It was a busy week, and Friday night was the only opportunity to get to this year’s Winter Ale Festival in Colchester. I was at Google HQ the following day, and I’ve been busy today writing that visit up on another blog..
A winter ale festival is nirvana for me, featuring virtually wall to wall stouts and porters, and over a couple of hours the Essex Days Out made a noble effort to sample as many as possible!
We managed to nab seats on the stage of the Colchester Arts Centre, thereby standing (or sitting) on the exact spot that artists as varied as Count Arthur Strong, John Shuttleworth, The Blockheads, and Andy Parsons have recently entertained us. The Arts Centre is an old church, and it’s a great setting for music, comedy and beer festivals.
Every beer we tried was a winner, and these included Earl Soham’s ‘Sir Rogers Porter’ (‘black, full bodied and can be sweet’); Harwich Town’s ‘Redoubt Stout’ (‘full bodied traditional stout’) and a stronger 8%abv version – the ‘Imperial Redoubt Stout’; Mersea Island’s ‘Oyster Stout’ (‘smooth dark stout with real Mersea oysters’), Nethergate’s ‘Old Growler’ (‘award winning dark porter, amazingly easy to drink’) and the same beer but with coriander – ‘Umbel Magna’; and Shalford’s ‘Levelly Black’ (‘winter stout, dark malty and smooth’)
The tasting notes are from the Festival booklet, and are rather more sophisticated than ours, which generally ranged between ‘that is nice’ and ‘that is nice’. I finished off with the ‘Imperial Redoubt Stout’, which was strong (by eck it was strong) but eminently drinkable, which isn’t always the case with very strong beers. And to soak up all that beer, there was the hog roast, one without crackling, and one with double crackling please.
It’s a long wait to the 4th Colchester Winter Ale Festival, but there’s one shortly in Chelmsford, and at the end of February there is the 1st Chappel Winter Ale Festival, although this latter is ticket-only, so don’t turn up on the day!