WORKING AT A BEER FESTIVAL – by Steve Cook
Ever wondered what it is like helping out at a Beer Festival? I did for a number of years. It was one of the reasons I joined Camra back in 2000. I had worked in pubs and bars for 17 years, during which time I looked after a number of pubs whilst the manger went on leave. It was hard work but I got a buzz out of it.I volunteered my services for the 2000 Beer Festival at the Students Union in Pond Street, (is it still there?). How different it was to what I was used to. There were no keg beers, lagers and spirits. There was no asking the customer if they wanted ice and lemon in their G & T, no asking if they wanted crisps or nuts they didn’t want but the pubco wanted them to buy. For various reasons it wasn’t until 2012 I worked the festival again, doing a few sessions on the bar and helping with the breakdown. 2013 I decided to go the full hog and work the whole week, setting up, working the bar and breaking down. And what a week it was. I put more hours in that week than I did in a normal week at my everyday job, (all for the love of real ale and Camra). Being a novice at the set up, I saw how much was involved to get the venue ready. I have to smile at the fact we were in a sports hall. There were many experienced and knowledgeable heads orchestrating without being demanding. Racking went up, the bars went up, and the beers went on the racking. After 2½ days of set up the festival opened. I couldn’t believe how many people turned up for the midday opening. In the blink of an eye I went from being festival constructor to barman. As the afternoon passed, the adrenaline kicked in and the barman in me came out. I was in my element, giving quality service and having banter with those who came in. The bar staff were a mixture of old heads and those new to bar work. The newbies soon learnt the ropes with help at hand from the experienced. Two of the newbies enjoyed their time so much they wanted jobs in pubs. There is one regret I have; it is not having worked the festivals more than I have. The buzz, enjoyment and what I get out of working what I have is on the highest of bars, sorry pedestals. I must have ticked a few boxes last year as this time I have been asked to be Deputy Bar Manager. There are still a good number of weeks before the festival and I already have the buzz. Set up for this year’s festival starts on October 27 with breakdown on November 2 with the festival open October 29 – November 1, so if you fancy helping out, whether it be a session or two, (can you stretch it to three?) on the bar and /or helping with the set up and break down email firstname.lastname@example.org. Nearly forgot, there is good beer (and cider) to be enjoyed. Fancy brewing beer? To celebrate 40th Steel City Beer and Cider we are having two beers brewed in advance that will go on sale in local pubs in September and October to promote the festival. Blue Bee Brewery and Sheffield Brewery Company have both kindly agreed to brew a beer especially for the occasion. CAMRA members will be gathering on the morning of Saturday 5th September at Blue Bee brewery to help head brewer Josh brew the beer which as yet is unnamed but will be a 5% beer. If you want to experience the hard work that goes into brewing beer and lend a hand contact us at email@example.com for more details.