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 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.