I ended last year’s real ale review of the year blog about the very, very cold 1st Winter Ale Festival with a plea for warmer weather for the next one. Well, the beers gods looked down on us this year, although by the end of the evening it was raining. Fortunately, with the festival (unlike the summer one) confined to one enclosed train shed, we laughed in the face of the precipitation.
The Friday evening sessions runs from 6pm – 11pm, and whilst I am sure there were many there for the night, we limited ourselves to a couple of hours and a very restrained four half-pints. There was a wide range of beer on, a lot of regional beers, but also a number from Scotland, from breweries in Aviemore, Orkney Islands, Perth, Falkirk, Edinburgh, Strathaven, and Alloa.
First up was a half of ‘Punt Gun Porter’ from the Heacham brewery in Norfolk. At 5.9% abv it was quite strong, and went down a treat. Probably best to get that beer out of the way early on – it was difficult to say when stone cold sober.
However, and more challenging, name-wise, from Bartrams from Rougham in Suffolk, was ”Comrade Bill Bartrams Egalitarian Anti Imperialist Soviet Stout”. A very dark stout, and at 8% abv, one to be savoured rather than quaffed. Delicious.
I decided to ease back a bit on the next drink, from nearby Brentwood Brewery, their “Marvellous Maple Mild”, was dark and mild, and only 3.7% abv – one that you could quaff all night. I was tempted by their ‘Chockwork Ginger Orange’, a variation on their ‘Chockwork Orange’ I’ve previously tried and enjoyed. But as the chances of coming across that drink in the future are reasonably high, I thought I’d try one from a bit further afield, but in fact only got as far as Alburgh in Norfolk, with Grain’s “Blackwood Stout”. At 5% abv a little less strong than the other stouts, and very, very tasty. It had a smoky tang to it, leaving you feeling that you had been drinking it in front of a crackling open log fire.
There was food provided – a pie, and pastie stall in the corner. I can recommend the venison and the game pies!
So, another short session at a beer festival. Roll on the next one. Which is the one at the Blue Boar in Maldon later today! Pix below