Wednesday, 9 June 2010

Nick goes to Brigg Beer Festival

When writing about our meeting at the weekend Paul Bailey mentioned how he’d broken into the world of blogging as a guest blogger on this blog. Well I’m pleased to say that tonight the spotlight is on a new guest, Nick Boldock. Nick has sent this report in about his visit to the Brigg Beer Festival. Enjoy:

Brigg Beer Festival, 2010 (14/05/2010)

By Nick Boldock

The funny thing about beer festivals is that usually, inevitably, you end up drinking halves. Ordinarily this would be anathema to me; I actually believe that evolution has rendered man unable to properly hold a half pint glass, which can mean only one thing – God drinks pints. However, when faced with 34 cask ales (as was the case as we entered Brigg Beer Festival) then quite obviously, you need to get through as many different beers as possible... so halves it was then!

The festival venue was a mid-sized factory unit, coincidentally just across the road from where the local Sergeant’s Brewery used to stand until its closure in 1967. Fortunately, Sergeant’s Brigg Bitter (3.7%) has now been resurrected (and brewed to the original recipe) by the Louth-based Fulstow Brewery. It seemed only right and proper that it should be the first beer of the night to be supped. When in Rome and all that…

Very pleasant it was too, if easy-drinking copper session beers are your tipple of choice. My drinking buddy for the evening (let’s call him Mel, because that’s his name) had started with a similarly sessional beer in the shape of Dorset Brewing Co’s Harbour Master (3.6%), another one easy on the palate, if my brief sampling of Mel’s beer was to be believed.

Next up for me was Coach House Brewery’s Gunpowder Mild (3.8%), a corking black mouthful of berry-tinged roasted malt. Delicious. My companion at this point was looking disapprovingly at a glass of Fullers Seafarers (3.6%) and one taste of it showed me why. A great beer if you like a slight soapy aftertaste to your ale, but let’s be honest… you don’t.

Riverside Brewery’s Major (3.9%) was next into my glass whilst Mel entertained a Wadworth Henry’s Original IPA (3.6%). Both beers were excellent, the Major going down the gullet in no time with a definite “more please” hovering around in the back of my mind… the Wadworth beer, low in strength for an IPA, delivered a lot more flavour than you might expect from a three-six.

Onwards and upwards and it was on to the third Lincolnshire brewery of the evening for me by way of Newby Wyke’s Kingston Topaz (4.2%), an excellent hoppy golden ale with a welcoming citrus tang. Mel was indulging in an old favourite, Rudgate Viking (3.8%) which needs no introduction to the average real ale drinker, but never disappoints either – a reliable stalwart if ever there was one.

I was becoming quite enamoured with Lincolnshire beers by this point so I needed no persuasion to line up the Black Crow Stout (4.5%), from the North Hykeham-based Poachers Brewery, whilst Mel was chugging away on a Derby Brewing Co Admiral’s Choice (4.5%). The Black Crow was the best ale of the night for me – a dark, rich stout with luscious toffee flavours. Gorgeous. I could happily drink it all night. Unfortunately I was enjoying it so much I forgot to steal a gobful of the Admiral’s Choice, but hey, such is life...

Moving swiftly on, and out of Lincolnshire as I hit the Nottingham Brewery Dreadnought (4.5%), a hoppy ruby ale that again I could probably have supped all night, but for the competition. Mel, meanwhile, had gone from Admiral’s Choice to Nelson’s Revenge (4.5%) (by Norfolk brewer Woodforde). We kept moving with a Rebellion Mutiny (4.5%), actually not dissimilar to the Dreadnought as another full-bodied ruby ale. Good stuff once more.

Things floundered slightly with the Milestone Crusader (4.4%) which just wasn’t to my taste at all – I can’t help feeling the slightly odd smell it carried was all too reminiscent of the odour emanating from the gents toilets. Anyway, fortunately my drinking buddy quite liked it so we did a swap and I drank his just-bought Thwaites Lancaster Bomber (4.4%) instead. Lancaster Bomber is one of those beers where you forget how nice it can be, with its subtle caramel tones and deep copper colouring. I enjoyed it more than I thought I would.

We signed off from the festival with Dictators (4.7%) from the Mexborough-based Concertina Brewery. Well, I did – my companion refused on principal to drink anything brewed in Mexborough. It really is a long story... anyway, it was his loss as it was a very fine beer indeed.

Leaving the festival at its too-early closing time of 11pm, we moved on to local real ale pub The Yarborough Hunt (run by the Tom Wood’s brewery) for a swift night cap or two. Shepherd Neame’s seasonal brew Dragonfire (4.5%) went down a treat, though the Derventio Chariot (4.3%) was, it has to be said, decidedly average.

Not the best pint to finish the night on then, but all the same it capped off what had been a superb night at Brigg Beer Festival – I look forward to returning next year, but one thing I would say to the organisers is… please, please, please can we have some tasting notes next time?


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