St.Helens CAMRA – 2015 Rainhill Beer Festival Review

13th Rainhill Beer Festival

According to Wikipedia the fear of the number 13 has been given a scientific name: ‘triskaidekaphobia’.
Taking this further, the fear of Friday the 13th is called ‘paraskevidekatriaphobia’, from the Greek words Paraskeví (Παρασκευή, mean-ing ‘Friday’), and dekatreís (δεκατρείς, meaning ‘thirteen’).

In western superstition some people take all this very seriously, so would it be sensible to visit the 13th Rainhill Beer Festival on Friday 13th November? Hang on I thought, I’ll go to the first night of the festival on Thursday 12th November. That should ease any lingering superstition fears. So I set off eagerly on the Thursday with a friend to visit what I consider to be the best beer festival on Merseyside.

The Rainhill Beer Festival is always a well organised event with a fine selection of beers.
I have visited the festival over the years from its early days and have seen it grow from quite small beginnings to the impressive event it is now, based in Rainhill Recreation Club.

It has expanded at this venue in recent years with main event now held in a huge marque. Each year the festival develops and improves, and it is a real credit to the professionalism of the organisers, Rainhill Rotary Club. It is even more impressive that this amazing social highlight for the area raises around twenty thousand pounds a year for local charities.

It is a ‘not to be missed’ event in the beer calendar for me!
I have never visited the festival on a Thursday night, only ever going on the Friday night.  So, this year was a first (remember the Friday and 13 thing ….?).  It is the quieter night of the three day festival, so there was plenty of time to take in the beer offerings and to chat with the many Rotary Club volunteers that staff the event.
Once again, the festival had a huge range of beers on offer; one hundred to be accurate.  This is far too many to sample in only one night, even for a beer guzzler like me.

Along with the one hundred cask ales there were also twenty draft lagers and European beers, thirty still ciders and perrys and the new addition of a ‘Prosecco’ bar.  With this range of quali-ty drinks available the event draws in the crowds.

We had a great Thursday night there, and managed to sample a fair range of the beers. One that I remember in particular was the last pint of the evening – 5.9% Jai-pur IPA. This usually sells out very quickly as it is a favourite at any beer festival. As this was the first night of the festival there was a plentiful supply. It really is a lovely pint with a citrus flavour and a lingering bitterness.

The Thursday night was so good that the next day I decided to throw caution to the wind and ignore ‘paraskevidekatriaphobia’!

Friday night at the festival was also a St Helens CAMRA branch social event, so it was great to meet up with our members.  It was also a chance to try even more of those 100 cask ales on offer. Heroically, by the end of the second night I had made a good dent in the festival beer list.  There were many excellent beers on offer, far too many to list here.

In addition to the classic national ‘favourite’ beers there were plenty of local beers on offer too from breweries such as George Wright, Connoisseur and Melwood.
The St Helens CAMRA branch had sponsored a very nice beer from the Little Crosby Village based ‘Rock the Boat’ brewery.  This is a new brewery, and it was the first time I had sampled their beer. They had a couple on offer at the festival, but the one sponsored by our CAMRA branch was ‘Dazzle’, a fine pale golden hoppy beer with pleasant bitterness.
It is definitely one to look out for on your travels, and as a donation is made to an Armed Forces Charity for every barrel sold there is an added incentive to try it out.

I suggest that you pencil in the 2016 Rainhill Beer Festival event in your diaries now.  I don’t know the exact dates for it, but looking in my diary it seems that if it is held on the equivalent weekend in 2016 there are no triskaidekaphobia or paraskevidekatriaphobia issues to worry about.

(Paul Rooney – St.Helens CAMRA)