Regular readers of my twitterings will know that I hold Green Duck Brewery in high esteem. Based a hop, skip and stagger not too far from home, I discovered them during a beer festival or two (although I’d been drinking their beer for quite a while) and haven’t looked back.
So when Green Duck say they’re holding Stourbridge Gin Festival in their brewery, I don’t say, ‘What? Gin? You crazy fools.’ I sign up. There and then. Because if Green Duck says it’s going to be good, well I believe them. Some might say I’m naive. They know their beer, but what do they know about gin? Only one way to find out eh babs?
Chap, wench 2 and I had tickets to the Saturday day session, 12-5pm. We were slightly scared by the proposition of drinking gin at noon so decided to be fashionably late, arriving just after 2pm.
Our tickets had cost £20 each, out of which we had £18 worth of drinks tokens to spend on….you guessed it…gin! We were also given a rather generous gin glass that we could take away with us and our brochure.
Despite a good explanation of the workings of the gin festival from the friendly wench at the door, chap and wench 2 were a little confused, so I had to read the instructions clearly and slowly before they could get off the starting blocks.
It was all very simple to me, and I’m a simple wench. The brochure contained over 50 gins, with prices ranging from £3 to £12. All mixers, fruit and other additions free. For each drink you filled in a form and took it up to the staff to make up your gin. The total cost coming off your £18 tokens. The only hard part was choosing what to have!
Green Duck had everything organised to perfection. A seamless gin production line. You queued up and gave your form and tokens to duckie 1 who filled your glass with gin, marked your tokens and sent you on your way. Moving along, duckie 2 added your mixer, and along the production line again to duckie 3 who popped in your fruit and other additions. Worked a treat and big thanks to the duckies who kept us moving along so quickly. We hardly had to queue at all and that’s a good thing. I mean who wants to come between us and gin?!
There were some real treats to try and it was great to have the chance to experiment. I’ve never had gin with black pepper before, but I now think I need to always have gin with black pepper. Yes, really. It was fantastic!
We certainly sampled quite a few different gins, in fact we enjoyed them so much we decided to buy another £10 worth of tokens to carry on.
- Warner Edwards Victoria’s Rhubarb Gin with Fever Tree Ginger Ale and fresh lime
- Pinkster Gin with Fever Tree Elderflower, fresh pink grapefruit and raspberries
- Chase Seville Orange Gin with San Pellegrino Orange and fresh lemon
- Darnleys View Spiced Gin with Fever Tree Ginger Ale, fresh lime and black pepper
- Brecon Special Reserve Dry Gin with Fever Tree Ginger Ale, fresh apple and black pepper
- Sacred Pink Grapefruit Gin with Fever Tree Tonic and fresh pink grapefruit
- Rock Rose Gin with Fever Tree Light Tonic, fresh lime and black pepper
- Warner Edwards Victoria’s Rhubarb Gin with Fever Tree Aromatics and rhubarb
- Didn’t write down wench 2’s number four selection
- Martin Millers Original with Fever Tree Ginger Ale, fresh strawberry and mint
- Bathtub gin with Fever Tree Aromatics and fresh orange
- King of Soho London Dry Gin with Fever Tree Light Tonic and fresh lime
- Zuidam Dutch Courage Old Toms with San Pellegrino Lemon, fresh lemon and fennel
- Da Mhile Seaweed Gin with Fever Tree Light Tonic and fresh cucumber
- Broker’s London Dry Gin with apple juice, fresh apple and lemongrass
There was also food on hand which in hindsight would have been a good idea. Alas on this day I didn’t actually line my stomach with anything nutritious, unless you count the lime and black pepper in my gin of course.
There was a great atmosphere in Green Duck. We appreciated the subtle music playing in the background. Med this wench feel a little bit sophisticated it did.
At nearly 5pm and after five gins on an empty stomach it was definitely time to say goodbye. I never thought I’d be able to say I had fun in Green Duck without a beer, but I did.
The afternoon session was finishing at 5pm and in cinderella style I whisked myself away before everyone’s carriages arrived, leaving behind not a glass slipper, but a gin glass, drained clean of any remnants of the afternoon.
But, like all good fairy tales this is not the end. Oh, how it should have been. It really should.
Our carriage took us along to the Talbot Hotel in Stourbridge. We didn’t go for the beer, they don’t serve any that I’d be bothered about, but they have a little corner with leather armchairs and we needed an armchair. Chap had wine (I think), wench 2 and I had an Irish coffee to perk us up. Bloke joined us and I have no idea what he drank. Maybe I was snoozing. We were planning on food. Well chap and wench 2 wanted to. Bloke never seems to eat before midnight and I’d lost my appetite. The decision to have food got lost somewhere along the way. Oh how I should have eaten. I really should have.
The Irish coffee did perk up wench 2 and we decided to have a beer before going home. Shamefully I’d not been to the Red House Boutique pub so we decided to pay it a visit. Between us we supped on Longhorn IPA (Purity) and No Brakes IPA (Fixed Wheel).
So this is now a real problem. My eyes are locked on Fixed Wheel and the chances of me moving away from one of my favourite beers is like trying to move Donald Trump’s fringe. It’s going to take a strong gust of wind or a forceful blonde (just for the record, in my case I’m thinking some kind of nordic viking would do).
I did spy quite a decent selection of fancy scratchings behind the bar and after (loudly) discussing the merits or not of maple syrup flavoured scratchings, the very friendly bar wench gave us a selection to try. This was my only food.
I think we can mostly skip the next few hours, although in fairy tales there’s often a Prince Charming.
A merry fellow who’d spent several minutes rolling around on the floor after taking a dramatic tumble, asked me to dance. As his dancing seemed to involve wildly moving both legs and arms in different directions to bad 1980s music, I politely declined. He apologised to bloke for asking me. Bloke apologised to him for him presuming we were together and informed him I was more than free to dance. He asked again. Wench 2 told bloke he’d have to man up and take one for the team, ‘pretend wench belongs to you’. There was so much politeness, it was just like an episode of Pride and Prejudice. Well that’s if Elizabeth Bennett had a penchant for beer and scratchings, and managed to pull the drunkest person in the Black Country that is.
So, with no eligible Mr Darcy in sight and my fairy tale over, it was time to call my chariot. I do remember wishing my fair companions well as I left them. Shame I don’t remember much else.
I woke up about 4am. Lying horizontally across my bed, fully clothed, and clutching my handbag, phone and the gin festival brochure. It was open on the page with number 16 – Warner Edwards Victoria’s Rhubarb Gin. My favourite of the festival.
Footnote: There is an alternative title for this post. ‘The reason I haven’t touched a drop in seven days.’ Please drink responsibly.
Green Duck are holding another Gin Festival 6-9 April 2017. Get your tickets now! Links to their website, Facebook and Twitter on my Breweries page.