There is no beer fest I looked forward more to in my 31 years than FyneFest 2013. It was my first time going and I’m pretty certain won’t be my last. Fyne Fest takes place in Argyll up in Western Scotland. Here’s a helpful map to help you get your head around where I went:
From London I took the Caledonian Sleeper from Euston to Glasgow. It was lucky for me to have made it as I decided to go out for a few pints with my co-workers after working an extra long day. I had to rush back home to grab my things, shower and get back into the city, just making the last train into the city for the night. Well planned by me. But I did make it and I was lucky to get a sleeper berth to myself. Booya.
The sleeper train is well worth taking. I slept like shit, but it was the best way to go really. The bed is warm and comfortable. If you can book in with someone you know, even better. And book early as it can be very cheap! One of my tickets was £19.
I got into Glasgow around 7 and caught the 926 bus to Cairndow. I called the brewery when I got there and someone nicely came to pick me up! It was only 2 miles to Fyne Fest, but I had no idea on how far it was. It was so nice of Fyne Ales to arrange transport for campers, especially single and mostly lost ladies like myself.
I got there around 11 and the festival didn’t officially open until 4. So I set up my tent, went to the brewery tap which had been remodeled since my first visit. It’s really nice and welcoming. My first pint was Jarl, which is one of my favorite Fyne Ales. After a short nap, the festival officially opened.
I had my first festival pint which was Oakham Citra, which I think I’ve had before but couldn’t remember much about. It was good and I paired it with salmon kedgeree. The kedgeree was my favorite dish of the weekend and I should have had it again, but I was too busy trying all the rest of the food.
With a full stomach I started ticking off the beers on the list. I got 20 beer tokens (1 token = 1/2 pint) and figured that would just about last me into Saturday evening. 10 pints is a lot, but with so many delicious beers I knew I would be drinking plenty. The night ticked on and I made a few friends and started chatting about this and that beer, the glorious city of London (which Scottish people don’t seem to see that glory), and basically everything else under the sun. Before I knew it it was night and it was absolutely bucketing down with rain and very windy. I was struggling to stay awake after a long week so I retired early to my bed. I am happy to report that my tent was indeed waterproof and thank god for that!
As you can see I have a pole sticking up in my tent awkwardly. That’s because the pole in my never-used-before-tent broke when I was trying to set it up. I was very pleased about this. I even got a guy to tape it back together but it snapped again. Luckily it was just for the rain fly, so I was ok. It was super awkward to keep putting the pole up when I got in and out but not the end of the world.
So Saturday was the main day of awesome. I got to the beer tent when it opened up at 11 AM. My first beer was Fyne Ales Bell Rock n’ Hop which started me down a long and treacherous path of IPAs and high percentage alcohol for the day. I was planning to walk that day to the Walkers Bar up the glen. I struck up a conversation with a nice guy in the beer tent who was also heading that way so we decided to walk together. I packed a Superiour IPA (7.1%) in my flask for the 3 mile walk like any sensible person would do. The rain was intermittent on the walk but overall really pleasant.
This was the best part of the festival for me. The walk was a welcome reprieve from the beer fest. The glen was beautiful. Inside the fishing hut was 4 kegs of Fyne Ale and some lovely burgers. We got to chatting with Jamie from Fyne Ales and one of the brewers from de Molen for a while as we sank a couple pints. I had a Raad & Daad from de Molen the night before which was the most vinegary beer ever to pass my lips. Yikes. But after speaking with the brewer from de Molen we gave the Amarillo a try on his suggestion back at the beer tent, which completely redeemed them. It was one of my favorites of the fest.
Once back at the brewery we went on a brewery tour where I was surprised at how small the brewing set up was at Fyne Ales. From what I remember from my alcoholic haze they have a 7 or 9 barrel system. The amount they produce from this is amazing. They must have been brewing like mad before Fyne Fest to produce all the beers they had on at the festival. They did have quite a lot of fermenters to be fair.
We headed back to the beer tent from there and got onto that Amarillo I spoke of earlier. Then I went for the Lemoncello IPA (9%) from Siren Craft Brew. It was some bit after that when things began slipping away from me. Luckily my little internal sober conscious took over, dragged me out of the beer tent, made me eat loads of food and boshed a 1.5l water in like 10 minutes. I sat down for a while to gather myself and suddenly I was back! Back ready to dance! I drank a bit more but mostly I was focused on dancing. This went on until midnight when I excused myself from the dance floor and went back to my tent.
I woke up Sunday at 7 a bit worse for wear. Walking back to my tent from the loo I thought I may toss my cookies. Drinking a bit more water and heading back to bed seemed to help me quite a bit. Finally I got up at 10 and made a double cup of tea. This tea certainly saved my life. Thanks to my co-worker for lending me his little stove.
I did lay around a little bit more as I wasn’t scheduled to leave until 3. And in my drunken stumblings the night before I pre-ordered some seafood paella for Sunday. Well done drunk Colleen.
I can’t say enough about the food I ate all weekend. It was just as good as the beer. All of it was by local guys with local ingredients. I really enjoyed everything I had.
After getting my paella I got a beer and ate. It took a lot of courage to get a lot of beer. I will admit that I tried to go up at 11:30 to get a beer and had to step away and go for a walk. I just couldn’t face it just yet. But I did get two more beers the last being the Sublime Stout. It was pretty sublime and I would have enjoyed it more on a different day.
Not long after, I took down my tent and headed out for Inveraray for the rest of my Scottish adventure.
Really, it was such a phenomenal festival. The brewery really looked after everyone there so well. I have very little to criticize about the festival. Everyone was in a great mood. Lots of happy kids running around. Well, a lot of happy adults running around as well. Next year it would be great to bring some friends along, but if I go alone again I know I’ll have a great time too!
I’ll write up a bit about the rest of my trip later and share some photos. Until then enjoy the rest of the weekend! Peace.