Most people travel during the Summer. We did too but we travelled back in time to the medieval ages. We ventured to a time of knights in armour fighting tournaments for the favour of a lady. A time of feasts and banquets. A time of 45 public holidays each year (it’s true!). Knowing our place in life my wife and I were simple peasants. No acting required, just relax, enjoy the tournament and drink ale! Huzzah! England’s Medieval Festival is held at Herstmonceux Castle near Hastings.
They boast three real ale taverns on site: the Knights Tavern, the Jesters and the Buxom Wench. All offer the same range of five real ales, two real ciders and a selection of Lyme Bay meads to wash away the germs. Long Man Brewery (longmanbrewery.com) are based in the South Downs National Park and had the privilege to brew the special beers for the festival and provided the following: Medieval IPA (3.8%), Buxom Blonde (3.8%), Festival Best (4.0%), Hersty Pale Ale (4.3%) and Jesters Foot (4.3%). The brewery did comment that their normal range does include Long Blonde (3.8%), American Pale Ale (4.3%), Best Bitter (4.0%) and Old Man (4.3%) which suggests only one was made for the weekend, Hersty Pale Ale being the festival special.
What really surprised me about this festival were the tavern drinkers. Ale in the medieval times was common, often watered down and used as a way to sort of purify the water, but the 21st Century visitors were also keen on the stuff. Some were CAMRA members (sadly no discounts available) but many were not. It appeared as if they were discovering real ale for the first time. It was proving to be a very positive impression which we tried to follow up with these newcomers to our favourite beverage type. Hopefully those we spoke with will join their CAMRA and return next year. This will be our justification for frequenting the taverns next year as we watch the jousting, falconry and other great medieval attractions.
Also on offer at the event were Symonds Reserve Cider (4.1%) and Glebe Farm Elderflower Cider (6.0%). By the way it was flowing there were many who enjoyed them; we were in Sussex after all.