproofs on, but were strugging to keep the answer sheet dry and just managed to stay until the end of the quiz.
A quick stop off at the tent, which was nicely positioned next to the main arena, and we got some seats in the large main beer tent. The rest of the afternoon flew by as we enjoyed more of the beer - keeping an eye out for updates to the different sections of the board for the beers we'd earmarked. Pizza and a nice Thai noodle dish kept us fed and we went to bed sated after a very relaxing day.
The final morning (Sunday) and a lot of people were packing up early on to drive home - we had a booking on the 4pm bus so took our time with breakfast and went for another walk. Packing the tent up left us a few hours in which to have a few of the remaining beers in the sun. Fellow festival goers were comparing this year's festival to previous ones saying that more people attended this year but it wasn't any worse for it, and praising the general organisation and comparing beer notes.
We enjoyed the whole weekend and were pleasantly suprised that all the beer was very well kept and I don't think we had a bad one all weekend.
The beer I'd had most during the weekend was the Fyne Workbench IPA (due to smaller ranges at the peripheral bars) and the best beer was probably Wylam Macchiato.