The real hero of the Three Valleys Beer Festival was Amstel lager


The Three Valleys Beer Festival, or just the Dronfield Beer Festival if you live in the S18 postcode, is a stalwart of Dronfield’s social calendar and I look forward to it every year. Unfortunately, like most others in attendance, I tend to make a complete boob of myself every year and this year was no different.

I wake up late Saturday morning on my sofa with a minor headache owing to the merriments from the night before. Merriments being a grandiose way of saying I drank eight tins of Carlsberg and watched a BBQ competition show on Netflix. I check my phone and already people are messaging me saying which pubs they are going to and that I should find them for a drink.

I compile a brief action plan of what to do, but soon realise this seems inherently wrong. It’s a Beer Festival I think, the scope of my agenda should be boiled down to something more befitting of a part-time opportunistic pisshead, and I revise the full extent of my plan to this: go to the beer festival, drink beer and see what happens. A real man’s man plan.

After a shower, I find out my cargo shorts and set about driving to Dronfield as to avoid the sweaty horrorshow of my experience with the train last year. Northern Millennials know the truth, trains are good for two things only, getting to Manchester Airport. That and being the only form of public transport where a tin of Stella in the early hours is not just acceptable but encouraged. But I was in no mood to drink warm tins of Stella next to overweight people not when I could drink a warm tin of Stella in my own great company, behind the wheel of a motor vehicle en route to Dronfield.

I arrive in Dronfield to meet my best friend Chris. Chris is a Dronfield guy and possibly the most “Dronfield” person I know. He and his family are from Dronfield. He went to Dronfield Henry Fanshawe School. He has worked in Wok Wonder. He regularly does pub quizzes in pubs like old people do but he is not old, I think he is 22. His Instagram handle is @S18Aiky and his Twitter is @WokWonder. He has a large Peel Monument prison tattoo on his leg.

Chris is telling me something about Dronfield when I cut him off to borrow five-pence so I don’t have to break a 20-pence for my first pint of the day at the Blue Stoops. An Amstel. It should be worth noting at this point I do not like real ale, I did not drink a drop of ale all day and after two pints of Amstel, I started drinking pints of white wine then moved on to cider, reigniting my troubled relationship with acid reflux.

The Amstel is cool and lagery. I look over at other people who also bought Amstel and my pint looks like the most refreshing. My body tenses and time dilates as I take what seems like a huge glug but later turns out to be one of many small sips because I have a very sensitive tooth. My dentist is a lovely man called Ian but my god is he going to bankrupt me one of these days. I think about buying Sensodyne but then I remember I’m very brand-loyal to Colgate and all those foolish Sensodyne fantasies disappear as I burp and ask Chris for another five-pence as I finish the real hero of the Beer Festival, Mr Amstel and his plastic cup friend.

Chris insists we watch the live band playing and I agree somewhat cautiously in case they turn out to be good and I accidentally start to enjoy myself before a third beer. The band were good, I think they were called Waddy. I plan on looking them up on Soundcloud and possibly Facebook if I have some spare time tomorrow morning.

Our friends Jon and George meet us in the Blue Stoops smoking area and we decide to mosey-on-down to the Dronfield Arms via the Manor House (which wins the award for nicest portaloos) and the Green Dragon. The Dronfield Arms is packed and I have a stab at drinking cider. I have not properly drunk cider in several years which I think has something to do with getting older and having red wine and premium lager money instead of the three pounds for three litres of Sainsbury’s cider special. Recent Fanshawe alumni will recognise three Great British pounds for three litres of cider as the best thing to happen pre-Brexit and I am forced to agree.

It’s early afternoon, possibly 3 or 4 o’clock and my day starts to take a downward turn. I upset people with flippant remarks. My acerbic wit is mistaken for tactless barbs. I lose everyone I am with, I shout things loudly in the faces of people I know instead of making coherent conversation and I learn a terrible truth about my friend Carl. Apparently, he pooped his pants in Berlin at a stag do last weekend. I am yet to confirm this but the groom Matt Longden is convinced.

A little bit of cider goes a long way I think as I wander back to the Blue Stoops stopping briefly at the Green Dragon and the Manor House on the way. At the Manor House my friend Sam is playing Muddy Water’s Got My Mojo Workin’ and I smoke a cigarette whilst tapping my foot. I notice that I am wearing two socks which normally would seem correct but I later discover at 10pm I am only wearing one sock.

After a brief trip to Sainsbury’s to buy more cigarettes I find myself back at the Blue Stoops where my friend Dale arrives with questionable sunburn patches across his person. We order two tall frosty ones and stand outside drinking them. At this point in the day I realise I am very drunk.

Everything that happens after this point is best described in an unordered list:

  • I wee behind a stage
  • I drink red wine and say things
  • I eat crackers, chutney and cheese
  • I dance with someone’s trashy cousin to Justin Timberblake’s Cry Me a River (his second best song)
  • I call someone’s cousin trashy to their face
  • I nearly crash my car several times on the way home. At one point I say to myself, “Come on, you’ve got this. I’ve seen you drive after more than this and you did absolutely fine.”
  • I wake up on my sofa, go to McDonald’s, buy some Stella and watch Mean Girls with my friend Megan

See you all next year! x

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