My brother, some friends, and I arrived at the Tynemouth Cricket Club shortly before 8pm on Saturday evening. There was a short queue to a ticket booth where each relieved of £10 for 8 half-pint vouchers.
We sallied forth unto the marquee. A long bar down one side carried about fifty handpumps. Strangely, there seemed to be very few pumpclips. In fact there were four pumpclips. In fact there were only four beers available – and they ran out by about 8.20pm.
A beer festival running out of beer on its final night is not unheard of. No beer festival organisers have the psychic ability to predict the exact amount of beer to stock, and having local breweries on standby to deliver some bright casks is often a sensible policy.
We could accept the lack of beer but what annoyed us was that weren't informed that supplies were drying up when parting with our cash.
Moving out of the marquee to get away from an awful rock covers band whose drummer had a flamboyant attitude to time-keeping, we observed that people were still being sold vouchers for non-existant beer until well after 9pm. There was a growing number of obviously annoyed people milling around. Some, like us, reluctantly explored the small cider and perry bar (does perry often taste of UHU? does cider often smell of fried eggs?) Some hardy souls even used their vouchers in the pavilion for John Smith's Smoothflow and Fosters.
Only an hour or so after the beer-zero hour did we see newcomers being informed of the crisis.
I spoke to the organiser. I was struck by his cavalier attitude to the number of unhappy people. He actually seemed overjoyed that the beer had only just lasted into the third of three sessions. No doubt his spreadsheet would indicate a roaring success.
His last comment was "I have created a monster". You said it pal.
On a brighter note – an early departure allowed us to go to the Tynemouth Lodge Hotel where we found the Mordue IPA to be utterly tremendous.