Sunday, April 2

Burton Beer Festival 2017

Nick and I last had the pleasure of visiting Burton CAMRA's Beer Festival back in 2013 so a return date with the Town Hall and its Wurlitzer organ was somewhat overdue. What ale treasures and musical memories would await us four years on?

- The Weighbridge Inn -
The 10:19 Nottingham departure from Birmingham New Street gets things rolling and we're far from being the only ale fans on board - in fact it seems that most of the train alights at Burton with a veritable throng of enthusiasts then descending upon King Edward Place. Deciding to dodge the inevitable queues, Nick and I instead seek out the Weighbridge for our first drink of the day. This beguiling micropub is located in what appears to be a former railway outbuilding on the yard of a historic grain warehouse (now a Travelodge) - the Falstaff Darkside is a cracking opening tipple as we admire an old-fashioned telephone receiver and a clocking-in machine.

- Burton Town Hall -
Draining our last drop of Darkside, we are free to fling ourselves into the full festival experience at Burton's handsome Town Hall. Baron Burton's statue stands stately outside as we cough up the £12 entry charge in exchange for glass, programme and the all-important tokens. Ales then line the arches either side of the main floor while the Wurlitzer organ takes pride of place on the main stage. Nick and I both opt for Charrington's Oatmeal Stout before taking residence on the balcony to savour the scene from on high. This is a special setting and we settle in further by sampling Magic Rock's Dark Arts, Leatherbritches' Raspberry Belter (tantalisingly tart) plus Wiper & True's Milk Shake (boasting copious amounts of chocolate and vanilla).

- The wonderful Wurlitzer -
The beer bonanza continues with the rather remarkable Rattenburg Cake, a marzipan-infused Kristalweizen quite unlike anything I'd ever drunk before. Nick steadily steers through a selection of stouts until we both arrive upon Fallen's Chew Chew, a salted caramel milk stout described as a "sweet, briney, chewy trouble maker" - no wonder we couldn't resist! Just when we think things can't possibly get any better, Martin Atterbury treats everyone to his rousing repertoire on the Wurlitzer organ; 'Ain't She Sweet', 'Red Roses for a Blue Lady' and 'Delilah' are among the timeless tunes being performed.

- Swanning about in Stapenhill -
My final tokens are traded for Dark Star's Creme Brulee, a hot seller which lives up to its dessert-inspired name for another case of caramel contentment. The Dambusters March theme inspires an outbreak of balcony flag-waving almost akin to the Last Night of the Proms, then Nick and I take our festival leave in search of a Lord Burton lunch washed down by Titanic's White Star. It's a pleasantly warm spring afternoon now so a little wander seems in order, the sunshine smiling down as we stroll across the 1898 Ferry Bridge to Stapenhill Gardens where Nick soon makes the acquaintance of a certain swan sculpture. 

- The Last Heretic -
Back on the town side of the Trent we partake of three more pubs before our Cross Country curtain call. The Dog is a place I visited with D9 last December which has since been crowned the local pub of the year, credentials we put to the test over some Saltaire Hazelnut Coffee Porter. Station Street then has two establishments within a very short distance of each other - the Last Heretic micropub where we are emboldened by Stout Hearted and beer barrel benches, swiftly followed by the Roebuck which historically served as the Ind Coope brewery tap. Olde Peculier and scratchings are just the tonic we need before the train home but it's the Wurlitzer and the festival that will live longest in the memory. Cheers!

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