Derby CAMRA Beer Festival: Express Yourself

A smiling face on the door.

Another one at the glass stand.

Actually being called "sir" by the lad who served me my first beer.

Plenty of beers on. In the main hall. And the Darwin Suite. And the Fuller's Bar.

What a difference a day makes, eh?

Fuller's Wild River wasn't quite the paw-swiping, salmon-leaping, West Coast meets West London hopfest that I expected. But if it puts a decently citric beer in the hands of a regional market, fair play to them. I won't be too devilish and point out that Adnams already have an impressive track record in that regards.

I'm a sucker for an enticing beer name. So when Mike James from Buxton recommended Laguna Seca by Burley Street, I rushed off faster than a GT car through the Corkscrew. A touch of caramel, a dab of grapefruit, a dry finish... a good beer that can only taste better with the sun on your back.

Sometimes I'll take a punt on a beer for no reason other than their website gives me a tingly feeling. I'd never heard of Devilfish until I saw their name in the festival programme but thought... if they look that good on the web, they've got to be great in the glass. And Bombshell was; every part of it had an edge that was just sharper than other anonymous blondes.

Despite sounding like a John Guest competitor, Truefitt are busy putting Middlesbrough back on the brewing map of the North East. I'm hoping their stout, Ironopolis, is named after the Victorian football team. With licorice licks and toasty roasted malt undercut with fresh ash, this was a superlative stout.

Everything don't mean a thing if it ain't the thing you want. Tonight: good beers, good company. The fest done good. Looking forward to more tomorrow.


  1. What happened to the Darwin Suite and the beloved Magic Rock? It's the only reason I went. The Fullers bar wasn't open when I left at 9pm - why? The rest of the beers were pretty boring to be honest.

    Off to Sheffield Tap instead.

    Continental bar was good, great staff serving, worth a mention.

    First Camra festival, will sadly be my last.

  2. What day did you go, Steve? The Darwin Suite beers are on rotation, so there's a maximum of twenty at a time IIRC.

    Going to hit up the continental bar tonight, not a game-changing selection but it's worth a punt.

    There's a whole season of CAMRA festivals out there. Why not try Nottingham's in October? A thousand beers in the grounds of a castle isn't too shabby a venue.