Bolton Beer Festival 2013

This event took place between 9th – 12th October 2013.

I went on the Thursday (10th) – the first of my ‘3 different beer festivals over 3 days’ quest. The Preamble can be found here.

It takes place on Bolton Rugby Club and raises funds for Bolton Lads & Girls Club.

Tokens were in sheets of £6 or £12, getting you 10 or 20 tokens respectively.  Individual tokens could also be purchased for those irritating little left overs.

It was £5 entry, which got you a nice glass and a very plush booklet, even featuring a description of difference beer types and a ‘How to taste beer section’.

The was a huge range of cask beers, along with draught and bottle beers from around the world.

The beers were organised in alphabetical order and also numbered, which helps both customer and server from any confusion over beer and brewery names.

The tokens are crossed out with markers, the measures were 1/2 and pint – though there was no actual 1/2 marker, which leads to so very generous servings, especially if some of the staff look like they are actual punters who’ve leapt over the bar to lend a hand.

The food is virtually non existent, the toilets are porta-cabins, the place itself is a massive tent, heated by things that look like they’ve fallen off something Tom Cruise would fly in a massively gay 80’s movie.

Beers in alphabetical order, of which many were local and a great many were Scottish:

Bank Top Brewery brought along a Sweeney’s (3.8%) which had the smell of brackish water but tasted perfectly fine for a standard bitter.

Blackedge Brewing Company had provided a new one of theirs to me, the Dark Rum (4.6%) a heavy stout, full of malts and liquorice flavour, but I didn’t detect any rum. Good stout either way.

This was in contrast to the Darkside Stout (4.6%) by Brightside Brewing which was your light kind of stout, almost like flat pop, with coffee and chocolate tastes. My kind of dark drink really.

Brewed Awakening (4.7%) by Cromarty Brewery was a massively coffee stout and I mean massive coffee.  The most coffeeiest stout I’ve ever had. Rather nice.

Harviestoun Brewery had brought a ‘craft beer’ called Schiehallion (4.8%) which had good, light hop flavour and was almost lager like.

Orkney Blast (6.0%) from Highland Brewing Co was a big drink, hopey and fruity, you knew what you were drinking was above average abv.

Slainte (4.3%) by Houston Brewery was my last drink of the night, and a nice simple ale to end the night.

Isle of Skye Brewery had brought along their ‘Supreme champion beer of Scotland’ in Cuillin Beast (4.7%) and a very good, smooth drink it was too.

When the number system pays off was with a Caer Edin Dark Ale (4.2%) the type font of the booklet made it even harder to read, by Kinneil Brew House which my notes say was ‘typcially celtic’. This is a positive term, even if it did smell odd.

A fine bit of strategy and the power of twitter came into its marketing own next. As I’d tweeted that I was at the Bolton Beer Bash, I picked up a follower Matt Holmes from Ramsbottom Craft Brewery, which basically made my mind up to chose, out of a list of 209 cask beers for the Chocolate Porter (4.4%). To be fair I would have gotten to it eventually solely based on the name, but this spurred me on more so and boy was it a good brew. Sweet, chocolatey – everything you’d want if you were a porter fan, even if you aren’t too keen on the chocolate flavour.

Spey Stout (5.4%) from Spey Valley was a toffee smelling but nicely bitter, lighter stout.

From Windswept Brewing Co was The Boy Who Cried Wolf (4.6%) a nice, fairly strong bitter.

And finally from XT Brewing Company came the XT13 Pacific Red (4.5%) which was actually my first beer of the night, but the closest barrel to the ticket stand. A red ale that my notes simply describe as “Good”.

Thanks to all the servers and organisers.

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3 thoughts on “Bolton Beer Festival 2013

  1. Thanks for the review. Sorry about the heaters – never really needed them before but as it was so cold thought we would get in touch with Tom!!!! Looking at different heaters next year for the quieter nights – wed and thur.
    Will pass on your comment about the food – though we have found what has been offered in the past as adequate enough for the event.
    Staff are volunteers – some are punters on other nights and volunteer their services on others – but some of them definitely couldn’t jump over the bar!!!!!!

    • Hello Clive,

      Please don’t take my comments about the heaters the wrong way – I’ve been to your beer festival many times and I can’t think of anything else that would heat a place like that.

      The food too is OK, I just would like to think you could make a better fist of things being more ‘local’ – lobby/stews and the like, rather than generic burgers and chips alone.

      All your staff were great, just some seemed a bit worse for wear, which is what I expect at any beer festival. Again please don’t see it as a negative comment.

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