The Wetherspoon Beer Festivals are eagerly anticipated, largely for the thrill of the chase, as we seek out those beers brewed by foreign brewers and other top picks. The most recent festival started on Wednesday, but the official launch for our area was yesterday and in the superb Regal Moon to boot. Other JDW pubs from the area were represented too and hopefully were impressed. I had a chat with two very enthusiastic managers and at their invitation, gave them some advice about beer selection, drawing heavily on Cask Report tips. The Area Manager also promised me an ad in our CAMRA Branch Magazine, so all was well so far.
It was an august crowd that gathered to sample the early array of beers on offer, but most of us were awaiting the simultaneous unveiling of all five Yankee beers at 2 o'clock. Tyson the Beerhound was present, as was the Landlady. Gerald Nodding of Winter Ales fame was there to see how things are done, Eddie Senior and Archimedes made guest appearances and even Joe Stalin turned up, ate all the pies and went. The early beer offerings were a mixed bag of ordinariness to downright unpleasant, the unpleasant being headed strongly by Traditional Scottish Ales Taking the Pith - a beer made from lemon and lime pith. Everyone agreed they were indeed taking the pith. Wadworth Octoberzest tasted like a fruitier version of 6X, with the Wadworth house style showing strongly through, but was pleasant enough. Double Maxim Andersons Best Scotch was unfortunately forgettable in every way. Caledonian Imperial Russian Stout was said by the landlady to taste of truffles. This was not a consensus view, but on the agreement side, nobody liked it. Tyson remarked that Rooster's Last Stand was a belated return to form of Sean Franklin, just before he disappears to Canada. It was indeed a fine beer with pronounced hoppiness.
A murmur of excitement ran through the room as pumpclips appeared on the last bank of six handpumps. No thirds were available due to late delivery of glasses, so halves were procured. Bend Eclipse Cascadian Dark Ale, wasn't that dark really and though the hops showed through strongly, it was oddly watery. Stone San Diego Session Ale was much better, but again somehow didn't quite hit the spot. Odell's 90/- was dominated by caramelly malt, which managed to overwhelm the Perle and Cascade hops. Fathead's Yakima Sun was more pleasing, though again malt seemed to have won its battle with hops. Last up was Kalmazoo Black Silk, which was to my mind, the best of the bunch, being toasty, smooth and moreish.
So why the title? Occupying last place on the handpull bank was Adnams American style IPA. What a great beer. Resinous, oily hops, a firm smooth and biscuity malt base, a tight creamy head and at 4.8% proving you don't need to overwhelm with alcohol to make a bloody great beer. I switched to pints and filled my boots, leaving too late and somewhat the worse for wear.
So Adnam's teach the Yankee Brewers a lesson in making American style beer. Who'd a thowt it? But they did.
A bit of a CV. Tandleman is a veteran beer lover, local CAMRA Chairman and activist, beer writer, beer reviewer and pursuer of all things good in beer. He lives in the North West of England and London. Despite his CAMRA membership, he does not limit himself to cask conditioned beer, though he believes that cask conditioning, when done correctly and appropriately, brings a quality to beer that is hard to equal by any other kind of presentation. He is a strong supporter of Northern methods of beer dispense and avidly detests poorly presented beer and dislikes pasteurisation. He regularly visits Germany, has conducted corporate British and German beer tastings for CAMRA at the Great British Beer Festival where he has worked for years on Biere Sans Frontieres and was Deputy Organiser at CAMRA's very successful National Winter Ales Festival in 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2012 and at the Manchester Beer and Cider Festival from 2013 to date. He admires good brewers wherever they are and has travelled extensively in pursuit of good beer to drink.
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