Running since 1989, this year saw the 26th Chester Charity Beer Festival. Some of you may remember we attended this event last year with our brewer friend, and this year was no different. In many ways.
Armed with our tickets and a great big thirst for their selection of 130 different tipples, we boarded the festival bus at the train station. Last year we were obviously younger and more agile, and for some unknown reason decided to walk the distance. This year either age has caught up with us or we were just feeling particularly lazy and we hopped on the free bus. To be fair, it was a great decision. More time to ponder upon the drinks and less time wondering if we’re going the right way. The bus service is a great way to get to and back from the venue and in future, we will definitely be using it again.
I had printed of the beer list and studied it religiously before hand – but felt a little stupid having the vast amount of paper in my bag after entering the venue as they provide you with a fancy magazine with the beers on as well as the classic souvenir glass (also required for drinking purposes).
Obviously, the first beer we had was made by our brewer friend. It had to be done. Temper Temper by Axion Brewing Co was advertised as a Golden Ale made with Kohatu and TnT hops giving citrus and intense sweet berries flavours. It seems that brewers tend to suffer from a serious case of perfectism and “I’m not happy”-ism when it comes to their own beer. Certainly something had happened to the beer – it probably wasn’t exactly as the brewer had intended it, however we enjoyed what we had and would go out of our way to seek it out again. Kat was deciphering some sour notes in the beer, which probably wasn’t what was intended but came through anyway and to a degree, made the beer just that much more enjoyable. Kat has a soft spot for sour beers. You can’t account for taste.
We wanted to have some Spank from Blueball Brewery (get your mind out the gutter right now) but before our very eyes, the last of it was poured to someone else and we were left wanting. Of course this great travesty was corrected later in Kash Bar, so we weren’t left too bitter.
The next item on the list was Titanic Brewery’s Cappuccino Stout. Tasting notes boasted a combination of the brewer’s and the barista’s talents combining the original dry Titanic Stout with the flavours of warm, enveloping smooth cappuccino. But it wasn’t what we thought a stout was like. It was more light in consistency, resembling more a malty ale, and the taste only hit you after the fact (supping), no intense first love when you take in a new beer. All in all, a far too bubblegummy flavour for us. Shame.
Off we went then to Magic Rock’s Rapture. We have always had a right soft spot for this beer – and Magic Rock can be a hard one to come by nowadays (or always) in our locality. Said to be a full bodied, hoppy red beer with five types of malt and six types of hop, the tasting notes just do not do it justice. One of our all-time favourite tipples, this is, and we cannot commend it highly enough. There are hints of grapefruit and pine, combined with a orange and citrus flavours against a deep malty flavour, if you haven’t tried this beer, you are seriously missing out.
Then, we moved on to Offbeat Brewery’s Unite. Now, this we chose purely because of the tasting notes, which read: “Brewed to celebrate International Women’s Day by Project Venus brewsters to be a twist on a pale session beer using Cascade hops”. Kat believes nothing bad can come out of International Women’s day. The beer itself wasn’t as outrageous and bold as she hoped it to be. There wasn’t anything wrong with it, but there wasn’t anything that made her go OOMPH either. Which doesn’t mean the beer itself wasn’t a good beer – it just wasn’t what she expected. Again, no accounting for taste.
The next beer was perhaps the wild card of the whole night; Tatton Brewery’s Pink Lady. We have very much enjoyed their White Queen beer, and when we read the tasting notes and realised Pink Lady was a raspberry version of the same, we had to get our hands on it. The tasting notes describe the beer having secondary fermentation with fresh raspberries develops a dry, fruity, pink-tinged variant of our Belgian-style wheat beer, and boy, it did not let you down. Probably the best beer of the festival, hands down. It was sweet without being sickly, it was refreshing and packed a punch-load of flavour. We would strongly recommend you to have a pop at this beer if you can, it is tremendous.
We tried numerous other beers as well, but at this part of the night, they kind of started to blend together. However, we did enjoy ourselves immensely. The food was by Hickory’s, as it usually is, ad it was gorgeous, as it usually is. We’d like to point out as well that we found it to be very reasonable priced; sometimes in festivals the food is like a day-light robbery. £4 for a pot of pulled pork that a hungry beer drinker can’t even finish because there is too much of it ain’t a bad deal.
There was also music; we recognized most of the bands from last year. The only criticism we would point out is that it was nearly impossible to stand inside the tent and to talk while the bands were on, the music was far too loud and drowned everything under itself. How the staff heard our orders is either a testament to their ability to read lips or sheer luck. There was a lot of pointing at things, though.
We would say that this year was equally enjoyable to last year – and perhaps it shouldn’t be. Perhaps there
should be something different, something that stood out as this year’s own thing, something that made this year very different to last one. Of course you can say “if it ain’t broken don’t fix it”, and don’t get us wrong, the concept works, the events are great and we had a great time. But maybe next year they’ll surprise us and outrage us.
See you next year!