The usual larger real ale festivals like our own Cambridge Beer Festival, Peterborough, Ely, St Ives, Histon Feast, Soham Carnival and the Shelford Feast were all wonderfully attended, the beers all great, and a shot in the arm for the many microbreweries in the area. It is good to see the likes of Fenland, Milton, Wissey Valley and City of Cambridge Brewery all flourishing. The new kids on the block, Cambridge Moonshine, have also made an encouraging start - congratulations to Mark Watch for winning an award at our own Festival this year.
In an earlier article the Brown Stuff warned of the enemy within. It seems I may have been a little harsh and reactionary; whilst I still believe that Pub Companies do not have the drinker at heart, there is the odd anomaly. I nipped into the Blue Ball in Grantchester, having been reliably informed by one of my spies that Greene King was no longer sold there. To my delight the publican, John, once of the Salisbury Arms, was still there and serving a smashing pint of Adnams bitter and he also has a constantly changing second beer - in this case it was Timothy Taylor Landlord with Draught Bass waiting in the cellar. The Blue Ball was the Cambridge Branch Pub of the Year 2002 and who is to say it won't happen again soon.
Whilst I have touched on pub news, it is great to see Roy and Una Barton, twice of the Plough Great Shelford, behind the pumps at the Tree in Stapleford. This is a Greene King pub and they do serve a good pint of Morland bitter. The pub has been extended nicely and is tucked away in Bar Lane. The people of Stapleford are extremely lucky having three wonderful pubs in their village.
As this is the last issue of 2004, I would like to thank you for all the reaction to my articles this year - it has kept the editor busy! A Happy New Year to you all and see you at the Winter Ale Festival!