I understand this year's Sunfest was the 11th, and am fairly sure I first went in 2009 or 2010, likely my first ever visit to the pub. That said, am not sure how long Abbeydale have had the pub - so can any Abbeydonians tell me if Sunfest was run when the Rising Sun was not an Abbeydale pub? Am guessing it was. I have had a lot to drink since 2009 however.
Could I also quickly point out that as far as I know the Rising Sun is at Nether Green. I say this because a surprisingly high percentage of my friends either don't know that or don't know where Nether Green is. Its not Ranmoor. Its not Fulwood. I hope I am not wrong on this point!
I arrived about 18.00 on Thursday night with the threat of heavy thundery rain hanging over me - I can confirm that not a drop fell that night. It was gloriously hot in the sun, but the beer was very well kept - not too cold, but with a slight chill that kept it cool and refreshing without destroying the flavour. A big well done to the bar team at the festival for their hard work. It was £10.00 tokens and a hired glass again which is fine - being short of funds these days I may have preferred a £5.00 card but am well aware that you got a refund on both card and glass if you needed one.
My first beer of the festival was not recorded using my highly efficient ticking the programme process - but am certain it was Half Moon brewery York Midsummer, a 3.9% pale ale with Elderflower. A perfect, light, easy drinking palate opener which I supped in about 5 minutes. I moved straight on to the excellent range of keg beers and had a half of Abbeydale Strong and Stable - its a pale and hoppy American style DIPA from Abbeydale at 8.4%. Brewed with much Mosaic so I loved it, and described as dank and delicious, despite its name I spilt some just as I was heading to speak to Dan Baxter, head of talking and many other things at the Brewery. Seems the beer, not I, was strong and stable.
Having tried the Birdhouse tea beer at 4.2% from Abbeyda;e, which was interesting, if not that brilliant, I moved onto Burning Soul Brewery OCT IPA at 6.9% on cask.. Bags of flavour, but not as citrussy as I'd hoped, this was still a perfect beer to follow the SandS. I bumped into Ethan, he of previous Three Tuns fame, and Robin, and sat down with Richard, Bex, Jodie, Darren, Laura and a man with a fab beard. Laura suggested I tried her Princess Rara, an 8.1% naturally hazy vanilla and raspberry pink coloured beer. It was a very enjoyable mix, and thankfully not too sweet. There was also a hint of sharpness from the rasps which balanced the beer well.
Next up was keg Verdant Headband, a 5 5% golden beer from Falmouth described as bitter and sweet. Its the third beer I have tried from Verdant and I have loved every one - their can of Just one more Psi that I tried last month was the best of a range of 13. This did not disappoint. I also tried thirds of Cross Borders Braw on keg at 5.2%, which was too light a beer for keg, and the Fintry Clachertyfarlie, which was alas, too light to register at all. Things improved with Torrside Snap Decision 5.2% pale however, and I finished on a half of the Elderflower Deception. Or Cosmology. Its not clear....
Saturday I was back in the afternoon and met Rich, Kath, Beck, a lady, John, Mark, someone who may have been called Andrew who drank cider, Jon and Mandy, a man called Yannis, Andy M, the Sword of Justice from work, Pat J, Diane and Pete and Carol, and Laura BH and many others. It seems daft to list them all but for me that level of recall is amazing! Now....what beers did I have?
Well, having carefully returned with someone else's blank festival programme am going to have to guessmember. I definitely tried and enjoyed the Boundary Brewing Forever Ago NE IPA at 6.0% on keg. Northern Irish beer has been slow to make it over to the mainland and I had never heard of Boundary before, but this was an excellent starter.
I had a third of the Wilde Child Opaque Reality pale at 5.9% (and over a fiver a pint on cask!?) which was good, but really should have been. I also tried a half of the Beer Nouveau Government Ale at 3.7% - I was looking forward to this since Beer Nouveau are a small Manchester based brewery housed, I think, near Cloudwater, but all I can say is I think it was a "response" to the Government reduced strength Carlisle State Bitter. It tasted of virtually nothing! ( I have since read the listing and this is, virtually, what the beer was, coming from a McGees recipe of 1917. It was still very disappointing.....)
The Fallen Brewing New World Odyssey at 4.1% was good and refreshing, (although people seem to think its pronounced Fallon?) and I had another half of Princess Ra Ra which went down very well. I also enjoyed the Abbeydale Orange you glad its summer on keg, an 8.5% orange spiced saison which was very refreshing and dangerously easy to drink. I tried a half of the Abbeydale Voyager 3 IPA at 5.6% hazy IPA with Centennial, Galaxy and Lemon Drop hops which was very enjoyable.
I think I may also have tried the Double Brimstone Barrel Aged at 8.1% - am thinking this must have been near the end of my visit, which happened as the crowds became incredible in mass, and some beers started to run out.
Overall I really enjoyed my two visits, and although no credit can be taken for the weather, the sun at Sunferst was amazing! I didn't try any of the food alas, so can't comment but all the ales were well kept, even the ones I didn't like, and the range was incredible. Well done once again to Abbeydale and the Rising Sun staff and numerous volunteers for putting on a cracking festival once again.
Hoping to see you all in 2018.