Monday, November 20, 2006

Beer Festival 2006

This was our third year at the beer festival and as usual some of us took a half day to enjoy more of what was on offer. As in previous years, there were over 50 beers available on the day and by my scoring sheet, I sampled 23 of them.

We set off on a moderate pace aiming for each half pint to last 30 minutes which worked until late afternoon when more friends turned up and things began to get a little hazy with each other swopping pints for tasting and recommending which beers to try next.

Having snuck in the day before to check out the facilities I overheard the judges annoucement on the top 3 beers at the event and it was my duty to decide whether or not I agreed with their decision.

Twenty-fours hours later, however, I had forgotten #3 but my first port of call was their #2 choice, the Strathaven Trumpeter - a "strong smooth dark ale with coffee and hop taste". I thought it was a good choice and marked it 4/5 which meant there had to be a better beer available - and I was determined to find it!

Ales, stouts and bitters were consumed as I worked my way around the four bars sampling their delights and the following beers all managed to score a worthy 4/5:

Beartown Ambeardextrous [Dark Mild]
Whitewater Nut Brown Ale [Brown Alw with mild hoppy undertones]
Messer's Maguires Plain Porter [A full-bodied porter with a hint of chocolate]
Shepherd Neame Late Red [Richly flavoured autumn hop all combining toffee and honey]
Bateman Salem Porter [Ruby black with liquorice aroma and hint of dandelion and burdock]

All worthy beers worth buying if you see them anywhere and ones to note down if you're there next year.

One of the best things about the festival is the rumours spreading about a new beer being opened and how you must sample it so as not to miss out. One of which was the judges #1 choice which had sold out the day before due to it's prominent status - the Crouch Vale Brewers Gold - a light and thirst quenching 2005/6 winner Beer of Britain. I necked what remained of my previous beer and queued up. Due to demand they were offering half pints only. It was indeed asuperior beer but I was sure there was something better and I scored it 4.5/5 - which still placed it first on my list and allowed a winner if I could only find it.

Solace came in the form of another new beer on the block - the Hop Back Stout. It was like drinking velvet. I was in stout heaven. If they had offered the keg I would have thrown my credit card at them. Ladies and gentlemen, we have a winner!

Happy and content I sat back and sipped at the beautiful beer. Everyone was in a cheery mood and once again it was a resounding success. If only the event ran twice a year I might have a chance at sampling it all.


Blogger Keith said...

That was a great festival. I hope they have something similar to it in New Zealand!

12:11 am  
Blogger Donovan said...

While I don't know of a fesival yet (though they surely do have quite a few festivals across the country), Monteith's is a decent beer. It's available in zesty lemon style Radler, kiln-roast hop style Celtic, honey-laced spiced Summer Ale, and a Winter brew also. It's quite nice.

10:22 am  

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