Tuesday, 13 March 2012

Camra's Bristol Beer Festival

Here is a quick round up of the beers I tried at the opening night of Camra's Bristol Beer Festival (in alphabetical not tasted order). I'm no tasting expert, just a beer fan, so these are simply my impressions of the beers I tried. It's the first time they've held the event on a Thursday evening & it wasn't packed by any means, but there were enough there to ensure it didn't feel too lonely in Brunel's massive Old Station at Temple Meads. I suspect the Friday and Saturday evenings will be a lot less sedate...

The room was the original terminal station for the GWR railway. Designed by the great Isambard Kingdom Brunel, it was opened on 31 August 1840 to Bath and a year later to Paddington, with the Bristol and Exeter station being built a couple of years later at right angles to Brunel's. I love the interior, with it's huge roof and mock hammerbeams, designed to emulate Westminster Hall.

So, lets get down to business. The beer. The choice was stupendous, about 135 different beers and obviously I didn't try all of them or I would not be sat here writing this today, I would be throwing up somewhere in a gutter at the back of the station.

Here, then, is a quick rundown of the ones I did try. The glass you get when you come in is usefully lined (yay, lined glasses!!!) with pint, half and third measures, so I stuck to thirds on the basis I could try more beers. I also agreed with my companion that we would not try the same beers and taste each others to maximise the number of different beers we could try.

Chocolate Orange Stout from Amber in Wigan 4.0%
Yes - it really does taste like Terry's Chocolate Orange. Very yummy indeed although too sweet to drink more than a pint or ten.

Hop a Doodle Doo from Brewsters in Lincolnshire 4.3%
Ok, I'll admit that this was the last beer of the evening  - I was feeling a little tipsy and my tastebuds had taken a hammering. My tasting notes say 'jaunty'. I think it was nice.

Trade Winds from Cairngorm in Scotland 4.3%
I love this beer - I voted it my favourite beer of my Lands End to John o'Groats cycle ride. Lovely pale golden beer with lovely citrus and elderflower notes.

Ginger from Enville in Stourbridge 4.6%
Maybe I'm not very subtle but I like a ginger beer to really taste of ginger. This one doesn't. It was agreeable enough but lacked a punch.

Litehouse from Forge in Devon 4.3%
This was SIBA Champion South West in 2010 so hopes were high but I found it a bit flat and disappointing. Nice golden colour but tasted a bit - well - saggy and tired.

Windermere Pale from Hawkshead in Cumbria 3.5%
This was super - low gravity but not low flavour - fresh, hoppy taste and went down very well.

Wenlock Stout from Ironbridge in Shropshire 5.1%
A smashing stout this - very smooth. Malty without tasting burnt or bitter.

Riders on the Storm from Kelham Island in Sheffield 4.5%
Amber coloured, nice flavoured - can I taste orange in there somewhere?

Ginger from Marble in Manchester  4.5%
This is what I call a ginger beer! Strong ginger flavour and lots of bite. Liked it very much.

Oscar Wilde Mild from Mighty Oak in Essex 3.7%
Dark reddish beer with unusual flavours but rather overpowered by coffee which I wasn't terribly keen on - bit like drinking cold Nescafe.

Dark Island from Orkney in Scotland 4.6%
Consulting the beer index of Mud Sweat and Gears I see I tried the bottled version of this at John o'Groats. Dark beer with notes of chocolate, fruit and coffee but with none of the flavours overpowering the beer. Lovely. Easy to see why it's twice Champion Beer of Scotland.

Brewers Gold from Pictish in Lancashire 3.8%
Very fresh and fruity! Pale, hoppy beer which zings the taste buds.

Pure Gold from Purity in Warwickshire 3.8%
This beer apparently uses four different hops and two types of malt. Obviously used to good effect - a really quaffable beer at 3.8%.

Pure Ubu from Purity in Warwickshire 4.5%
Very tasty amber coloured brew wich is lovely to swill around the mouth. Pronounced caramel flavour.

Steam Spring from RCH in West Hewish 4.6%
Lovely, lovely fresh and zesty beer, one of my favourites of the evening. I cycled past the brewery the other day, I may call back and stock up on this one!

Blackberry Cascade from Saltaire in W Yorks 4.8%
I was expecting a reddish beer, in fact it is a blonde but with hints of blackberry and other fruits. Nice, fresh beer, lovely on a summer day in the pub garden.

Ginger Tosser from Skinners in Cornwall 3.8%
No ginger or anything else much in this one. The beer was flat (in flavour I mean) and didn't taste of anything much. Disappointing.

Cornwall's Pride from Tintagel in Cornwall 4.0%
Beautiful amber colour; this Cornish beer had plenty of rounded flavour and body.

Midnight Sun from Williams in Scotland 5.6%
I hadn't read the notes and expected a golden beer (cos of the reference to the sun), in fact it's a black, strong flavoured porter that packed a punch. Lots of malty, roasty, hoppy, gingery taste.

Old Trout from Worsthorne in Lancashire 4.5%
Middling colour, middling flavour. A reasonable session beer although it lacked any wow factor ,as far as I'm concerned.

Overall, a cracking choice of beers from across the country. I realised at the end of the evening that I had merely scratched the surface. I have much work to do if I'm going to try them all.

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