- Winter Warmers
- Christmas ales
- Old ales
It was going to be a dark night.
Disturbingly when we arrived there were morris men dancing inside the pub, and for some reason they'd painted their faces black. Now it's bad enough having morris men outside a pub, inside the pub is even worse and when they're done up like black and white minstrels there really ought to be a law against it. Fortunately they were just finishing so didn't disturb our drinking too much.
Our first beer of the day was one of the lovely Lisa's favourites: Coniston Old Man. At 4.1% ABV it was a gentle introduction to the day's debauchery. Free programmes were available, which was handy, so we were able to get on with some serious plotting whilst sipping our first half. Purple Moose's Dark Side of the Moose, another favourite, was on in the side room or the Coach House bar as it was rather grandly styled. It took us two attempt to buy the beer as the first time we were driven out by someone dumping their guts. Bastard. Bring back smoking that's what I say, then you never noticed the flatulent bastards. The Purple Moose beer was worth it in the end, though perhaps a little astringent for my taste.
Having read about the Sharp's Massive Ale with added wild yeast I had to give that a go next, but I wasn't overwhelmed. At an intimidating 10% ABV I was expecting something a bit, well, massive, but though it was a pleasant enough barley wine it didn't really taste massive. I thought Howard Town's Dark Peak, at a slightly more sensible 6.4%, had a lot more flavour, in fact in some ways it reminded me of something with rum or whisky added.
Unusually for a beer festival the programme included a list of keg beers. I would normally dismiss such an anomaly out of hand, but as I have it on good authority that a craft keg revolution is sweeping the UK I thought it warranted further investigation. None of the keg beers were actually brewed in Britain though, which sadly made it look like another failed revolution. Still, I did get to try some craft keg during the day, as we managed to find seats upstairs where there was only a limited selection of beers on offer. My friend Dan (you didn't think I was going to buy it did you?) got a pint of Sierra Nevada Porter (5.8% ABV). Alas, this was not a whole new dimension of quality beer opening up to me, as it was too cold and almost devoid of flavour. And that's not just from me, that's what Dan thought and he was drinking a pint of lager when we arrived at the pub so I think it's fair to say is not much influenced by CAMRA.
We did have some other beers, but funnily enough none stand out like the one we found on the way home. Waiting for a tube at Putney Bridge we saw what can only be the charitable work of CAMCL. On the bench opposite us was a unopened can of Carling. Being more than half cut I grabbed it immediately, I mean it may be shite but free beer is free beer. But then I thought of the poor thirsty tramps out there and I put it back. I would like to say this gave me a warm glow but it was so bloody freezing I didn't notice anything. I do hope whoever found the can enjoyed it though, as I'm sure it would have been wasted on me, and I was wasted enough already.