Cambridge Winter Ale Festival 2012

Today is the third and final day of the 16th Cambridge Winter Ale Festival. The festival takes place in the University Social Club on Mill Lane, with a great selection of over 100 beers and ciders available in both the upstairs main bar and downstairs back bar, including lots of locally-brewed ales. I went to the festival on Thursday and Friday – it’s a very popular event and was therefore packed out –  and am going back again today; there are a few beers I still want to try. Here is a run-down of some of the beers I have tried so far:

Hopshackle Flinders (when I was sitting under green lights!)

Hopshackle Flinders (when I was sitting under green lights!)

Hopshackle Flinders, 4.8% – A wonderfully light and hoppy straw-coloured ale full of flavour. Very tasty and moorish. Great brewery. More of their beers to follow..

Hopshackle Marillo, 3.8% – Another light and hoppy beer, but not as moorish as the Flinders but also not as strong. A dominant citrus taste and aroma. Very easy drinking.

Hopshackle Historic Porter, 4.8% – Mmmmm berries, lots of them. Berries and dark bitter chocolate. Beautiful.

Hopshackle Smoked Porter, 5.2% – Now we’re talking. Absolutely delicious, my beer of the festival so far. Like drinking an open fire – smooth, warming, smoky, comforting, chocolate (not bitter). Lovely.

Redemption Urban Dusk, 4.6% – Love this beer. Its caramel malt flavours shine through. Very smooth, quite smoky actually, and slight hop flavours present.

Redemption Big Chief, 5.5% – Hazy, but tasty. Golden/orange colour, tropical hops dominate – @pintsandpubs summed it up nicely when he said it was like drinking alcoholic lilt!

Mauldon’s Black Adder, 5.3% – ‘Ooooh’ was the noise that came out of my mouth when I took my first sip of this wonderful stout. Rich, bitter, nutty, full flavoured. Loved it.

Dark Star Milk Stout, 4.5% – Very very sweet and rich, lovely roast malt flavours. Lots of flavour.

Downton Chimera IPA, 6.8% – Strong tasting IPA, hoppy, rich and resinous with floral flavours. Tasty.

Downton Baltic Red, 4.2% – A chestnut coloured premium bitter that smells of sesame oil, and tasted of it too. Not in a particularly unpleasant way; just slightly unusual. Not sure if I enjoyed it or not.

Pictish Porter, 4.4% –  A very nice smoky flavour, but slightly thin in the mouth. Easy to knock back, if you want a porter you can just knock back. There was no comparison when I did a head to head with this and the Hopshackle Historic Porter. I prefer a richer flavour myself.

Blue Monkey BG Sips – Similar to the Hopshackle Marillo, but with a slightly fuller flavour and unidentified underlying fruit that I thought was perhaps pineapple..? Very smooth in the mouth. Tasty.

Big Chief, BG Sips & Historic Porter

Big Chief, BG Sips & Historic Porter (almost gone)

That’s it for now. Another great festival – well organised (new management this year as well) with friendly, helpful service. Off there again soon to try some more beers, hopefully the Rogue Chatoe OREgasmic from Oregon in the US will be on draft; one of my favourite breweries in the world. See you there maybe.

Published in: on January 21, 2012 at 11:08 am  Leave a Comment  
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The 38th Cambridge Beer Festival, 2011

The 38th Cambridge Beer Festival is now over, having run from 23rd – 28th May.  It was a great festival,  but unfortunately I was ill for a lot of it so couldn’t enjoy it as much as usual and couldn’t make it to all the sessions. Also, we didn’t get the weather we were promised, being chilly, grey and rainy for several sessions. I did see a bit of  sun when I was there, but typically the sunnier sessions generally happened to coincide with when I was too ill to go down. Drat.

Buntingford Bravo

Buntingford Bravo

Anyway, all that aside, it was good fun and well organised, with over 200 beers to choose from (plus ciders, perries, mead, wine, cheese, curry, chips, lots of giant hunks of bread, etc) and this year’s theme was the 70th anniversary of Sir Frank Whittle’s jet engine – the noise of the engine by the entrance could be heard firing up every now and again. It was also the 60th anniversary of Cambridge’s city status, so all this was reflected on the souvenir beer glasses.

I won’t talk about every beer I tried, so here are a select few:

Kernel and Redemption No. 2, 6% – A wonderful collaboration between these 2 innovative London brewers.  Full of USA hop flavours, resinous, intense. A very popular ale by all accounts and it didn’t take long to sell out. (Their No. 1 collaboration is a Strong Dark Mild, by the way, which wasn’t at the fest).

Redemption Hopspur, 4.5% – Lovely, like a weaker version of the No 2 but easier to knock back – a hop explosion with a dry hop flavour; reminds me of the wonderful Dry Hopped St Rogue Red by Rogue brewery from the US (check out my USA beers post).

Potbelly Crazy Daze, Tintagel Harbour Special and Redemption Hopspur

Potbelly Crazy Daze, Tintagel Harbour Special and Redemption Hopspur

Redemption Urban Dusk, 4.6% – I am loving this brewery. This is different to their other beers, no blast of American hops, but darker, vanilla/caramel and very smooth. Nice.

Time for more beer

Time for more beer

Tydd Steam Golden Kiwi, 4.1% – A lovely golden ale full of NZ hops, sharp but fruity. Great brewery.

Oakham Scarlet Macaw, 4.4% – Peachy. Quite literally. A new one from one of my favourite breweries, and it didn’t disappoint. Light, fruity, not full-on hoppy like many of their other beers but delicious.

Busy beer fest

Busy beer fest

Buntingford Bravo, 4% – I actually started the festival with this one – Buntingford is a fantastic brewery – and this pale beer was lovely, as expected. Bursting with sherbetty Bravo hops from the US, citrussy and very moorish.

Buntingford Charter Flight, 3.9% – I preferred the Bravo, but this was pleasant and light, creamy, malty with vanilla flavours.

Blue Monkey Ape Ale, 5.4% – An unusual taste, quite grassy, but very nice – dry and full of American hops.

Hopshackle Resination

Hopshackle Resination

Hopshackle Resination, 7% – One of the best beers on, this was actually my beer of the fest. Strong, resinous (funny, that, given its name), hoppy, spicy, intense. Wonderful, had to keep drinking it, and with that ABV it pretty much finished me off.

Other beers I enjoyed that are worth a mention are Humpty Dumpty Nord Atlantic, St Austell Endeavour, Mighty Oak Captain Bob, Milton Proteus, and Northcote Jiggle Juice. And a few I didn’t get on with were Great Orme Celtica (just a bit too lagery for me) and Milk Street Mermaid (too smoky, I poured it away).

All in all, it was a great fest, despite the illness and the rain. It’s just a shame that it couldn’t have been on next week instead, when I will (hopefully) be feeling much better, and when it’s supposed to be really hot and sunny, so they say. But then again, they are always saying that, aren’t they…

By the way, Cambridge Octoberfest is on 14th and 15th October 2011 – see you there.

Everybody out!

Everybody out!

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