Festivals for Beers No.235 Exmoor Beast, No.236 Bluebird Bitter, No. 237 Dark Ruby Mild,  No.238 Dale’s Pale Ale, No.239 Fuller’s Golden Pride, No.240 Windsor and Eton Republika and No.241 Verdi Imperial Stout 

Festivals for Beers No.235 Exmoor Beast, No.236 Bluebird Bitter, No. 237 Dark Ruby Mild,  No.238 Dale’s Pale Ale, No.239 Fuller’s Golden Pride, No.240 Windsor and Eton Republika and No.241 Verdi Imperial Stout 

I love a festival. Whether it be beer, music, film or any other type, the word festival creates the same sense of excitement within me as the word buffet does.

I went to four relevant festivals last year, all very different from each other, 3 of which are already, or becoming a tradition I hope.

The first is the Chelmsford Beer Festival. I have been to this festival two years in a row and it really is one of the highlights of my year.20170705_165443

I go with Michael Wheeler and it’s a great day out.  The only problem with Chelmsford Beer Festival is that it’s in Chelmsford. It’s so close yet so annoying. The bus is £15 return and takes an hour or so which is ridiculous or you have to change at Shenfield if you’re getting a train which is a right ball ache as it seems to take ages on that platform.

It’s worth the rigmarole though, especially on a pleasant day. If you’ve never been to a beer festival before there’s quite a surprising amount of different people. Most people expect it to be a mixture of Detectorists, Saxondale and men in Iron Maiden T Shirts supping on a pint of best but it’s far more diverse than that. Of course those people are there but there’s also quite a lot of young people there and quite a few ladies. Though I suppose to be surprised by that is pretty prehistoric. 

Theres always great food available and some cover bands, it’s just really pleasurable. These festivals are only about a fiver to get in so I’d really suggest getting some mates down in the summer months for a lovely relaxing afternoon.

And of course there’s beer, and plenty of it. I always download the programme beforehand so I get a little heads up on what I am gonna get before I arrive. That’s just because I am a geek though. 20170705_155057

I was aware there was 3 beers from my list at this year’s festival so a pretty good haul. 

I started with Exmoor Beast from Exmoor Ales. This is a luxurious rich strong Porter. Lots of rum and raisin, and coffee coming through. At 6.6% it’s not the strongest Porter in the world but it’s certainly warming. A lovely beer I’m sure to sip on a winter evening. Not sure about it as the first pint in a sunny field though! 

My second was more in keeping for a sunny day. Coniston Bluebird Bitter is a pale with lots of Citrus. It won Champion Beer of Britain in 1998 and I have seen it used numerous times as examples of the style in various textbook. It was nice but I found it a little dated. 

The final beer from Chelmsford was Sarah Hughes Dark Ruby Mild. This is an older beer having been first brewed in 1921 and is a rare example of a strong mild. It was quite smoky with a little chocolate liquor. For all its history and how much I would liked to have liked it I wasn’t that impressed. 20170812_153445

Next up is a little music festival called Bandcamp hosted by Paul Noble and his lovely family. It gave me a chance to set up my first ever bar and I really enjoyed doing it. 

We preordered a couple of ghostship polypins and the rest I picked up from work or Bookers. 
It went really well and it was good fun dishing out the pints with the help of Pauls dad Keith, even if it is what I do every day. 

I made a bottle list up of world beers like every self-respecting festival bar should and of course I included a couple of beers from the list. 20170812_145344

To start, Dale’s Pale Ale. This is a lovely refreshing pale from Oskar Blues Brewery out of Colorado. It’s regularly revered as one of the finest examples of its type, with some pretty hard hitting juicy hops. It’s also cited as being the fore runner and one of the main advocate of putting craft in can. Up till this point canned beer was seen as the reserve of the big boys, Bud and whatnot whilst craft was more from the bottle in the old English/homebrewing style, how beer should be packaged. Dale changed all by pointing canning was better for the environment, more convenient and less chance of skunking. It’s a debate that has rattled on ever since and its getting hotter and hotter this side of the pond. 20170812_223117

I followed that with a Fuller’s Golden Pride. This is a great example of one my favourite styles of beer, barleywine. Always quite a strong style this example is no different coming in at 8.5%. It actually started as a 9% beer in 1967 but was reduced a little in the 80s.

A lovely beer deep and fruity, the historic Fuller’s have reinforced this style for me yet again. 

My second music festival of the year was on abit of a grander scale. End Of The Road, is a 4 day indie affair that I’ve been to 4 or 5 years in a row now and is always a great craic. They themselves always have a good selection of ales available and some made just for the festival. They also have a meet the brewer every morning and some guest speakers. This year I managed to catch Pete Brown who is a fantastic writer, and was very interesting to hear some of his anecdotes from his new book Miracle Brew. I was lucky enough to meet him afterwards and sign a copy of the book. Nerd checklist tick.

The festival has embraced the craft beer revolution too with Beavertown alloted their very own bar, which is cool but a pricey way  to spend a weekend with each can of 330ml costing around a fiver, so they soon add up in the sun. 

On the way there me and Noble like to stop off at a brewery for a pitstop. Last year we went to Hogsback which was very nice, and this year we went to Windsor & Eton with Leighton in tow and it was even better.20170831_144454 

Windsor itself is a lovely town just west of London. All very royal with the castle and what not and I have never seen as many swans in my life. 20170831_144311

The beer I was after from the little tap-room just a short walk from town was called Republika, which is quite an ironic title seeing its born in such a royal backdrop. 20170831_140008

It’s a beautiful Pilsner, how lager should be. A taste of Europe in middle England. Tasting this makes you wonder how we could have got so far from what lager is supposed to be when we see the bland few massive chains up and down the country. 20170831_140115

Finally the Pigs Ear Beer Festival at the Round Chapel in Hackney. This festival was held in a really sensational venue. Grade 2 listed church which is now an events hall, this remarkable building is beautiful to look at and, like many buildings in London, evokes such an amazing sense of history you feel privileged to be there. I went up there with Nick Elliot from my old work as a little farewell before he moved off to pastures new in the Balearics.


The festival itself was a pretty standard CAMRA affair and though they had many interesting cask offerings but as usual I was more interested in the world bottle bar.


There I found the final beer of this blog, Verdi Imperial Stout. 


This beer made in the village where the famous Italian composer was born helped launch the Italian craft beer movement. Its an Imperial Stout with the interesting addition of chilli peppers. I’m not sure it’s psychosomatic but it definitely felt warming to me, though this may have been due to the generous 8.5% ABV. Either way it’s an enjoyable Stout and a nice way to finish this blog.

So there we go, that’s festivals. If you have never been to a beer festival I really recommend you going. Like I mentioned earlier it’s hardly any money, £5 at the most, and it’s always a friendly, convivial atmosphere. Come along to the Chelmsford one and hopefully me and Michael will meet you there!








Beers No.116 Meantime London Stout, No.117 Meantime Coffee Porter, No.118 Meantime London Porter and No.119 Punk IPA

Beers No.116 Meantime London Stout, No.117 Meantime Coffee Porter, No.118 Meantime London Porter and No.119 Punk IPA

My friend Dan and I took a trip to the Meantime Brewery in Greenwich. On the way up I had a great walk. I got off the train at Limehouse and strolled along the Thames. The interesting thing is that as it’s the Isle Of Dogs and Canary Wharf it’s full of million pound apartments and flash cars. Yet at the same time it’s still Tower Hamlets so it’s well rough. I have seen this mix many times in London, especially with the regeneration the overground brings, but this was the most apparent. It felt like The Wire set in Manhattan. It was a great walk, I loved every step of it. Particularly the Greenwich foot tunnel which I didn’t even know existed, through to the Cutty Sark. The real Cutty Sark, not some dank boozer on the corner with green walls and brown carpet called the Cutty Sark, but the actual turn of the century clipper The Cutty Sark. I love London. I don’t go there enough.

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The Meantime Brewery itself is situated just a short stroll from Greenwich station, or Belushi’s which is where I met Dan.


It’s super cool. Everything shiny and new with hip young people working there. I must say  it was probably the best tour I have been on, and I would recommend anyone to go on it. Our guide was charismatic, interesting and engaging. We started in the tasting room which was a change to all other tours I have been on where we taste last, and I thought that it worked really well doing that way round. It gave our guide a chance to convey a little knowledge not just on the history of Meantime but the history of brewing in general.

After the tour I purchased three beers off the list.

Meantime London Stout was my favourite of the three Meantime offerings. It’s a lot thinner than a lot of stouts I have tried before but that is not a bad think. I got the taste of raspberries in there somewhere, along side the usual coffee, chocolate and vanilla that is synonymous with stouts.

Meantime London Porter. A recreation of a 1750s recipe first brewed 250 years later this a reasonably strong complex beer with lots going on. I liked all the Meantime beers I have tried and this was no exception. A little bit of fruit and chocolate with some chargrilled tones coming from somewhere this porter makes it clear to see why the style was so popular all those years back.

Meantime Coffee Porter. The coffee aspect to this drink is not simply a marketing ploy, it really does contain fair trade Rwandan coffee beans. They work really well. Its easy to get very quickly accustomed to these new flavours beer, especially coffee and chocolate dark beers, and they already seem just part of the range. It was good but you couldn’t have too many. An enjoyable sipper.

On the way back to the station we stopped off at a pub called The Lost Hour. There I had a pint of Brewdog Punk IPA.


I have obviously had this beer many times before, I have even got shares in their company but I thought I should get one to cross it off my list.

Brewdog Punk IPA is a bit of an icon. I first came across it whilst working at the Golden Fleece as they had it on tap and people would travel to the pub just to get a pint of it. This is the craft beer everybody knows. With their modern stylings I think lots of brewers, beavertown,etc, have either been influenced or benefitted from Brewdogs popularity. As a beer it is very floral and hoppy. Very american looking and tasting it packs a punch and is very refreshing.