Chester certainly isn’t short of beer festivals come October. Not to be outdone by the mother of all beer festivals in Germany, our fair city has one for almost each weekend.
Take Telford’s Warehouse for one. They celebrated their 20th birthday last weekend, and to really throw an unforgettable bash, they hosted a beer festival. As you do.
I haven’t attended a Telford’s beer festival before but the opinions of those who have, have been cleanly divided in the middle. Some have loved it and some have not. So it was definitely time to get better acquainted with this event that has become an institute in its own right.
We’ve always liked Telford’s, not least for the fantastic décor but also the beer garden right next to the canal, really a great place to quaff a few fine ales on a sunny day.
Telford itself is a great place for a beer festival. With the already fairly impressive bar set up, they have a great space for bands and as it turns out, beer, in the lower floors. When we arrived on Saturday afternoon the pub was busy, but not bursting, which enabled us to secure a table next to the giant windows. Believe you me, it became impossible later on. A little walk to the beer wasn’t really a problem when you could sup it next to the best view in the whole establishment.
The festival was very well organised. It can be difficult to arrange what normally serves as a pub to accommodate numerous casks of ale, and Telford’s did it well. The casks were stacked neatly in the lower part of the floor which usually serves bands and those coming to swing to their performances. Queuing up to the beer area was made simple and one never had to hang around too long to be served. This also speaks volumes of the staff placed with the beers, they were not only swift and pleasant in their service, but also knowledgeable about what they were serving.
The price for the beer was also very reasonable. A ticket which got you five halves was £8, making the price £1.60 per quaff. I really liked the little business card like tickets, and also the fact that all the beer was priced the same, making the purchase a very easy operation. No counting pennies and pounds on your cards at the till, just a mark to state you’ve used a drink and off you go. Very organised and more than anything, convenient.
The beer itself was very well kept. This again is a testimony not only to the breweries who had their beer on offer but also to the staff handling them.
But, and it seems there is always a but, the beer list itself left something to be desired. Don’t get me wrong, there wasn’t anything particularly wrong with the beers, and there certainly were enough of them, but the selection available remained a little unadventurous. The great majority, 16 out of 23 beers in total were hoppy pale session ales and whereas we love these, we would have wanted to see a little more variety in the offering. Most of the beers there we have tried in various establishments around Chester as guest ales. Now, we know we drink our fair share of different beers and are on a constant hunt for new experiences, but even still, we felt that the beer on the list was rather safe and unadventurous.
That being said, the beer was tasty, kept well and served with a smile, and probably for some of the visitors it might have offered new experiences and certainly it offered a good experience all in all. Perhaps next year Telford’s will explore the option of having more unique and adventurous beers on their list.
We certainly will pop over to check them out.
Falstall Brewery – The Good, The Bad & The Drunk 6.2%
One of the few darker ales on offer, we selected this purely for the name. After debating which one of our group represented which aspect of the name we decided that this beer perhaps did not represent us very well after all. Whereas it had elements that we like, such as a deep malty taste it also carried a sweet, almost sticky caramelly taste which does not agree with us. We like our beer bitter and whereas this tasting notes promised bitter sweetness, we only found a sickly sweet aftertaste.
White Horse Brewery – Village Idiot 4.1%
Another beer chosen for the name. This golden ale packed some punch with its hops. It was perfectly balanced and smooth and definitely lifted our palates from the previous beer. The Village Idiot sports clean flavours and invigorating aroma. It had soft malts and a perfect balance between being bitter and refreshing. A beer to be enjoyed again for sure!
Coastal Brewery – Golden Hinde 4.3%
If you were to choose this beer on aroma alone you might leave it at the bar. It has a flat aroma which doesn’t seem to go with the flavour at all. Whereas light and airy, it has a lovely smooth taste and a powerful citrus hop finish. It has subtlety but this by no means inclines it is boring. A great session ale with a kick and you might not even need to change to goods with more volume later on.
Sarah Hughes Brewery – Dark Ruby Mild 6.0%
I have always loved my ruby ales so when I spotted one on the list there was no way I would not have it. This one was almost creamy in its texture, but still packed a deep and malty taste. It was sweet without being sickly, had an almost cherry-like flavour and ended up a little sticky at the end. However as far as rubies go it was a decided middle ground and I would probably have this one again if it came my way.