Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Ealing Beer Festival

Last week I went to the Ealing Beer Festival. It was pretty rad. Sure, I have some opinions on CAMRA, but they put on one hell of a festival. We went around 2pm, and it was mercifully slow, thanks in part to on-again, off-again rain showers. The festival had two tents arranged alphabetically. About 1/3rd of the beers were on the first day, so the selection was pretty good.

(It wasn't all dudes, I swear)

I decided to stick to milds and browns, mainly, as I can't find them as reliably in pubs as the bog-standard of bitters. We deposited for the half-pint glasses, and stuck to drinking nips (1/3rd of a UK pint, or roughly 6.6 ounces), for about 90p ($1.45). I started out with a mild as did my colleague. I had Marston Moor Brewing (Now part of Rudgate) Matchlock Mild. The beer presented dark brown, clear and with nearly no carbonation or head. The aroma was fairly strong, dominated by apple esters and some black patent roast notes. On the first taste there is a burst of flavor, especially Goldings hops and some carmel which adds sweetness and some solid chocolate roast. The flavor is still estery. It is medium bodied and sweet in the middle. The finish is pretty dry, with a hard punch of bittering, with added drying from the healthy amount of roast.

(This isn't Black Cat Mild in a Bottle, BJCP fans, this is the real stuff)

My drinking companion had Bazen's Black Pig Mild. This smelled of chocolate roast and had a tobacco note. It was very dark brown, almost opaque, with ruby/garnet highlights. Medium body, medium sweet finish, it was without an ester profile. The flavor was dominated by chocolate roast and had good hopping as well.

(Gravity Fed Casks with Glycol Cooled Jackets)

For our second round, my colleague moved onto Hanby Brewing's Cherry Bomb. It did what the label said, cherry nose and flavor. I had Spectrum Brewing's Trip Hazard. Aptly named for the strength, it was a very strong bitter. The nose was fruitful, with peach and pear notes and low levels of earthy hops. The flavor was sweet almost to the point of cloying, with a medium-full body but a cleansing finish that is medium sweet due to some residual sweetness remaining. This is a clear, copper brew.

(Trip Hazard on left, Cherry Bomb on Right, Lawsuits Forthcoming)

We went for round three with a pair of milds, shown above. I forget what he had, but I had Dark Star Brewing's Over The Moon (foreground). This wasn't as great as I had hoped, though it had a nice level of carbonation, good head stand and was black with ruby highlights again. The aroma was a good mix of apple esters, roast and chocolate with low levels of Fuggles. The flavor was bitter throughout with a very strong dry roast note. There was medium hop flavor and finished somewhat astringent, paired with a medium-light body. So, a bit over-hopped and over dry in my opinion, more like a black bitter than a mild.
(A pair of milds, delicately paired with Pork Scratchings)

And we retired to lunch at this point. The British aren't known for their cooking, historically being chided by the French for having Europe's best ingredients and worst cooks. But they do one thing right- stuff four days worth of inedible left overs into a pie, bake the jesus out of it and produce a hearty, pocketable meal. The wild boar and apple pie was fantastic. So was the steak and ale. What goes with beer? Piles of meat wrapped in butter and flour!

(Not Pictured: Dudes wearing "Sex, Drugs and Pies" shirts)

Back to beers. I followed up the lunch with what was labeled as a 'Victorian Porter,' Acorn Brewing's Old Moor Porter. I'd like to think this meant they made brown malt, didn't use roast and mixed three generations of porter into the barrel, but really think it means they added brewers licorice and gave it a vaguely racist name. A good beer though, and the most useful website of any English brewery I've been to. The boquet is almost coconut with roast, some hops, licorice and coffee. Black roast dominates the flavor, with some caramel notes, raisin like flavors (Crystal II anyone) and some plum esters. The flavor profile is sweet at start, has medium bitterness which adds to a medium-dry finish, with a clean aftertaste.
(At least they don't hang an actual head... anymore)

We had some more beers too (6 rounds, so tried 12 beers and consumed only 2 UK pints each). The twitter has the full notes. The Beartown Brewing's Polar Eclipse was a great example of an oatmeal stout, but I'll end by talking about the Grainstore Brewing Rutland Beast. A good brown ale, listed as 'strong' (5.3% ABV...), which I think is the beer pictured below. It had a malty nose with some coffee notes, no esters and some low earthy hops. The flavor was pretty sweet, with malt and some nice dark fruit esters and some medium low flavor hops (Not fuggles, but not sure what they were). This is a full bodied beer, approaching chewiness. I thought of it as a scaled down barley wine, more than a brown ale. It had a medium finish, which left you knowing you just had some beer, without being thirsty.

(This might be the Rutland Beast, it is certainly no Jersey Devil)

So, after only four hours, trying twelve beers and having pork both fried and in pie form, we took our leave. Had I been closer to Ealing, I'd have liked to go back 4 days later and try these again to see how they aged, as well as some other beers that looked good but weren't on yet. And leaving Ealing, I knew I was safe, because these guys were on patrol!

(Where the badger is the most deadly predator, the Meerkat could should be king)

1 comment:

  1. Is that wonderful cat, helping brew the beer? Or is this a new non-CAMRA approved additive?