Tuesday 17 November 2015

Anglia Craft Brewers Real Ale Festival

The 4th annual showcase was held at The Victoria Inn, Colchester on the 7th November, billed as a festival of future champions, I don't think I am in a position to disagree with this statement.

There were 15 beers presented, covering a range of styles dispensed straight from both the cask and keg.

Entry to the festival was by ticket only, purchased in advance and limited to 100. 12 x 1/3 tasters plus some food was excellent value for £12.

In addition to the above there were 3 tutored tasting sessions, which one of my friends (Justin Mason @1970sBOY*) very kindly signed me up for prior to my arrival. Sessions 2 and 3 were well attended, and allowed me to sample all of the beers available, unfortunately session 1 took place before I got there.

The festival introduced me to a style of beer that I was originally completely unaware of - Braggot**, which hails from Cornwall. There were two versions of this beer on show, and both may have been true to style, but, they were not for me. Notes of honey, mead, medicine, as well as some apple sour flavours, simply confuse me, not sure I will revisit any time soon. Although with predictions of a hop shortage in the near future perhaps this style of beer might be brewed by more people.

There were a couple of hop bombs that stood out for me - HopHopHop @ 7.2% by Jon Wood and Something Hoppy @ 4.8% by Colin Miller. Still amazes me how these guys do this, perhaps the use of magic and ancient rituals?
HopHopHop was a rather wonderful India Pale Ale, using Summit, Cascade and Centennial hops (reading from official programme notes now) with great lingering bitterness. I managed to have this twice. My own notes "Hops! Big, chewy and balanced".
Something Hoppy is described as a stronger session golden ale, made with the birthday boy of malt - Marris Otter and hopped with German Brewers Gold. My notes - "Does what it says on the tin".

There were also two standout dark beers - Cherry Porter @ 5.5% by Colin Miller and Salamander @ 6% by Claire Barrett. Qudos to both of these brewers, Colin for being very consistent (I also enjoyed his offering last year, another dark beer) and Claire for sharing her first brew with all of us.
Cherry Porter was based on an old 1850 recipe, utilising real cherries as well as El Dorado hops. I definitely got cherry on the nose, lovely mouthfeel, with a bitter lingering finish.
Salamander is a chocolate chilli stout, using Marris Otter and Chocolate Malt mash, using Northern Brewer hops and home grown chilli's. The chilli chocolate is prevalent on both nose and palate with a lovely warming mouth feel finish.

All of the beers, whether to my tastes or not were well presented/made, and all were worth a try.
I have been to the last two home brew festivals hosted by the rather wonderful Victoria Inn (@victoriainncol) and will hopefully be at the next one.

Until next time, that's all folks! (Apart from the bits below).

*Justin, I am sure, will be sharing his thoughts on both the beers and brewers in the near future (some of whom he accosted sorry - interviewed), so, keep your eyes peeled for that blog.

**Braggot is a form of mead made with both honey and barley malt. It typically uses 1/3 or more malt and may have as much as 50% malt.
An ancient drink popular in medievial Europe, traditionally without hops. Chaucer and others wrote about the merits of Braggot, though its origins are much earlier as both mead and malt based drinks date back to ancient times.

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