The 26th Oldham Beer Festival 2014

This is a review for the 26th Oldham beer festival.

I went on April the 4th 2014, there  is still time to go as it’s still open till 10.30pm tonight.

This was my first time attending this event, it being quite hard to get to and from Oldham, plus its Oldham.

The event took place at the Queen Elizabeth Hall, near the bus station.

A large a spacious hall, with a large ales bar and one cider and one foreign beer bar tucked up at the side.

Plenty of seating and entry fee of up to £5, with applicable discounts, this got you your glass and your programme, the glass was refundable.

Food

Good stodge on sale here; curries, pie & peas, black pudding and peas, nothing more than £3.

No stew or anything, but a most painfully obviously good fodder that is the baked potato – with whatever toppings you wished for.

Why had I never considered baked potatoes being a must a beer festival, they are my staple at music festival, every festival should be able to do them and have them on (posh or “dirty” them up if you must make them hip and sell them at £5+).

What I was left feeling when I woke this morning was how professional and smooth everything seemed to go.

Granted you’ve got your usual no-shows or not-ready beers that typically will always be one you’ve set your heart and tongue on, but in the main it reminded my a lot of the Bent & Bongs Beer Bash only on a larger scale, though this might just have been that the venue felt bigger.

I talked to a lot of people here, oddly. Probably because I was there over most of the full day you got to see the different variety of people who go at the different times of day.

A lot of talk was about the recent Manchester Beer Festival in the Velodrome, the reaction being generally positive, but most of the people I talked to had got there on the earlier days so hadn’t witnessed the mass of people and lack of beer the blighted its final hours.  The most negative comment I heard is that someone thought holding it at the Velodrome was “showing off.”

On to the beers…

Greenfield Brewery had provided a 5.2% Vanilla Stout which was a very good stout with only a subtle hint of vanilla that rose in the after taste but wasn’t to over bearing. A good stout.

Because I enjoyed it last time I decided to have another of the Cumbrian 5 Hop (5%) from Hawkshead Brewery. It’s basically how I wished every golden ale tasted like, which is why it wins awards and makes me start a sentence with because.

I decided to have the two brews that The Hop Studio had brought along. The 3.5% Dark Rose was a sweet mild, a near perfect session mild that isn’t as heavy as some others, and then there was the 5% Obsidian, a black IPA. I’ve said many times that black IPA’s mess with my head, being that I prefer the darker drinks but am not a massive fan of the IPA’s, despite my recent IPA kick. This black IPA was a good drink, but if I’m honest I wouldn’t say it was too IPA-ey. So a very good drink for what it was, but not for what it was described at, if that makes sense.

Irwell Works Brewery was the next beer reached for, a Costa Del Salford at 4.1%. A nice, simple, hoppy summer ale.

I’ve had both the Oat Mill Stout (5%) by Bollington Brewery and the DV8 Breakfast Stout (4.8%) from Deeply Vale Brewery many times before, which is my recommendation enough. Great Stouts.

Next up was a brown ale from Magic Rock Brewing called The Stooge (4%). Which shows that these guys can actually brew straight forward, low ABV beers to a very high quality. It’s the odd thing about Magic Rock, I tend to see them at every beer festival (CAMRA or otherwise), but when buying bottles it’s always and only the silly strong stuff that I find, and I admit I buy, because they know what they are doing.

Millstone Brewery did a citrusy and hoppy ale at 5% called True Grit which was quite agreeable with me (that me trying to find a different way of saying I enjoyed it).

Next up was an Elderflower and Honey pale ale by Ramsbottom Craft Brewery coming in at 4% and called Bumble’s Honeyed Ale. Very refreshing and not to heavy on the honey.

Finally, or rather the first drink I did actually have, was the Unite or Venus Unite (4%) by Wilson Potter Brewery, brewed with the help of local women (one of which I knew) and one that is half the team behind Bolton’s Great Ale Year Round, an micro-bar that I have no shame in mentioning because it’s very nice and is worth the trip to Bolton alone.

The Unite was very enjoyable, brewed as part of International Women’s Day. Darker than the golden ale it was described as, but none the less very good, light hops, would make a smashing session ale that could be enjoyed by all those old men who still can’t get it into their heads that if women work together, it doesn’t necessarily mean they are lesbians. At least they conceded that it doesn’t really make a difference and it is always about how good the beer is, so I think some progress may be happening in the clichéd and still rather ingrained views of certain older men.

So, once again thanks to all the volunteers and organisers, it was a most enjoyable time.

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3 thoughts on “The 26th Oldham Beer Festival 2014

  1. Surely Oldham has never been easier to get to now the Metrolink goes there, no? For me it used to take two or three buses from Bury, depending on which route I chose to attack it from, and then getting home late-ish was usually an issue as the bus used to deposit you in Middleton which is like some ghostly holding zone with nothing around it that looked hospitable.

    It’s interesting that you went yesterday, on Friday, as I would have been interested to know what you thought of Oldham tonight. I used to spend quite a bit of mid-week time there and could never work the place out as it looks set up like a student town, full of bars and clubs, but without the population to support it. Then I happened to go on a Saturday night. It was an eye-opener as the place was transformed and looked like a war zone with Police barricading the streets.

    Also the local drunks there, wandering the streets, are quite a horrific sight.

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