Love Beer Festival 2013 (Chorlton, Manchester)

A review for the Love Beer Festival in Chorlton which is still on as I type.

Event takes place between 29 November – 1st December 2013.

Its clearly sign-posted from the Metrolink tram stop and should take you 5 minutes of your walking time, if you can resist going into Oddest before hand.

Love Beer Festival Itinerary
Love Beer Festival Itinerary

So you’ve got your glass, booklet and entry for £5, seems the glass was for a beer festival the Cricket Club held but I don’t know, nor do I really care.

Tokens are £5 a sheet, crossed off by the lovely people serving you; measure are pints and halves and also bottles (which I never got to).

This is Chorlton:

Chorlton
Chorlton

Chorlton is a happiness Dragon, he brought happiness to Wheelie World.

This is a review for the Love Beer Festival, which brought happiness to my cold, dead heart and freezing cold hands.

There was entertainment in the form of a male singing artist whose name I didn’t get and Adorah Johnson, both in fine voice with a good selection of own and cover material.

Food was provided by Streatza Pizza (wood baked pizza), VW Lullabelles (cakes by the camper van full) and Fire and Salt BBQ, who I procured a Pulled Pork sandwich with some BBQ beans. I was warned that on top of the chipolte they had added some Scotch Bonnets to the beans. I have Naga chillies in my house (and toilet paper in the freezer) so was not phased by any heat, but it was all very good for £7.

Upon entry I was told I was due a free (being an early attendee) half pint of Shindigger Pacific Pale Ale (4.5%) brewed by two fresh faced chaps who told me this was only the second batch they’d produced and a jolly good ale it was too, so ones to look out for.

Also new on the scene to me is Geipel Brewing. The beers are brewed in Gellioedd, North Wales care of mountain water direct from a bore-hole, head office is in Didsbury and the bloke behind it is from Ohio. I tried both the Zoigl (5.4%) a strong, malty amber ale and the Hefeweizen (5.6%) which was a damn fine wheat beer.

Before all this and while getting my first drink I was reliably informed by the staff that there were a couple of drinks not available, due to explosions, but there were still a vast array of beers to choose from, laid out in alphabetical order, showing the price per 1/2 and pint.  The staff had wrapped up warm in the main tent – a gazebo with the casks/kegs in a plethora of straw on the floor and hay bales to sit on (with the performers on one side).  Roomy it was, and quite cold, there was a bottle bars (Belgian and American brews) and and little bar selling First Chop Brewing Arm on keg that were inside and naturally these were fuller.

I had tweeted that this event had put the festival in beer festival; with its multiple tents and straw and wellie-wearing, triple layered, hoodie-adorned staff and punters, that was just my first impression.  A feeling of love and warmth (not from the weather) that you get when everyone is there all for the same thing (only with decent toilet facilities).  Sometimes you just can’t bank on the weather.  Right festival, wrong time of year?  That isn’t a negative, this was a very well organised festival and a glorious way to while away a few hours on a wet, dank and dark November evening.

The beers, in no order:

Black Jack Brewery have been a constant presence in my pub/festival life this year and Love Beer was no exception, there were two in the booklet of theirs that I had not tried.  Sadly the Pumpkin Saison was not there (this might have been one of the exploded ones).  But there was the Cluster (5.2%) – a good, robust IPA.

I tried the Engine Vein (4.2%) from the Cheshire Brew House and it was a satisfying best bitter.

I’ll now admit that every beer I’ve had from First Chop Brewing Arm (granted, yes, all in bottles; AVA, DOC, TEA) have never been to my tastes, too much hop for me, but I’m not one to write-off brewers based on bottled beers as there was a chance to try them from the barrel and there was a Black IPA in the form of SYL (6.2%) I jumped at the chance to try some.  It appears First Chop beers have a signature hoppiness to them, but I very much enjoyed this, and as there is the DUB and the JAC doing the rounds locally in Chorlton at the moment I figure if I get chance I’ll give them a go to.

Hornbeam had brought along the White Swan (4.6%) a lavender white beer which was excellent and I’d had previously before, somewhat ironically in Oddest, so I went for their Ginger Domination (5.5%) which was darker in coloured than I expected and I for one couldn’t taste the ginger (but this was after the chilli beans), but I’m not going to split hairs over what subtle tastes I can and can’t perceive, my palate isn’t that sensitive, but this was a good, dark ale either way.

Rapture (4.6%) by Magic Rock was very good.  A red beer that was very much in agreement with me.

All (most) of the Privateer beers were there as they were one of the official partners.  I’ve had them all and I’ve enjoyed them all, so I just thought I’d mentioned them in passing.

From Quantum Brewery I had the Elephant Hawk (6.2%) IPA, which certainly was a beast when it came to the hops (triple hopped) and it tasted somewhat thick, make of that what you will, not for me, but more to my tastes was the Lapsang Souchong Saison (6.4%) which was a beautifully crafted drink with the hint of the added tea. Great stuff.

Tatton Brewery had provided the Tatton Yeti (4.5%) a lovely winter ale, reminding me that as much as I dislike Xmas, tis the season for great beers, of which this was one.

Red Willow and BrewFirst (the Italians) had a collaboration on, no name, despite me pestering Red Willow’s Toby McKenzine on twitter about it (apologises for that) I think it was in the ball park of 6% and it was a very good lager-esque brew that I felt quite privileged to be drinking considering it wasn’t released yet.  Jump on it if you go.

Allgates, ah Allgates and their Mad Monk (7.1%) – I’ve actually had this in fudge form too which I got from the White Lion in Leigh sometime at the start of 2013.  This is a beast of an imperial stout, against my better judgement when I first had it, I got a pint and consequently fell asleep in the pub.  You know the kind of drunken snoozes where pub life continues to happen all around you and you realise you were asleep so try and listen in to a nearby conversation and chip in to make it seem like you were just ‘resting your eyes’.  Apparently chipping in with, or rather shouting “Dimitar Berbatov” only confirms everyone’s suspicions that you were asleep.  Find this and drink wisely.

Finally there were two beers from Brightside Brewing Co in the form of Spice (5.2%), a proper winter ale that warms the cockles and if I may be so crude, colours the burps so you can enjoy the many flavours a second time.  The Inn Crowd (3.8%) an excellent mild and possibly my favourite of the Love Beer Festival.

The festival is still on, so get down and pack the place out as the people involved in it are clearly in love with what they are trying to do.

Thanks to all the staff, food suppliers, venue people, artists and organisers.  Hopefully this can be a regular occurrence.

Peace and Love.

Boothstown Beer Festival (2nd)

This is a review for the 2nd, my 1st and hopefully annual, Boothstown Beer Festival.

As of writing this the event is still open, running from the 15th-16th November 2013.

Boothstown Itinerary
Boothstown Itinerary

Boothstown is a place that if you don’t live there then it is merely a place people drive through to get from the East Lancs. (A580) to the motorways (M60, M62, M602). Or when you’re a kid, its that place with all them big houses on ‘Millionaire’s Row’.

For me its a place where I had a rather dodgy curry experience and a rather hair raising driving experience when I was allowed out driving for the first time after passing my test.

It is now also the home of the personification of the simple, easy to use and even easier to have fun beer festival.

£5 entry gets you a lovely, simply pint glass.  Marked with full and half pint measures, a lovely poppy logo and a taxi rank number.

Beer tokens come in £5 sheets and are crossed off at the bar with marker pens, £3.20 is the most expensive pint.

The guide is simply laid out with an introduction and then split into ‘Amber’, ‘Golden’ and ‘Dark’ Ales with a separate Perry/Cider section.

With no tasting notes (which is a subject I’ve been meaning to cover for a while), just brew name, brewer name,  price (per pint), %ABV and the barrel sponsor.  The barrel flashes feature the exact same info should you forget your guide and I think the beer is arrange in alphabetical order (ish).

The food was a cheese and onion barm or sausage and onion roll (we are talking proper sausage here too) or a pork pie from a local butchers, glistening in jelly as proper pork pies should.  Hopefully there might be a bit more of a range next year, a good lobby perhaps?

In no particular order here are the beers I tried:

Allgates had brought along 3 beers, one of which was their Poppy (4.5%, 10p donation to Poppy appeal with each pint sold) was a very dark amber beer.  Indian pale in taste, with big hoppy flavours offset with a malty sweetness.

Thwaites Crafty Devil (4.3%) was another tasty, malty hoppy amber ale with a certain sweetness to it.

Liverpool Brewery had provided a 4.0% Pale which was just the right side of a hoppy golden ale for me to enjoy.  The kind of golden ale you drink it winter than makes you yearn for the summer.

4Ts Brewery also had a few brews and I tried their Red & Hoppy (4.9%) which you can just about see in the above picture.  Its redness is something to be hold as is its hoppiness, yes the clue was in the name.  The colour mixed with the flavour really did mess with my head, but in a good way and could be quite a dangerously drinkable beer.

Another Allgates beer to try was their Hung, Drawn & Portered (5.2%) it a fine dark Porter, smooth and rich and malty; what I want from a Porter with a distinct sweetness too.

Blackmere Brewery (Northern Brewing) next with a 5.0% Deep Dark Secret another smooth, dark ale with big coffee flavours and a hint of liquorice.

Greene King, them of the ever present Greene King IPA, or if you’re in Scotland Belhaven Best had brought along their 4.5% Porter called 1799 after their year of foundation and when it came out of the barrel in its dark and frothy ways I thought and was actually proved correct that it had an over-riding taste of an old fashioned Dandelion and Burdock, in a good way.

The Leyther (that’s Leigh for the uninitiated) brewery that is Urban Hop had brought along their Golden Jack (3.8%) which I had previously enjoyed in Manchester and this time I finally got to try their Black Jack (4.0%).  Finding this beer had been teasing my for a while, walking into pubs which had the pump clip on the wall, or even had their branded pint glasses or beer mats to drink and rest someone else brew from.  This was a smooth and if I’m honest too quickly neckable drink.  A session ale in dark form.

Finally we get to the Cheshire Brew House offering of Stormy Point, the reassuringly most expensive beer in the guide, by a whole 20p, because this beast was 6.7%.  The taste belies its strength, so this is another dangerously drinkable dark brew that should come with a disclaimer.  To me it also had a fruitiness to it too, kind of like the cherry (or strawberry) on top.

A small and perfectly formed beer festival, a live blues band provided the music too, which was far more entertaining that England’s performance against Chile that only a handful of people were watching.

Thanks to all the volunteers and the everybody else who put this all together.

It is all for a good cause too, so always remember them.

Lest We Forget.