The Absurdly Late Post About The 2014 Birmingham Beer Bash

Into the imaginary room I call my imaginary office, the location of which varies from week to week, my imaginary editor walks in…

“It’s been almost four weeks since the Bash and you’ve still not written a post about it yet. Your work rate on the blog has been distinctly lacking recently” he says.

“I’ve been busy”, I reply.

“Balderdash!”, he exclaims, “All you’ve been doing, when you haven’t been at work, is been lying on your back watching old episodes of The X Files, or drinking more beer. There’s been plenty of opportunities for you to write a blog post about the 2014 Birmingham Beer Bash, and besides, you found time to write a new Friday Pint post”

“Erm,” I hesitantly utter, knowing I have no come back.

“Well?” he asks in anticipation.

I sit at my netbook, wondering how to segue from a fictional conversation about my lack of professionalism with my imaginary editor into a descriptive account of the events of four weeks ago. Can I remember enough of the details to make it worthwhile. Do I have anything to say that hasn’t already been said before?

I should just jump into it, I think to myself. Start at the beginning and see what my memory comes up with. Is my trip out to Lye to visit The Windsor Castle, home of Sadlers Ales, to drink Mud City Stout relevant? In many ways it is.

You see, Lye is near Stourbridge, and one of the reasons I came up for the AFC Totton away match at Stourbridge was so that I could also visit The Windsor Castle and drink Mud City Stout. There was also a twissup in Birmingham that day, where I met a certain group of people.

I joined the set up for this year’s Bash on the Wednesday, helping out where I could. The fact that we seemed to have one of the hottest days of the year so far didn’t really make things enjoyable, but the end result made them worth it.

The heat caused a few issues over the weekend, which I only saw from across the way behind the bottle bar. Some of you may have seen me there. It was certainly good to see some familiar faces, and some less familiar ones.

One of the fun aspects of working the bottle bar for me was seeing how much I could bluff my way out of the fact that there was a large number of the beers on sale that I hadn’t tried. Fortunately, I was soon able to tell people that Beer A was selling well, or that Beer B tasted good (In the case of Sacre Brew’s Sirenia).

For me, what made this year’s bash better than last year’s bash was that I was able to get out and talk to people more. Last year I was stuck in the cash office for large amounts of time counting tokens and money. This year, it was Lisa that took on that soul destroying task, for which credit must be given (Those fresh trays don’t appear behind the tokens desk by magic you know).

I had many beers this year, though only a few stand out.

Wild Beer Shnoodlepip, which I missed out on last year, finally made sense of the hype it received after it seemed disappointing from the bottle I bought. (Having tried another bottle last weekend, it seems that Shnoodlepip is a beer that is far superior on draft to it’s bottled equivalent). Despite drinking a fair bit of Shnoodlepip, I do feel I didn’t have enough.

Siren Odyssey 01, was a glorious 12.4% imperial stout, which I found myself often returning to (for quality control purposes). At some point on Friday night, the idea (I can’t remember whether it was mine or Shaun’s) came to mix Shnoodlepip and Odyssey. The result, which actually worked rather well, was dubbed Shnoodlepipodyssey.


The other beers that I wish to mention, are the two squid ink beers.

The first one I tried was the Beer Bash/Hardknott collaboration “Squiddy”. You may have seen “Squiddy” walking around the Bash at a couple of points over the course of the Bash. If you didn’t, picture your worst nightmares made flesh, like the underwater imitator of Purple Rain era Prince. I feel kind of bad saying this about one of the Beer Bash collaborations, but I just didn’t enjoy Squiddy at all. It wasn’t really helped by the fact that it’s appearance seemed similar to murky puddle water. I’m all for not just judging a beer on its appearance, but in this case, it was hard not to be put off.

The other squid ink beer, which proved itself to be the “Marmite Beer of the Festival” was Bexar County’s Tinta De Sepia Con Miso Gose. I, myself, loved it, as did many others. There seemed to be just as many though, who couldn’t stand it. Of the many beers I tried this year, this is the one I’d like to try again.

On the Sunday, after two and a half days of set up, and two and a half days of people drinking beer, the whole thing was taken down. The after party this year was a much quieter, more relaxed affair than last year, with a constant (slow) flow of beer until the half full kegs we brought with us were empty.

I left town on the Monday, thinking in the back of my mind that, should there be another Bash next year (we don’t talk about next year), I should be around for the setup days that I missed this year and last year. Being part of the Birmingham Beer Bash has certainly been an enjoyable and rewarding experience, and I hope that it is something that runs for years to come.

If it does run again next year, I’ll be there. I’ll be there in future years too, if it runs, even if it means having to fly across from America each year.

If you’re reading this the day, or day after, it is posted, there’s a Beer, Blues and Bangers festival at The Platform Tavern in Southampton this weekend, starting on Thursday 21st August at 18:00, and running through the weekend (or until the beer runs out). I’ll be there Thursday, come and join me if you’re nearby.

If not, I’ll probably be writing something about it for this week’s Friday Pint. Until then, have a great weekend. (2888)

The Friday Pint #12 – This isn’t doing my job prospects any good

I’m back! In a pub! Writing a new Friday Pint post which is well overdue.

In some cases I have an excuse. Certainly two weeks ago I was busy selling people beer from the bottle bar at the Birmingham Beer Bash. In most cases though, the lack of post has been through to a combination of sheer laziness, and not really wanting to do anything resembling work outside of actual work (the thing I do to get money so I can buy beer and stuff).

The fact I’ve missed several Friday Pints after intending to return to a more weekly format this year doesn’t really bode well for me if I wanted to move into a job which involved writing regularly to a deadline. It may be the case that if you were to pay me to do this, I’d find a new found determination to get these things in on time. Alternatively, I could end up referring to the words of the late author, Douglas Adams, the ones about deadlines making a wooshing sound as they go past.

The thing with having not written a new post since early July, is that I’ve done several things which would be worthy of a blog post. In terms of local beer, I’ve visited and drunk beer from four breweries since my last post.

Vibrant Forest moved to their new premises in Lymington earlier this year, and have recently started opening up on Fridays and Saturdays for draught and bottle sales. It has always been my plan to write a more focused post on the new Vibrant Forest brewery. Hopefully I’ll manage to get down and do this before the year is through.

The Marlow Brewing Company, in Marlow is set in a nice location. I bought two litre bottles of beer from there, which were prepacked in clear pet bottles stored in a fridge. I’m not sure when they were packaged, which resulted in a voice in the back of my mind wondering what effects to the flavour there may have been. Personally, I didn’t really like the beers I bought from Marlow. They weren’t awful. They just weren’t to my taste.

Prior to the set up of the Beer Bash, I took the chance to head out to Lye and return once again to The Windsor Castle, home of Sadlers Ales. Those of you who have read previous entries about Sadlers by me, or indeed my twitter feed at certain points, will know that I have a particular fondness for Mud City Stout. Having had a couple of bad pints of it in The WIndsor Castle, I’m pleased to say that this time round it was tasting as good as it’s ever been, if not better.

Last, but not least, I finally made the trip up to Henley On Thames last weekend to visit the Lovibonds Brewery. I’ve tried a number of their beers before, and finally got to try Sour Grapes at the Beer Bash the week previously. This though, was a chance to try the full core range, and discover that Amber is the beer I’d choose to session drink if I had to. I left Lovibonds with a growler filled with Sour Grapes. It may have cost me £13 for just under two pints, but it was worth it.

As for now, I am currently sat writing this post in a Wetherspoons, the closest pub to my flat in Slough. I’m drinking a pint of Bingham’s Doodle Stout. It was an easy decision to make as a) Bingham’s are local. They’re based in Twyford, which is a short half hour train journey away, and b) Doodle Stout is one of my favourite beers that is easily available to me.

I did consider including the Beer Bash within this post, but I feel that such a thing requires it’s own separate little home. I’ll try and get that post written and up in the next few days. As for the near future, there’s apparently a tonne of beery stuff happening in London over the next week or so, with some “Great British Beer Festival”, at which a bunch of beer geeks will be going mad over some imported cask from Belgium or America.

If you can’t get to London though, or like me, don’t really want to travel into London, you can always pop down to Southampton for The Platform Tavern’s annual Blues and Booze festival over the bank holiday weekend. Apparently it now has sausages as well. It kicks off on the evening of Thursday 21st August. I’ll be there either then, or on the Friday.

Hopefully it won’t be too long before I write something again. Until then though, have a great weekend. (364)

Time is marching on…

If you’re anything like me, you may have been thinking “I’ll buy myself a ticket for that Beer Bash thing in Birmingham at the end of July this weekend”. The weekend passes, and still you haven’t bought that ticket.

Well I’ve got news for you, if that’s you, and you wanted to come to the Beer Bash on the Saturday afternoon. You’re too late! With the other sessions set to follow suit, don’t you think it’s time you actually bought a ticket?

If you need more convincing, you can listen to me read (or should that be ramble under the influence of alcohol?) through the beer list below. Alternatively, you can just be left with a single word.



The Friday Pint 3 #11 – More Mawsons

In the middle of the warehouse in Chiswick from where once many sporting events were beamed to the world, a solitary frame remains from the once full and lively Central Apparatus Room (or CAR for short). In it sits a router, too heavy for anyone to move (the question of how did they get it in it the first place comes to mind, but it is not one for today).

For myself, today is a day off. A day with which I decided a couple of weeks ago I would use to come to Chiswick for a few pints in The Mawson Arms, that pub on the corner by the Fuller’s Brewery. It soon came to my attention, that seperately, there were other people who had muted plans to pay a visit to the old workplace, and to the pub in the process. How many of them will end up here is yet to be seen. It is still “pre-lunchtime” as I type, whilst occasionally stopping to pick up the pint glass, sat to the right and slightly up from the netbook on which I’m writing.

In the glass is a beer brewed for the World Cup named Two Halves. It has that Fuller’s taste. It’s a taste that I didn’t really realise was there, but a few months after my last shift in Chiswick, and that time without having a Fuller’s pub on my doorstep, it’s a taste that is the sort of taste that once you take the first sip, you realise you’ve missed it. That being said though, as drinkable as Two Halves is, it’s far from being amongst my favourite Fuller’s beers, or amongst the ones I look forward to seeing again, like Spring Sprinter and Jack Frost.

Across from the table I am currently sat at is a window. Outside of that window, dozens, probably hundreds of cars depending on the length of the session, pass by on the A4, headed either towards London, or in the other direction to Richmond and the South, or the West on the A4. I always found there to be something theraputic about sitting in here, or the nearby George and Devonshire, and watching the world pass by. Inside the pub, everything feels like it has stopped, outside however, everything continues as it was. A siren wails as the veichle it’s attached to rushes to the emergency it’s been called to. Taxis drive holidaymakers to their hotels, or business men and women to their meetings. Lorries drive shipments to their destinations, and occasionally, people will walk past, some on their way inside, some on their way to another place altogether.

The first of a few people have arrived. In the name of social politeness, it seems like a good time to finish this post, and also finish this pint beside me. You now have less than a month to buy your Beer Bash tickets and book any travel and accomodation you may need. I shall remind you of this fact again next week, and every week until the festival has passed.

Until then, have a great weekend. (1572)

The Friday Pint 3 #10 – Back Again

I said at the start of the year that this year’s Friday Pint would focus mainly on local beer. As a result, it probably won’t surprise many of you who are regular readers of these posts that I am back in The Platform Tavern.

As I  currently write, I have beside me a half drunken pint of a new beer (to me at least) from the Dancing Man Brewery, a beer named “Respect Your Elders”. It’s not an undrinkable beer. Indeed there are many qualities to it which are rather nice, the tropical fruit aftertaste, for example. As an overall experience though, it’s the first new beer in quite sometime from here which hasn’t made me immediately want another. As I always try to point out whenever I’m not too keen on a beer though, your tastes will be different to mine. You may very well love this beer, so try it yourself and make your own mind up.

Also on the bar today is DNA, a brown ale brewed with marmalade which, along with Big Casino is my go to of the more regular brews when there isn’t a new brew to try.

On the subject of new brews, we are now just five weekends away from the second Birmingham Beer Bash. Tickets are available from the website now, a link to which you can find at the top of the sidebar to the right of this post. I had a quick runthrough of the announcements so far on the first Mixlr show (check the last Friday Pint for that). Over the next few weeks I’ll be aiming to record a few previews, similar to the preview posts I did last year, which I will also be doing again this year. I also hope to be able to do a show live from the Bash itself, talking to as many people as I can in the hour.

I now have a pint of the previously mentioned DNA beside me. It tastes as good as DNA does. In the restaurant part of the pub, a wedding party is going through the cake cutting part of things. It doesn’t seem like a bad place to have a wedding reception, though The Wool House seems like it will be even better.

On the subject of The Wool House, progression is being made. The kit is in storage, ready to be installed, and the end (or the beginning) is almost in sight. As soon as I know the opening date, I shall let you know. Alternatively, you can follow @dancingmanbrew on Twitter for more information.

Next week I shall be returning to Chiswick, for a long overdue return to The Mawson Arms. Until then, have a good weekend. (22090)

The Friday Pint 3 #9 – Wales

A couple of weeks ago (the second May Bank Holiday, if anyone wants me to be more exact), I spent a couple of days in Cardiff with my fiancee. Naturally, I took the opportunity to visit a few bars and in keeping with this year’s Friday Pint focus, drink some local beers. I also picked up a number of bottles, some of which I shall be covering in this post.

The first place we visited for a beer was The City Arms, a pub that I had visited before, though not since it’s redevelopment. When I last visted, The City Arms had (if memory serves right, it probably doesn’t) only around 3 or 4 cask pumps. Now it has at least double, plus a couple of keg lines serving beers from the Brain’s Craft Brewery range.

I like The City Arms for a number of reasons. For starters it has a good beer range, which should always be the case in any good pub, whether they stock one beer, or one hundred beers, if the quality is there, I’m already halfway to being won over. Secondly, it’s in the city centre, but it doesn’t feel like it. If you’re approaching it from the city centre’s main shopping area, the fact it’s situated at the end of a side street makes it feel slightly out of the main “hustle and bustle” (not that Cardiff really has “hustle and bustle”). Thirdly, it feels like a pub.

Which is more than can be said for the Urban Tap House, Tiny Rebel’s Cardiff bar, which is literally just across the road from The City Arms (and I use literally in it’s literal definition there). I like the Urban Tap House, and I really like Tiny Rebel’s beers, but if I had to choose between the two bars to spend an afternoon or evening, The City Arms would be the winner. If money was no object however, I would certainly be spending some of my time working through those fridges in the Urban Tap House.

One place which only came to my attention due to it’s twitter account saying it was playing Manics songs on the day of the band’s Cardiff show back at the end of March is The Gravity Station, a bottle shop/tasting bar not far from the Cineworld and Motopoint Arena.

The Gravity Bar is owned by The Waen Brewery, and has a good selection of Welsh beers available to buy in bottle, alongside some from further afield. There is also around 6 draft beers available to drink in the shop. It was from here that I bought most of the bottles I came home with. A few more were bought from Wally’s Delicatessen.

In Good Morning… tradition, I’m now going to open a few of those bottles and continue writing this post as I go along.

First up into the glass is Waen’s Landmark, a beer which instantly made a good impression as I lifted the glass to my mouth. The aroma is the kind of fruity aroma that I’ve not had from a beer in quite a while. Tastewise, the first thing I got was peach, then sherbert, before finally bitterness. After a few more mouthfuls, that good first impression has been followed by slight disappointment, as none have been as good as that first taste. That being said, Landmark is still a beer that I’d drink again.

Following the Landmark into the glass is another Waen beer, Janner’s Pride, described on the bottle as a “Conker coloured best bitter with hints of ginger and whiskey”. It’s the first time I’ve seen conker used as a colour reference. When held up to the light, I’d argue it’s lighter than a conker, yet without light shining through it, they could be onto something.

Aroma wise it certainly smells “brown”, if that makes sense. It has a mix of burnt and caramel malt aromas that sometimes feature in the more malt focused beers. Tastewise, so far, it is failing to live up to the promise of that bottle label description. I have a suspicion that had I not read that, and was trying this blind, that I might have a differing opinion to the one I have now.

Next I’m moving on to the Brain’s Craft Brewery range. I have two bottles that I’ll be opening, and tried a few more whilst in Cardiff. The first bottle for this post is Brabo, a Belgian style pale ale.

I have to say, I rather like this. It’s not something I’d drink a lot of, butit’s certainly something I’d drink and suggest others try. It’s also a beer that could be used to introduced new drinkers to a wider ranger of beer. There’s a light biscuity sweetness in the taste, which makes the beer rather moorish. (The beer was brewed with beer writer Des de Moor, so I suppose you could say it was Des de Moorish if you wanted to make cheap puns, which I don’t so I won’t, but the option is there).

The second Brain’s Craft Brewery beer is Bragging Rights, a braggat style beer. The beer is brewed with honey, nutmeg, coriander, black pepper, cloves, cinnamon and ginger, all of which combine to give a beer which is by far my favourite of the night so far. The sweetness of the honey makes this a beer that can easily be shared with people who are usually put off by the bitterness of other beers.

The only other braggat style beer I’m aware of, is the one brewed by the Blue Anchor in Helston Cornwall. It’s a style I rather like, and it’s one I’d reccomend to any beer drinker.

To hear what I thought about the last two beers I picked up from Wales (from The Celt Experience), you can listen to the first Mixlr show here

Show links

Birmingham Beer Bash

Boak and Bailey’s Blog

Ronald Pattinson’s Blog (3980)

The Somewhat Late Post Fulfilling A Couple Of Obligations

A while back I was offered (and eventually accepted) free beer, in exchange for a mention in a blog post. A few weeks ago, I wrote the following whilst in a pub, with the intention of posting it when I returned home later in the day.

I bought a bunch of beer from Wales when I was in Cardiff earlier this week, so expect that as a Friday Pint soon. Tickets for the Beer Bash are still on sale, and you should totally buy one, because that’s what awesome people do, and you are awesome, aren’t you?

Anyway, here’s the post…


Beer, the great lubricator of the mind, he types, as he sits, writing about himself whilst sat drinking a pint of Pilgrims Pale Ale in The Platform Tavern. In the near or perhaps distant future, a reader will take in his words, wondering why he has chosen to write the post in this way, and whether or not he’ll be able to continue referring to himself in the third person until the end of the post.

As a narrative voice, in this blog post about the experiences of a man they call Mr. David J, I would like to take you back a couple of months. David was offered a free case of beer, in exchange for mentioning The e-mail sat in his inbox until David also recieved an e-mail offering a free case of beer in exchange for mentioning (That fulfils my obligation right?). David had a thought. He could take both companies up on their offer, and use the experiences of the delivery, communication, and packaging, in s comparative blog post.

To start with, a brief comparison of online beer shops, and high street beer shops. Online Beer Shops can be great. They can offer a great selection of beers that otherwise wouldn’t be available to you. High street beer shops on the other hand, are often more limited in what they can offer, but what they can offer is an opportunity to study the products, and actually talk to people about them, people who could give you reccomendations based on personal experience, rather than the experience of an algorithm that remembers that people who bought Fenwick’s Mousetrapper also bought Perry Tate’s IPA.

One of my main deterrences from using online beer stores is the reliability of delivery companies. This is, some would say, not the fault or responsibility of the online retailer, however, if there were a significant number of issues with deliveries, the retailer would be hard pushed not to consider changing their choice of deliver.

In the case of, Lode seemed like a very nice guy to deal with, and the range and prices of the beers on the website seemed reasonably fair. The one thing that would put me off using the site to order some more beer, is the fact that the UK side of the delivery is handled by Yodel. A company who I have yet to actually recieve a delivery on the day I actually expect it.

Admittedly it would be unfair to place blame on Yodel or Lode due to the confusion that took place over which address to send the package to. Regardless of what mistakes were made, it’s still Yodel, and I still try to avoid Yodel where I can.

Moving onto a physical retailer, Bitter Virtue in Southampton is probably my go to shop for beer these days, especially as it’s a good source for local beers from breweries like Dancing Man, Vibrant Forest, and Bowman’s Ales. Compared to some other physical retailers, some of it’s prices can be slightly higher. This would matter if I was reguarly travelling to where other retailers were anyway, which at the moment, I’m not.

Despite it’s size, Bitter Virtue has an extensive beer list that continues to grow, and as it’s not in a trendy part of the beer world, it can often be possible to still pick up the sought after hyped beers (Unhuman Cannonball for example) without having to be hitting F5 at 8:30 on the day of release.

One shop that can fit into both physical and online retailer is Teign Cellars in Newton Abbot. Prior to heading down there for this years Maltings Festival, I looked at their website to see what they had. The prospect of Wild Beer’s Ninkasi Premier Cru at around £2 a bottle less than I would pay for it at Bitter Virtue appealed to me a lot..

I went to the Teign Cellars pub (on which the bottle shop is located, in fridges, down the steps to your left as you enter), expecting to find some there. I was out of luck. I bought some Modus Operandi and Sourdough anyway and sought about the best way of obtaining the beer I craved. (Ninkasi Premier Cru, for those who have yet to experience it, is like Ninkasi, only ten times better. For those who have yet to experience Ninkasi, it’s like your favourite beer, only ten times better).

I later discovered that I could have preordered what I wanted and collected it at the store, rather than have it delivered to me for the £9.95 (or however much it is, the point is, I could have avoided the delivery charge, making the beer cheaper. As it was, each bottle still worked out around 50p cheaper than Bitter Virtue).

The problem with the Teign Cellars online store, is that there are some bottles that are listed as being in stock, that were actually out of stock. To the companies credit, they did offer me alternatives, and the communication was adequate.

One problem I had with all three retailers, is that none of them offered me a tracking number by default. Lode of did tell me that as my delivery was seperate from the system, I didn’t recieve an e-mail informing me of my tracking number (which he supplied to me). Neither Beer52 or Teign Cellars supplied me with a tracking number.

Did I mention earlier how I’m hesitant to order beer online due to the reliability of some delivery companies?

Onto my fourth and fifth retailers of the post, Stirchley Wines and Cotteridge Wines. Two shops that are within walking (ten minutes) distance of each other, so really, if you’re visiing one, it’d be rude not to visit the other. It would be easy of me to lend bias towards Stirchley WInes and Krishan, given that he is one of the Birmingham Beer Bash team (Tickets to the festival now available from here), but really, I’d be letting you down if I didn’t tell you to visit both.

There are some beers that Cotteridge stock that Stirchley don’t, and vice versa. Likewise, there are some beers that are cheaper at Stirchley than they are at Cotteridge, and vice versa. With the two shops within close proximity, it makes sense to go between the two and try to get the best deal for yourself.

Last but not least, the other company who offered me free beer. Beer 52 isn’t an online store as such. It’s a subscription service that you can cancel at anytime.

I must admit, that I was skeptical when I first recieved the e-mail. Then I read around, and recieved the box, which contained 8 beers that I hadn’t tried before for just £24 including postage. The beers were well packaged, along with an A5 four page guide to each bottle, including details on the beer, the brewery, and what foods to pair it with.

If it wasn’t for the fact that I have to worry about being in when the delivery comes, Beer52’s service would be rather tempting to me. As it is, I probably won’t be subscribing anytime soon, but don’t let that put you off. £24 for a box of 8 beers is a rather reasonable price.

And so there it was. He finished his little review and returned back to the third person, having completely failed to maintain writing the post in the style throughout. Join us next time intrepid reader, when we shall be exploring the world of whatever happens between now and then, or maybe something else. and both sent me free beer in exchange for a mention on this blog. Visit them, don’t visit them, google them to see what others are saying. Have a nice weekend.


Edit: Since writing this post, I’ve been made aware that some people have been unhappy with the way that Beer52 is run, in particular when it comes to cancelling a subscription. As I was not part of the subscription process I can’t comment from personal experience, though it is easy to find other people’s complaints if you search around. (5836)

The Friday Pint 3 #8 – Drinking and Driving on the Kessel Run

I’ve probably misspelt Kessel Run, and you probably “fly the Kessel Run”, rather than drive it. Frankly, I don’t really care. I never did like Star Trek anyway, so quite why there’s a “Star Trek Day” this weekend, I don’t know.

Still, it would be an excuse to drink a can of Vulcan Ale, or Klingon Warnog, if you had one…

Closer to home (for me at least), the South Western Arms in St Denys are holding their beer festival this weekend. I went on Thursday night. There’s nothing quite as exciting as the beers on offer in Copenhagen this weekend, but that doesn’t mean there’s some mighty fine and tasty beers on offer.

I started with Dark Star’s Hophead, as I like Hophead, and finished with Bingham’s Vanilla Stout, as I seemed to recall liking the Vanilla Stout when I drank it from the bottle. Turns out I like it on cask too.

As for future times (assuming you are reading this before the events take place), Tickets for this year’s Birmingham Beer Bash are still on sale, you should go and buy one, or two, or a bunch… (5525)

The Friday Pint 3 #7 – Maltings Fest!

Last weekend, the annual Maltings Festival took place in Newton Abbot. I was there for three of the four sessions. What follows is the unedited text written during the Friday afternoon session…


As I sit here, writing this introduction to the blog post you are now reading, it is just approaching ten minutes past eleven, on Friday the 25th April. The second session of the Maltings Beer Festival in Newton Abbot is underway, and beside me I have two half pint glasses, filled with beers from the Quantock Brewery.

Quantock’s Wills Neck is the beer that recieved the honour of winning overall first prize in the SIBA southwest region competition, which was judged on the Thursday afternoon. As it sold out last night, whilst I was enjoying the beers from Rebel, Art Brew and Bristol Beer Factory, I have to try their beers without trying that.

The Nightjar, which came 3rd in the bitter category, seems like an okay, inoffensive bitter. To me there’s no wow factor, but it’s not undrinkable either. It’s a beer that sits in that vast middle category of existing. It’s a category that contains the beers that I’ll often know I’ve tried, but have no memory of what it’s like.  In comparison, White Hind seems much more like the sort of bitter I enjoy.. There’s a nice caramel note and sweetness that’s complemented well by  the bitterness. It’s unlikely I’ll be going back for more tomorrow, but over a session in a pub, I wouldn’t object to drinking a few.

The last Quantock beer for this session is named Ginger Cockney. It does have a ginger taste to it, though unlike other ginger beers I’ve tried, that taste fades all too quickly, leaving no hint or clue that you’ve just sipped a beer with ginger in it at all. In many ways, this can be seen as a good thing. The Ginger Beer that Brodies made a few years ago was nice, but the ginger was so strong that the beers that followed it were marred by the lingering gingerness.

(As an aside, “The Lingering Gingerness” seems like a good nickname for someone, if only I knew someone with ginger hair who stuck around a bit too long. )

The next brewery for today is the one that has had the least distance to travel, with their beers being brewed on the same site, thus making it perfect for this year’s Friday Pint focus of local beers. Teignworthy Brewery have four beers here today, Reel Ale, Amys Ale, Pippa’s Pint and Imperial Russian Porter, which came 1st in the Premium Strong Beer category.

For those wondering what the time is, it’s just gone ten to twelve. If you’re wondering what the time is where you are right now, I’m afraid I can’t help you with that. Do you not have a clock or watch you can look at? The device you’re using to read this should have the time on, unless someone has printed this out for you, or you have printed it out for yourself, and you are reading it elsewhere.  If you’re reading this in the far future, do they still have printers where you are? Have you cured cancer yet, or are you busy spending your money on developing time travel?

Back to beer, and cheese. Friday is market day in Newton Abbot, and so earlier I bought two pieces of cheese to consume alongside the many beers I’ll be drinking today. What were those cheeses you are probably thinking right now. I can’t remember their names, I would reply to you, but one, the one I am nibbling on right now, is made with ale and mustard.  I’m not a fan if I’m honest. I’ve had much nicer ale based cheeses, and much nicer mustard based ones.

As for the beer, I’ve kicked off the Teignworthys with Reel Ale. Either my nasal receptors have gone or it smells of nothing. The taste isn’t much either. It’s not an awful, undrinkable beer, but it doesn’t really inspire a string of poetic adjectives either.

It’s the turn of the two girls next, Pippa and Amy. Visually, they both look alike (Is there such a thing as a beer equivilent of racism?). Aromawise, they’re both very similar to the Reel Ale. (This isn’t boding well. I don’t mind beers of this style, but I’ve already had a number of bitters today, thankfully, I have the imperial russian stout to come next.).  Tastewise, my receptors are giving off a resounding “meh”. There are differences between the two, but after a string of bitters, be it in best, standard or premium form, I’m ready for something else now.

Whilst I  drink these two beers, I shall give you a description of what’s going on around me. I am in the tent outside, sat down at a table. I am one of those who got here early enough to claim a chair and table. Across from me are a couple who have travelled up from Plymouth. On the table next to us, a group of men, ranging from late 20s/early 30s to late 30s/early 40s have come prepared, with bread, fruit, pies, and crisps adoring the table. A constant flow of people ebb in and out of the tent, returning with beer or sometimes food from one of the two vans adjacent to the tent. A loud mumur fills the tent. Occasionally a laugh is heard. It’s difficult to focus in on one of the many conversations happening simultaneously. As I approach my third hour of my second session, I start to ponder what my third brewery of focus will be. Arbor and Moor are on the hitlist, then there’s Tavy, who’s Porter came 1st in it’s categpory, and 2nd overall.

After “finishing” the bitters, I’ve now moved on the the Imperial Russian Porter. A beer much more to my taste, and one that I’ve decided to accompany with some chocolate drops from Merry Berry Chocolates. The Ecuador and Costa Rica go rather well with a dark 10.5% beer. The beer is my favourite of the day so far. This is probably unsurprising, given that imperial stouts and porters are one of my favourite styles of beer.

Where I am, right now at the time of writing, it’s approaching 13:30. Outside the tent a number of grey clouds are gathering over the festival, and a group of Morris Dancers are Morris Dancing, with crowds of people inexplicably watching them. On the table beside me now is a half of Tavy Best Bitter, and a half of Tavy Ideal Pale Ale. The best doesn’t seem too bad,. At the very least it’s not making me think “oh god, not another best bitter”. The Ideal Pale Ale seems like a nice beer, though the choice of hops clearly aren’t to my liking. It certainly makes a nice change to a run of bitters though. Outside it has started raining. The soft sotherners are all moving inside the tent, making it much more crowded. On the plus side, it will have stopped the morris dancers. It has certainly got a lot darker than it was when I arrived.

Having just stepped outside, I’m going to say it’s actually not that bad. Sure, it is raining, but it’s nowhere near as bad as it sounds. If the rain has done anything, it’s made the festival seem much more busier than it actually is. That murmur that was referred to earlier is somewhat louder. I now sit here drinking a mix of “proper” lemonade and sparkling water. An arguably much needed and required break following the nine beers I’ve just had. I have the porter left to try from Tavy Ales, and then, I think one more brewery before I call it a day at the festival and head towards the Teign Cellars.

Back to now (14:30 for those keeping record), and it’s the turn of Tavy Porter. A rather delightful beer that has provoked the return of the chocolate buttons purchased earlier. Chocolate and stout/porter go well together. Deliciously well. I will say that I’ve enjoyed the dark beers much more than I have the bitters today.

Brewery number seven of the weekend is Moor Beer, and I’ve started with the rather lovely Nor’hop. A beer in the Best category that I’m tempted to go back to. It’s tropical and fruity, but it’s not overtly strong in  flavour or bitterness. Something I found I wasn’t really enjoying last night. If anything, it’s nice to be drinking a pale bitter beer that I don’t feel like disposing of into the grass beside me, as I have done with a couple of the beers mentioned earlier within this post.

Outside it has stopped raining, and things certainly seem a lot brighter now.A number of people have returned to the outside world, making the tent and the maltings much easier to move around in. I’m finishing this session with Moor Beer’s Dark Alliance. A beer that appropriately has coffee in the description, as it also does in the taste. As I’m not a fan of coffee, it is much more likely that I’ll come across a beer like this that I won’t particuarly enjoy than it is one that I will. This is a beer that falls into the former category. For people who do enjoy coffee, I can see this being a beer that they would enjoy, but for a non coffee lover like me, it’s a poor end to a session full of average beers.

As for now I’m going to walk up to the Teign Cellars and load my bag with cheap (compared to Bitter Virtue) Wild Beer Ninkasi and other such beer. I’ll be back here tomorrow, to finish off the Moor and drink whatever else takes my fancy.


So that was Friday. I didn’t end up buying the Ninkasi (I have since mail ordered it though, along with some others).

A few points to note surrounding upcoming events. The Rockstone’s Cider Festival, which was scheduled to be held last weekend is now scheduled to be held at the end of May (30th May – 1st June).

This weekend in Southampton sees the South Western Arms (right next to St Denys station, and about a 10-15 minute walk to/from The Butchers Hook) hold their May Bank Holiday Beer Festival, from Friday 2nd to Sunday 4th May.

That’s your lot for this week. Please return in the future, at some point, even if it’s just as a brain transported into a spiderlike robot. I’d prefer it if it were sooner though.

Thank you for reading. (5017)

The Wool House – Southampton’s Soon-to-be Latest Pub!

Southampton is getting a new pub!

As posted on the Platform Tavern’s Facebook page approximately two hours ago, a panel of six councilors voted unamiously in favour of Dancing Man Brewery’s plans for The Wool House building.

They hope to open doors at some point in July. I’m hoping that it doesn’t clash with the Birmingham Beer Bash. If it does I’ll be making my way down at the first opportunity.

Today is a good day for the people of Southampton. (2095)