As mentioned in a previous article, I used to believe that beers with too low of an ABV suffered from a severe lack of taste and innovation. This perhaps was true in the olden days, but with more breweries pitching in with their own versions of session ales the market has experienced a massive surge of flavour and variation worth note. What turned it all around for me was experiencing the Simpleton by MagicRock Brewery, a session ale of 3% that packs a flavour which kicks you in the gonads hard. There really was no sweeter way to eat my own words than flushing them down with this beauty.
So when Kash Chester announced they were about to host a Session Ale Beer Festival I was understandably excited. I had dabbled in session ales ever since my grand discovery but never had I been anywhere near a place where they offered a mixed bag of these fine drinks on one cask bar. I decided to throw my tasting notes away and just hit the bar hard with the intention to see if a night of session ales could really be as fulfilling as drowning your thirst with beers that went to your head almost as fast as they went to your stomach.
Now, the selection available was impressive. The reason for this is probably two-fold. Firstly, I did not know there were so many session ales around, and second, there were big names behind these beers. The likes of Hardknott Brewery had two beers on offer (Lux Borealis & Continuum) and Heavy Industry also were representing (Electric Mountain). Kash’s own brand of Blueball Brewery also pitched in with their classic brew of Gold Digger. The others were perhaps not as known to novice beer lovers but certainly equally tasty; Dark Star Brewery with American Pale Ale, FirstchopBrewingArm’s DOC, Oakham Ales Citra and Portobello Brewery’s VPA.
It certainly was a brave move to host a beer festival dedicated to session ales, especially since Kash themselves are now a home to Redball Brewery, who don’t make beers below 6%. However, it was a very welcomed and refreshing move. The beers were kept well, as we have come to expect at Kash anyway, and very cleverly chosen. There were some brave and outrageous flavours knocking about, but these were balanced with lighter and palate-cleansing choices. Whatever your top choice of tipple, it was represented within the selection. And the fact they were all within session percentage ABV-wise, ensured you could taste them all without losing track of what you have had. This combined with live top tunes as entertainment, a good beer festival makes.
To be honest, I have always had a soft spot for Kash beer festivals. They have always been imaginative and exciting as well as always packed with great beers chosen with care. But it is not for that reason I deem the experience again a success. It is the combination of all the factors pooled together that makes me tick.
We’re definitely keeping our calendars open for the next beer festival. Experience says these events take place around tri-monthly. If you missed this one, you can always get in on the next one.