Friday, 5 July 2013

Beer on the Wye 9

Last year, everyone who made it to the Beer Festival was watching the river, nervously, as it lapped just under the edge of the bank, and the interior of the beer tent was off limits to everyone except the heroic barstaff because of the thick mud.
This year - sunshine! and possibly the nicest day of the year.
I started off with something I knew was going to be good - Sara Hughes Ruby Mild - and while I sipped that I looked at the brochure to decide what I would have next. This year, I decided to take a little stool with me, which was slightly more civilised than sitting cross legged on the grass.
While I was perusing the beer list, I saw someone I knew - who just happens to be part of Jones the Brewers, a fairly new local brewery based in Whitney on Wye. After chatting to her, I had to try a half of Abigail's Party - and it was exceedingly good. A good summer beer, with a lot of hoppiness, and not overly strong at 3.8%.
After that, my eye was drawn to Donningtons BB from Upper Swell in Gloucestershire. When my ex-husband started drinking (quite a bit underage!) he remembered a hot summer's day in the Cotswolds somewhere, where he paid 2/- for a pint (that's 10p in today's money!). The brewery is housed in a 13thC watermill which is still in use today, and it was a little taste of summers gone by.
I was intending to gradually move to the stronger beers, but I ran out of time so I never did reach Jaipur from Thornbridge (which would have been a seriously hoppy end to the session), but I did try some of Orkney's Dark Island. The lady behind the bar said she didn't think it was quite up to it's usual standard, but it still went down pretty well.
Another beer I didn't get round to trying was the winner of the Festival this year, Caledonian from Edinburgh's Flying Scotsman (the runners up were both from local breweries). According to the tasting notes, it's a 4% malty brown beer with caramel and hints of roast, fruity sweetness - so there's one to look out for when the nights are drawing in!
I treat Beer on the Wye as a sort of trial run for the Great British Beer Festival in August (as well as a very pleasant day out in its own right), so I shall probably be looking for the Caledonian brewery there.

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