A good day out, if slightly constrained due being there on a Tuesday. I mostly failed in my ambition of meeting up with fellow beer bloggers due to insufficient mingling but I did manage to catch up with Pete Brissenden for bit of brewing gossip.I was also woefully ill prepared with no tick list, despite the help of Mark. I just couldn't get excited about a list of foreign beer I'd never heard of. So I had to improvise.
As I was meeting the work people by the Belgian beer bar that seemed a good place to start. I've just made my first Saison beer so I had a Saison IV by Jandrain-Jandrenouille, because I've read good reports about it. It was very Orval like in its taste, which is a good thing, but at 6.5% ABV a bit strong for a first beer.As a day at a beer festival is a marathon not a sprint I decided to switch to a mild next and I perused the list of 300 Beers to Try Before You Die to make up for my lack of preparation. Sure enough there were some ticks from that to be had so I went for Cain's Dark Mild. It was nice enough but like most milds on the thin side.
Next I tracked down Holden's Black Country Bitter. This was a pale pleasant beer with the tang of Harvey's brewery taste to it. I always thought that was down to the yeast, by as I've also tasted a touch of Harvey's in Sambrook's beers now I'm not so sure.It was back to mild for the next one and I was pleased to find Mighty Oak Oscar Wilde Mild, one I've been after for a long time, and it was well worth the wait. I'd heard my friend Rob waxing lyrical about this beer when we were at Heriot-Watt and as milds are not normally my thing I wasn't convinced. But it really is an excellent beer with a rich full bodied taste.
As drinking the last three beers had brough me 1% closer to death I decided to go free style. One of my work mates spotted our closest rival Rother Valley had a beer on, so I thought I'd give it a go with a half of Level Best. It was a bit grainy but apparently it's usually better.Next I made an even bigger departure from my usual drinking by drinking a lager. Budweiser Kroužkovaný Ležák. I don't really like lager. No, not even the good ones. But I'd heard the unpasteruised version of Budveiser Budvar is something special so for the benefit of my beer education I tried it. And to my surprise it lived up to the hype. I was very pleasant with a touch of honey in the taste and if I saw it again I wouldn't say no to another.
The next thing that caught me eye was a beer made by someone that posts at Jim's. I didn't think much of it so I'll move swiftly on.By this point we'd linked up with a mate of the boss who was originally from Yorkshire. So we stopped at the Theakstons bar where I had a Lightfoot (which was boring) and everyone else had a Grouse beater, which was flavoured with blueberries. As Theakstons employ a cooper they could easily have barrel aged it and then by freeze distilling it they could have been edgy, innovative and quite possibly post modern. But they didn't so it was just crap.
Titanic Iceberg was my next choice and I definitely remember it was good stuff though I can't actually remember why, but one to watch out for next time.We were starting to flag now, despite pies and pork scratchings. As we drifted around we passed the American beer bar, home of many a beer with more hops than you can shake a stick at. It was a gruit, an unhopped ale, that caught my eye though. I've had a few goes at doing unhopped ales myself but this was the first commercial version I'd seen so I had to try it. It was slightly spicy and with a sweet worty taste. Quite similar to my attempts but still not as good as beer with hops in.
With work to get to the next day that was it for us and we poured ourselves home.