During the last beer festival I attended in Chester I had my arm strapped up due to my broken wrist, so blogging about it was a long and drawn out process which I didn’t attempt. However the photos are annoyingly sitting on my Google drive so here’s a quick run down before we launch into Chester Beer and Wine Festival, which is not the same as Chester Craft Beer Festival.
Hosted by the Carriage Shed and the excellent Beer Heroes, Chester Craft Beer Festival was held on a swelteringly hot day in late April. Highlights for me included the Handyman and Chapter Brewing collab Sour 03, a beetroot and hibiscus sour which was the colour of strawberries, and Brew York’s Hey Mango, which tasted exactly like a melted Solero. Here are some pics for your perusal and I apologise for being so lazy, typing with one hand is about as frustrating as you can get and it was hot outside. (You might notice that my cousin Mark, the one who fell over, is wearing his trusty Beer Festival Shirt in both sets of images).
Back to the present day and CBWF is organised by the superb Chester Beer and Wine in Hoole, about 10 minutes walk from Chester train station and a stockist of all the best beers. It’s only their second year running but they had a tremendous amount of beers and were on for three days so we were glad to get there early doors on the Friday.
First alphabetically and also my Beer of the Festival was Beartown’s Creme Bearlee – a vanilla stout which has the exact burnt vanilla and molasses taste you would expect from such a name. Seek it out with all haste, it was a stunner.
On my trip to the Isle of Man I had been reading the Merseyside CAMRA magazine because no-one in the Old Market Inn would talk to me, and heard about Ernest, a British hop which had gone out of fashion a few decades ago for being ‘too New World’ but has recently been re-discovered and had a new lease of life. It was paired with Ekuanot in Elusive’s Sunset Rider and by golly if it isn’t a perfect example of an earthy British hop in perfect tandem with a fruity, American aromatic.
North Riding’s Ice Cream Porter is a chocolate and vanilla treat which basically tastes like a cold, flat cappuccino, surprisingly refreshing for a porter. Siren’s Suspended in Secrets pale ale advertises as a pineapple profile, and for a change it actually delivers. Tiny Rebel’s Cheeky V promised so much that I’m surprised they haven’t been sued by Vimto, but alas, after the very first sip there was barely a trace of the familiar Vimto flavour and I was left with basically a blackcurrant sour.
Other keg beers of note were Boon’s kriek, an excellent cherry lambic, and Mordue Brewery’s E=PF Squared. Super lively coming off the pump, it took about five minutes to poor but it was a very pleasant dry wheat beer and worth the wait.
Amongst the also-rans were Waen and Hopcraft’s Lemon Drizzle, a dry hoppy ale which was nothing special and not especially lemony either. One criticism of the beer line-up is that there were maybe too many pale ales, with too little to distinguish them from each other. I ended up on cider for the first time at a festival but I got lucky as Cockeyed’s Chilli and Ginger was an absolute corker. In fact I went back for more but the server didn’t hear me properly (or maybe I was slurring my words by this point, who knows?) and I ended up with a Sea Cider strawberry instead.
Despite the rain driving everyone inside for about five minutes this was an enjoyable festival taking place mostly in a community centre car park. A far cry from London Craft Beer Festival which was where the rest of the beer blogosphere appeared to be. LCBF had Toddla T DJing and vegan hotdogs whereas CBWF had a bloke doing Billy Joel covers and cheese toasties. There was also a glitter tattoo tent- not quite sure what they were doing there, something for the kids? Who weren’t allowed in? It’s a mystery. I’m only pleased that I wasn’t drunk enough to end up waking up with a huge glittery dolphin on my face.