Saturday, 19 March 2016

Rhythm and Brews in Montrose: 5th March 2016

There were a quite a few beery events around this weekend in Scotland, always great to see, but I'd decided to take advantage of a very cheap return fare to Montrose to head to the 1st Rhythm and Brews Festival, organised jointly by Burnside Brewery and the MoFest people.

Outward travel was as follows:-
  Train: Glasgow Queen St. to Montrose (41 on the hour)

The journey to Montrose started off in bright sunshine but as I reached the Dundee, the haar typical of the area came down and restricted visibility along this lovely section of Scotland's coastline (OK, I know I'm biased). Location-wise Montrose is a slightly strange place - the town centre is not quite on the coast and the large expanse of Montrose Basin upriver from the train station has filled up over a number of years to become a huge tidal flood plain - great for all sorts of wildlife and wild fauna.

After a short stroll along the gently lapping shore of the Basin I headed back into the town centre, consisting of Murray Street, Castle Street and the High Street. This Saturday the Angus Farmers Market were in residence on the paved section of the High Street and although I was disappointed not to see an appearance from Kirrie Ales (Forfar only it seems, not Montrose), I did manage to pick up some great zesty lemonade scones (with the lemonade replacing milk) from Storm Cakes of Aberlemno.

Located almost almost immediately behind the marketplace (makes sense) is the Market Arms, and it was here that I encamped for some high-carb sustenance before the beer festival.

At just past noon the place was packed; more specifically the majority of people were in for food and I could definitely see why. They really only do soup and various types of sandwiches/filled rolls but for only £3.50 for a soup-and-sandwich deal it really is excellent value. All the centre of room & side booth tables were taken and so I sat at the bar, ordered a pint of Inveralmond Ossian (Harviestoun Bitter & Twisted was the other hand-pull choice) and fairly quickly made my soup-and-sandwich choice. At that point I was interrupted by a hissing noise and an elderly couple pointed me in the direction of a table at the back of the room which had just become vacant - really good of them as it would probably only have lasted a minute or so further. This meant I could eat my minestrone soup and tuna mayo sandwich (sans sweetcorn) in relative quiet at the back of the room - and quite excellent it was.

Food done I headed out from the Market Arms and went east towards the beach area at Montrose. As mentioned this is a bit out from the town centre, maybe a 15 minute or so walk, and in my case, this involved walking across a couple of holes of the golf course (completely deserted today) to get to the high dunes in front of the beach. In contrast to the gentle waters of Montrose Basin that I'd walked along earlier in the day, the wind and sea haar were whipping up the sea spray fairly impressively, although I could just about see the tall lighthouse across the bay at Scurdie Ness.

I followed the curving road of Trail Drive back towards the town centre and then over a disused railway line before reaching 'old' district of Montrose. Here Montrose Museum, the old Montrose Academy buildings and the town's remembrance gardens and are all located, and this was also the location of Montrose Town Hall where the Rhythm & Brews Festival was being held.

I'd paid the £12.50 entrance fee in advance and, although this was a bit steep, there were at least 4 tokens for a pint of beer available with the festival glass (and thereafter £10 for 11 tokens, an interesting exchange rate!). Actually there were 2 festival glasses, a plastic one for drinking at the festival and a glass one for taking away (this bizarre situation was purely a local licensing 'issue'). The large hall space had the bar setup on the right, a gin & prosecco bar at the far corner, loads of tables on the left and the high stage front & centre (with more than adequate dancing space). There weren't too many people at the bar when I came in - it wasn't really being used as a meeting or lean-to space but that didn't really stop me from baggsying a space at the far left side beside the on-loan keg units from six°north.

Music is just as important as beer in this festival, early Saturday Kith and Kin were performing some traditional and more modern Scottish songs to loads of applause, and I was told the music the night before was excellent (with some serious dancing as well, supposedly).

Holding fort at the bar were the guys from Burnside Brewery (and of course loads of other volunteers) and I chatted to both Gary & Dave over the the course of an hour or two. They had managed to get a great selection of beers (Cromarty, Windswept, Deeside & Eden Mill were all present), but this also included pins from Lion's Lair, some of their own MoFest beers (golden & dark (with real chocolate - yumm!)) and bottles from very new Park Brew (I was able to procure a bottle of this for the train journey with a little persuasion). It was also great to see Kriek beer on draught (OK, keg), you don't see that too often (maybe at the newly opened six°north Glasgow) and glass washing was taking place after any attempt at drinking a glass of this (thanks to the staff for this!)

This was just a great chilled out festival but I unfortunately had to head to back to the train station before the 2nd band of the afternoon had finished their warm-up - hopefully I'll manage an evening session next year at the 2016 Rhythm and Brews Festival.

Return travel:-
  Train: Montrose to Glasgow Queen St. (~15 on the hour)


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