Now, I’d be lying if I claimed all beer at GBBF was “great” — there certainly are a lot of rather dull beers. The fact that Greene King IPA is even allowed in the room makes me sad. Then again, there are people who like the stuff — does that justify it? Sorry, I’m going to say “no” and that I think these people are wrong & broken. Just as I think people who like McDonald’s are broken, and the list can go on. May as well let Molson Coors run a Carling bar in the festival. I had a handful of “dull” beers, but only one that I thought was “broken” — rotten egg gas & TCP just doesn’t belong in a 3.8% light brown English bitter. That’s all I’ll say about not-great beer, on with the great!
I did my best to “untappd” all my beers at the festival, though did end up having to catch-up a few the following days. The great advantage of this is I have a good record of what I drank and even the occasional note if there was something distinctive about it. One clear fact is that this year GBBF was actually a “real ale” festival for me, with a peppering of foreigners sneaking in. This resulted from the combination of the company I was keeping for most of the festival, and a current “research” interest in the cask ales — I’m buying for the Letchworth Beer Festival this year (as I did last year). This “research” was productive, I ended up dumping a couple of beers from the list because I thought they just weren’t up to scratch, and adding a couple because they really did stand out (or I met the brewer — it helps!)
My notable beers of the festival, in order of imbibance, were:
My first Sandstone beer. After following the ever critical & acerbic James B on twitter for some time I’m glad I’ve finally had a chance to try his beer, and that it was good! I do hope I get a chance to try some more sometime. I’ve tried to find a source for our beer festivals but no luck, so far… short of driving it myself. (I like Wales, so it is definitely an option.)
A beer and a memory! On my Hardknott beer collection trips to Cumbria I normally stop up there for a couple of days of hillwalking. One March (last year I think) we camped at Wasdale Head and did a great Scafell loop. However the night was too cold, it hit -7C, too cold for me even (need better sleeping bags). Thus we spent the next two nights in Nether Wasdale, at the Strands Inn. Home of the T’Errmmm-inator. It was a great place. Hearty food of excellent quality and a great range of beer brewed on-site. The owners and the brewer, especially, were good for a chat too. I liked it so much I blogged it.
The beer was as good as the memory. A rich & unctuous stout.
I now think of this as Pete-beer. Nothing sets in the memory like the landlord of one of your favourite pubs rubbing your freshly shaved head.
This was on cask, and to be honest I don’t think it was better off for it. Thick, rich, sticky – it needed to be colder, and possibly fizzier.
Still a bloody fantastic beer though. If I didn’t know it in its usual form I’d not be complaining at all.
Hey, the big(ger) guys are catching on… maybe it is just because Punk IPA is being brewed at the brewery, or perhaps it is just the sands of time. This is a really good IPA offering. Fresh and hoppy, and crisp in what I’m thinking of as the “UKIPA” style.
I tried this both with and without sparkler and in my opinion the sparkler did it no good at all. The beer felt and tasted kind of “squashed”.
A “research beer” as I have it on my Letchworth Beer Festival list. Overall I recall ginger being dominant, and the beer being a little “rough around the edges”. But I think that given another month and a half it might smooth out. I certainly look forward to finding out. Enjoyable ale and firmly staying on my list.
I’ve been following the Project Venus beers since the start. I haven’t managed to try all of them, but I’ve had most. I ensured we had two previous ones at our festivals but I think my favourite has been the Venus Jade which I found in a local pub.
Aussie! Aussie! Aussie! Well, I just had to try something from “home” (even if it is the wrong side of the country). Came through very pineapple-y and a tad thin. I took a bottle home and it was much better (less thin) in isolation, but still tasted a bit like those pineapple sweets.
I was chatting to the brewer… so I just had to, didn’t I. Pity it was a 650ml bomber and I had to drink the lot! (Me being “between friends” at that stage, and the Ska Brewing dude being well stocked already.)
This is, in my limited experience, your typical US-DIPA — loads of caramel “balanced” (countered?) with loads of hops. It works. This is a great example of it working. However, I expect that I, with my not-really-at-all-sweet-tooth, will just never appreciate heavy use of crystal malt.
I find the strong UK-IPAs coming out at the moment are generally avoiding this heavy caramel. We’re seeing more crisp, dry, and sometimes even white-wine vinous finishes to strong IPAs here. Personally I think we’re better off for it.
Cask! Finally! I first tried this at Melissa Cole & Mark Poynton’s beer-and-food matched degaustation at Alimentum in Cambridge. I loved it on the night and promptly ordered 12 bottled from Beer Ritz. The bottles were a little disappointing, but only due to them having far too much condition. We’ve enjoyed them regardless and even used a few for a very tasty beer-and-beetroot punch!
On cask at GBBF this beer was at its best. A word: sublime.
Another larger brewery (albeit their new “craft” brewery) with a UKIPA! And another good one too. Nothing in your face, very well balanced. I’ve not really rated Brains as being of much interested until now… but I’ll be looking out for their “craft” productions in future. This particular ale is highly repeatable (perhaps a little too repeatable for the ABV).
This was another for the sparkler challenge. In this case the beer was better WITH the sparkler.
Close your eyes. Conjure up a scent — the scent of sawing through a pine sleeper. That is the dominant flavour in this beer. It is incredibly odd, yet intriguing. I’d probably not be able to handle more than a pint, but I can see some amazing uses for something like this in food pairings!
OMG! Always a favourite. This is MY style of beer. Imperial Stout in Wood.
Most memorable name of the festival? Alas the beer didn’t work well either with or without sparkler. The girl who served me said it was really designed to be on keg. Yes, I think this is what the beer needed. Otherwise it was just kind of flat and thick. I want to find it on keg now.
If a stout can be a black IPA then an IPA can be a white stout!
This seems to be a pretty decent example of what I think of as a UK-IPA/Brit-IPA. The rave reviews I’ve heard are not far wrong, it is a good beer. Rich and far more hop-forward on cask than the bottle I had a couple of months ago. I found the bottled version I’ve had just a tad on the cloying side.
A fitting end to GBBF! I just wish I’d not missed the whisky cask versions.
Beer, Beer, Beer!