JDW's twice a year beer festival begins today, or, for those lucky enough to be in the vicinity of the Regal Moon in Rochdale, it began last night. It is my usual port of call before our monthly CAMRA meetings and this time, I had been tipped off that all of the beers brewed by foreign brewers would be on the bar. Reasons to try some then.
First up was Pivovar Kocovnik from the Czech Republic, which was pale and refreshing, but a tad dull, with no dominant flavours. The tasting notes describe it as "balanced" which it may well be, but it was nothing special. Devils Backbone American Amber on the other hand delivered as much, if not more than it promised, with loads of juicy C hops and not as much malt predominating as the programme suggested. Good stuff in fact. The offering from the Ionian Sea was Corfu Ionian Porter, which had quite a bit of coffee and chocolate in a slightly thin body. Hops were there, but little of the promised citrus was evident. Deschutes Twilight Pale Ale was certainly pale for an American inspired beer, but that was possibly its best feature. The beer was thin, with obvious acetone and astonishingly dry. Not great on this sampling. Lodewijk Fly By Night was supposedly a Dutch beer inspired by Belgian Dubbels. Not like any I've tasted, with a thin body, raggy malt and no real sign of the described ""wonderful emerging hop." Disappointing.
After an enforced break chairing our CAMRA meeting, I was back to sample the remaining three beers. Good George Pacific Pearl is a Black IPA. It had southern hemisphere hops, dark chocolate, pine resin and a decent body. One of the better ones for sure. Vasileostrovsky Siberian Red at a hefty 6.% was more the biz. Lovely body, roast malt and hop flavours and just in fact as described, it was a very decent beer indeed. This left just one beer before the bus. Central City Racer Red IPA hails from Canada in inspiration at least. It didn't do what it said on the tin, as I didn't detect much by way of hopping, never mind "intense hops." On this showing at least, not my cup of tea.
So there you have it. A quick gallop through the foreign runners and riders. I did feel some of the beers would have benefited from a little more cellar time, so remember, these are cask conditioned beers and will develop and change. Your experience may be better or worse as the beer matures in the cellar. It will almost certainly be different.
That's the real beauty of real ale.
Do you think the foreign brewers really capture the essence of the beers as you'd like them to? I'm not so sure.
A bit of a CV. Tandleman is a veteran beer lover, local CAMRA Chairman and activist, beer author, 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. He admires good brewers wherever they are and has travelled extensively in pursuit of good beer to drink.
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