Review: FyneFest 2019
Our next event this year has been the fantastic ale festival FyneFest. FyneFest is a celebration of the local area it calls home, the produce of the area and fantastic music. It has grown massively from a tiny event in a brewery courtyard to a full-on camping festival. The festival is located on the Fyne Ales brewery estate. FyneFest is a weekend of escapism, accompanied by the best beer, food and music from Scotland and beyond.
Tucked away on the Cowal peninsula in Argyll and Bute, in the beautiful costal hamlet of Cairndow, its landscape is dominated by many mountain ranges and a rather sparse population. The name comes from the loch that is just across the road from the site; Loch Fyne. The translation from Scottish Gaelic means ‘Loch of the Vine/Wine’ which is rather fitting. Loch Fyne is the longest sea loch and extends 40 miles from the Sound of Bute.
FyneFest describes itself as ‘the UK’s best wee beer, food and music festival’ and I think we must have to agree! Back in 2010, Fyne Ales decided to invite some friends to the brewery for a bit of fun and a few drinks. Ten festivals later, FyneFest carries on in the same fashion and spirit, with a lot more friends, pints and food; but more importantly, a lot more fun.
2018 was their biggest festival to date and 2019 marks their 10-year anniversary. They had limited the capacity this year to match last years while also introducing more amenities to ensure everybody is more than comfortable at the festival. This could be felt throughout the weekend as there was never a shortage of anything, which is common across most festivals. This festival is based on pure fun and sharing well-crafted drinks with faces from all corners of the globe.
It was our first time here and we were very excited to experience the FyneFest get together. We met so many wonderful people and had so much fun the entire time.
The music here was fantastic. There were two main areas on the field for musicians to showcase their talents. Firstly, there’s the main stage, which was also the main bar area, and secondly, the other which was known as the Brewer’s Lounge. This featured international brewers and some beers that have never been served in this country. Later in the night we were graced with the mixing talents of Mint Baxter, playing only the best 80s dancefloor fillers.
Friday night’s headline act was the fabulous Massaoke band. Non-stop hairbrush anthems with lyrics on screen to make sure everybody gets it right! This was a good craic after a long day of trying different tipples and it was great to see the entire tent bouncing to hit after hit for a few hours.
Saturday we were graced with Scottish ska kings Bombskare
For the Sunday, the main stage felt like a pub setting and the drinks were flowing. Everybody was in fantastic spirits and it was the perfect end to such a great weekend. Being within the mountains, the rain quickly turned to beautiful waterfalls trickling down from every angle we looked. A great site for a wicked get together.
FOOD AND DRINK
We have never seen so many pumps in a row! There was over 200 beers and ciders over the weekend and the menus were constantly changing. It’s a fantastic way to try so many quality beers in one place. We had to join in and start ticking off our favourites from the programme.
Food and drink options are purchased on site by the means of beer tokens. One beer token cost £1.90 and can be exchanged for either a half or a third of a pint. It is important to check the boards to see what is available and how much beer you would receive for a token. Credit and debit cards are accepted in the Merch tent in order to purchase tokens but all transactions at the bar must be carried out with the tokens. We thought the beer tokens were a great way to avoid overspending!
Finally, there are plenty of water points throughout the festival to stay hydrated after trying so many wonderful beers and ciders.
The food we were offered on site was easily some of the highest quality we had seen in a festival. There were vegan options, but it was great to see the carnivores were also catered for in abundance which makes a change to some festivals. Local seafood was offered by the Loch Fyne Oysters, and their amazing paella. There were thin and crispy pizzas, shawarma wraps, haggis, black pudding and hog roasts, among others.
Our favourite was easily the smoked meats supplied by Fife’s Fox Hat. Their beef brisket was some of the best we have ever tasted, smoked for 14 hours and local to Scotland, it’s a must try. They also had other beef cuts and venison legs.
Our favourite drinks
We tried many different flavours over the weekend, but our favourite beers came from 71brewing, Fyne Ales and the US collaboration Shelton Bros x Teresa’s. Our favourite ciders were easily from London-based Duck-Chicken. Their Easter Hill and Giggle Juice were our go-to ciders but be careful, they do pack a punch! Easter Hill is at 7.4% while the Giggle Juice was coming in at cool 6.9%. They were very smooth and lovely to drink. Clearly well produced. Other ciders were mentioning came from Farmer Jim’s fruity selection. There was a great strawberry cider and a rhubarb and custard cider. Must tries!
Finally, it was great to see local favourites from Wales in Scotland. Tiny Rebel were rated highly by a lot of the locals who loved their Cwtch and we also saw the classic Black Dragon from the Rhondda’s Gwynt Y Ddraig. It was nice to try a few pints of familiar drinks that we may not have to opportunity to try whilst travelling the country!
There was so much for families at FyneFest. Very much a family festival, there must have been just as many children as there were adults. Children could be seen playing all through the day and making loads of new friends. The Kids Tent is the place for the little ones to chill out during the afternoon with entertainment, activities and face-painting until 6pm. The tent has an hour break and reopens at 7pm each night showing back to back films of classic children’s films. The blackboard outside outlined what will be playing and at what time!
Canine pals are also more than welcome. There is a Dog Run field available and they can be let off leads here, but they must always be on leads elsewhere. They are allowed throughout the site including main bars but there are limitations on when, however, as it does get quite busy.
We had such a great time at the Fyne Ales 10th anniversary festival and we know anybody else with similar would love it. It really does suit people from all backgrounds. We thank Fyne Ales for allowing us the opportunity to be a part of such a great get together and we hope to see you all there next year!
Written and Photography by: Johnny David