It is no secret that I am a great fan of The Pelican, and I am also a great fan of beer festivals, so clearly this was a combination not to be missed.
The date, running from Thursday 12th to Saturday 14th of February, means that if you share my views on Valentine’s Day, this is the perfect place to escape it. If you do celebrate Valentine’s Day, well where better to bring the one you love!
I attended the beer festival for the first time on Thursday night – this is a ‘school night’, so I had to try to be at least a little restrained whilst surrounded by so much interesting and delicious ale.
The reason that I dragged myself out on a school night was that the Gloucester CAMRA members were going along. Whilst sampling the ale, we enjoyed a talk by Vernon Armor from Wye Valley Brewery, the pub’s owners, and a tour of the cellar by Michael Hall, the landlord.
Whilst there, the Chair of Gloucester CAMRA, Margaret Wilkins, took the opportunity to present Michael with a certificate for his well deserved award of Gloucester CAMRA Pub of the Year. He already knew that he had won that; what he didn’t know was that he had also won the Cider Pub of the Year. Two more certificates to add to his growing collection.
The beer festival itself was excellent. It started with 15 beers, and for the bargain price of £12 you could purchase a card which allowed you to sample a third of a pint of each and then have a pint of your favourite. For those of you not good with maths, that’s a total of six pints at a cost of £2 per pint: I told you it was a bargain.
I enjoyed the Thursday night so much I went back on Friday.
By this time, there were 19 beers on, but turnover was fast. Every time a beer went off another one came on. Beers were turning over faster than I could keep up, and as I became more inebriated it became more difficult to keep up with what I had tried and what I hadn’t – a great problem to have!
All in all a brilliant night.
We are lucky in Gloucester to have such an excellent pub. It is wet-led, which means it is all about the beer: a traditional pub with no food served (except crisps and pickled eggs – a wonderful delicacy!).
Beer quality is paramount, and Michael fiercely champions real ale – so much so he has taken lager off the bar. This doesn’t find favour with some of my lager-drinking friends, but it seems to work well. The atmosphere in the Pelican is rare for a city pub in that it has a large core of regulars, giving it an extremely friendly atmosphere.
The Pelican is not without competition: it can’t rest on its laurels. The Fountain is also an excellent pub with a superb range of good quality beers. I suspect that the Dick Whittington will also be offering serious competition now that Martyn Penn is at the helm – he was previously landlord of the Pig Inn the City, which won Gloucester CAMRA Pub of the Year many times.
They are going to have to work hard to match the Pelican though – which can only be good for Gloucester beer drinkers!