Halloween pubs and beer

Beer in the Blue

Halloween beers in the Cambridge Blue

There were plenty of scary beers and scary-looking people out last night around Cambridge on our mini Halloween pub crawl. It was good to see that so many pubs had embraced the fright night theme, with bar staff dressed up in their most terrifying costumes, and beers having suitably gruesome names and pump clips.

First stop was the Cambridge Blue, which was fantastically decorated for Halloween as usual. The marquee was decked out for a children’s Halloween party, and there were lots of costumed kids filtering through the pub, broomsticks and all, as we enjoyed our beers. Köstritzer Six out of the 14 cask beers were Halloween themed, with ales such as Brains Open Casket, Hales Brewing Black Heart, Wolf Brewery Werewolf, and Hop & Soul Pumpkin on draught. I went for a Cameron’s Thirst Blood, a tasty ruby ale with caramel and dark fruit flavours. Hales Black Heart was really nice, a black IPA which thankfully wasn’t too hoppy (I have a bit of a love-hate relationship with this style) and with the flavour and aroma of roasted coffee beans. I also went for a Köstrizer on keg, I really like this smooth and chocolatey German black lager.

Next stop was the Blue Moon, the sister pub to the Blue. Again, this was decorated for the season, with a party (adults this time) taking place later that evening. We got a Tiny Rebel Cwtch (that’s not a typo; it’s Welsh for hug) and a Castle Rock Most Haunted, and ended up sitting in the middle of a literary group doing an open mic, where one guy was reading excerpts from Dracula – very apt. The Most Haunted was a pumpkin porter, dark with lots of clove flavours, but not too overwhelming. The Cwtch was as good as all the other Tiny Rebel beers I’ve tried – an amber beer bursting with tropical hops, and served freezing cold from the keg. Lovely.

Elm Tree bar staffThe Elm Tree was the next pub en route, and this pub is always well decorated for Halloween, with witches hats attached to the ceiling alongside giant spiders, and pumpkin lights and tinsel everywhere – these decs are put up a good week or two before the day itself. The bar staff were well dressed for the occasion too. We went for Belgian beer, despite the 10 hand pumps – the smooth caramel flavours of St Bernardus Pater 6 goes well with this time of year.

Free Press pumpkinLast up was the Free Press, which had a wonderful big pumpkin on the bar with lovely pop out eyes and big wide mouth with a pipe hanging out, and a mop head for hair – fantastic. We had some bottles of Rogue Dead Guy, a great beer from one of my favourite US breweries – lots of spicy caramel flavours and hop fruitiness. It’s quite a strong one at 6.6%, so after a couple of those it was time to call it a night.

It was great to see so many pubs making the effort for Halloween, one of my favourite times of year. I guess we’ll be drinking plenty of fright night themed beers over the next week in the pubs – but then it won’t be long until the festive beers start appearing! Happy Halloween/Samhain!

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Cambridge Octoberfest 2010

My Octoberfest did not involve me drinking any German beers.  Let’s get that straight from the start.  Do I feel bad about that? Maybe, a little. But to be perfectly honest I don’t enjoy drinking lager style beers, so however tasty some may find German Octoberfest beers,  I just prefer ale. So read on if you want to hear about a few incredibly tasty English ales present at the Cambridge Octoberfest, but if you are looking for a review on Schlenkerla Marzen or Augustinian beers, then you have come to the wrong place. Sorry.

Onto the Octoberfest, held at the University Social Club on Mill Lane. The event held on 15th and 16th October was not as big as the Winter Ale fest, held in the same venue; it’s small and intimate, and there were about 30 beers available which is pretty good, I think.

Octoberfest beers

First up was Buntingford’s Polar Star, a lovely light and very hoppy golden beer at 4.4%. This beer was a wonderful way to start the afternoon, with its sherbet hop aroma, thanks to the lovely USA hops used, making it very very drinkable.  Next I tried Milton’s Prometheus, but although this was very nice, grapefruity and strong at 6%, I decided to go for another Buntingford, the Imperial Pale Ale. I can’t remember if I have raved about this beer before, but if not, why not?  It’s amazing, incredible, hoppy, and strong, at 6.2%.  I actually had this beer at the Cambridge Blue’s Octoberfest the previous week, and this was the beer of the fest for me.

The next beer was Hop Fest (4.6%) by Hop Back. I was disappointed by this beer, particulary as I am a fan of their Summer Lightning.  It was eggy, astringent, and not quite the ‘hop fest’ that I was hoping for. I don’t actually remember tasting  many hops at all. The aroma put me off immediately, and the guys on the table next to us also bought some and they felt the same way about it. What a shame.

Then I had some lovely Tydd Steam Barn Ale at only 3.9%. Ooh a wonderful beer to finish off with – similar to the Polar Star; light, hoppy, citrussy, and very moorish.

Whilst I am talking about Octoberfest beers, I must add that on a trip to the wonderful Elm Tree, I had some Dark Star Oktoberfest, 5.2%, which was incredible, loaded with hops. Fantastic.  I will also be popping by at the end of the month for Hallowe’en, they do a great job decorating the pub with pumpkins and witches and bats everywhere. I think there will be scary stories too from the Travelling Talesman too on Hallowe’en itself. And most certainly there will be a good few Hallowe’en-themed beers on tap too.

The Cambridge Winter Ale fest is on 20th-22th January 2011 at the same venue. See you there – I’ll be the one drinking the hoppiest beer in the building.

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