Castle Rock 40th Anniversary Yard Party and Beer Festival

2017 sees Castle Rock celebrate its 40th anniversary, and to celebrate the event The Brewery hosted a yard party and beer festival in the brewery yard and at The Vat and Fiddle.

A potted history of Castle Rock

In 1977, Chris Holmes opened the Old King's Arms in Newark, at a time when virtually no other pub in the area sold real ale, and Tynemill LTD is founded. Moving forward a few years sees Julian Grocock starting work at the Old King's Arms as a bar manager.  1986 sees a second pub opening in Loughborough, this is the Swan in the Rushes, Julian moves to run the Swan, and Neil Kelso enters as bar manager at the Old King's Arms.

1989 sees Neil open the Lincolnshire Poacher, and in the years that follow, the Tynemill Estate grows to include sites in Yorkshire and across the east midlands.  In 1994 the Old King's Arms leaves the Tynemill estate, but is replaced by the Victoria in Beeston.

Castle Rock Brewery becomes established in 1997 and the Vat and Fiddle opens, becoming the brewery tap.  In 2003 a beer called 'Trammie Dodger' is one of the beers brewed for the Nottingham Beer Festival to celebrate the opening of the first Nottingham Tram route, which over time will be tweaked and become Harvest Pale, which in 2010 becomes Champion Beer of Britain.

With the brewery and estate going from strength to strength, in 2012, Colin Wilde is appointed as managing director.

On with the party!

I visited the party on Saturday 3rd June, and was greeted with a bar inside the brewery, with a large range of both cask and keg beers available.  Only one thing to be done, and that is sample the beers.  The beers were selected by Dave James from the Kean's Head, and there was some crackers.  I think that my favourite was the Ruby Red from Howling Hops.

This was not all of the beers, inside the Vat and Fiddle itself, in the vistor centre were tap takeovers by Abstract Jungle, Black Iris and Totally Brewed.

Moving outside into the sunshine, the yard of the brewery was transformed by food stalls and a stage, and the saturday was a family fun day, so there was kids entertainment, and bouncy castles.  As you can see, some of the big kids were enjoying it as well.

Further wandering around, with a beer in hand I encountered many familiar faces, just a shame that I couldn't get them to have their faces painted.  I did suggest to friends to have our faces painted, but replies I can't post here!

I spoke with Chris Holmes and Colin Wilde, and both couldn't believe that it was 40 years, and were very grateful to the support from the local public over the years. Chris added that when he started this 40 years ago, he didn't think that anything like this was possible.  Both are proud to be part of the Nottingham beer scene, which has gone from strength to strength over the years. Long may it continue!

Castle Rock Beer of the Year

During the festival Castle Rock also had their annual Beer of the Year awards.  

Thanks to customers at pubs in the East Midlands and Yorkshire, Black Iris Brewery's Snake Eyes is Castle Rock Brewery's 2016-17 beer of the year.   Black Iris, which operates in the Basford area of Nottingham, is owned and run by Nick Folkard and Alex Wilson.
Nick Folkard says: " We're extremely grateful that Snake Eyes has been chosen as this year's beer of the year.  Winning this for the second year in a row was a huge surprise to us, and we'd like to sincerely thank all the managers, staff, and of course customers of Castle Rock pubs for the amazing level of support that we continue to receive from them. We would also like to thank everyone whose hard work in organising and setting everything up made the presentation night run so flawlessly.
"Lastly, we wish Castle Rock Brewery the very happiest of birthdays! Here's to 40 more - cheers!"

The award for brewer of the year has gone to Tiny Rebel of Newport, Wales, in a ballot that includes our managers as well as customers.  As usual, voting is restricted to guest beers only as those from Castle Rock Brewery are not eligible.

Now in its 18th year of competition, the awards were presented alongside those for best new brewer, Pentrich Brewing based in Ripley; best LocAle brewer Abstract Jungle; best cider Hogan's Panking Pole; and best supplier, GMS, at an event during Castle Rock’s 40th anniversary beer festival in Nottingham. The presentation was hosted by Castle Rock Brewery chairman, Geoff Newton, and attended by the founder Chris Holmes.

In his presentation Geoff Newton thanked all the brewers, cider makers and staff and suppliers for coming along: "This year, we've had even more votes cast than previously.  Again this shows how interest in, and knowledge of, cask ales flourishes as the quality of the products in the marketplace continues to grow. 
"Black Iris's Snake Eyes has once again proved to be our customer's favourite.  It's a juicy and sessionable pale ale brewed by two young men based up the road in Basford.  Well done to them and we wish them continued success," said Geoff. 

Runners up for beer of the year were Thornbridge with Jaipur, and Oakham Ales Citra.

(l-r) Rob Eastwood, representing Tiny Rebel; Simon King, Abstract Jungle; Keith Meadows, GMS; Colin Wilde, Castle Rock Brewery; Matt Ashford, Oakham Ales; Geoff Newton and Chris Holmes, Castle Rock Brewery; Allen Hogan, Hogan's Cider; George Timms, Thornbridge; Helen Jarvis; Joe Noble, Pentrich Brewing; and Nick Folkard, Black Iris

Thanks to Lewis Townsend and the team at Castle Rock for their hospitality, and for organising a great event, and thanks to Graham Percy for the Beer of the Year photo and information.


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