So near my nose

Q: Can you have too much of a good thing?
A: Well, I’m Spooned out. I had three this evening, three last night and three on Tuesday. Thirds, that is, in the current beer festival at the local JDW’s. (Plus another four and a half pints over the same period.) This isn’t a huge intake, but it is on the high side for me in a normal week – in particular, it’s unusual for me not to have a couple of dry nights in a week. More to the point, the novelty of those taster glasses has well and truly worn off, I’m finding it hard to remember what anything tasted like compared to anything else, and I’m feeling the need of a break from the Spoons – not the most relaxing place to drink at the best of times.

I missed the Ballast Point, which sounded like quite a beer – it was on when I stuck my nose in this afternoon but off by the time I got there this evening. Several beers didn’t really stand out, and some of those that did didn’t appeal – I found Hyde’s Plum Treat far too fruity and Oakham Taipan almost undrinkably piney. But there was some great stuff along the way. For example:

Bateman’s All Seasons: as Tandleman says, very much like any other Bateman’s bitter; I also agree with Tandleman that this is no bad thing.

Brains Milkwood: yes indeed. This is my kind of beer – a big darkish malty bitter in the South Walian style.

Conwy St David’s ale: not in the programme but labelled as a festival ale on the bar nevertheless. A whacking great malt-bomb (in the North Walian style), but with hop aroma in full effect. Big, rich, deep flavour. Never mind the thirds, I went straight for a pint, and I was glad I did. The best thing I’ve had from Conwy, against some strong competition.

Daleside White Bier: a big surprise, and a pleasant one. It actually is a witbier, or a very good imitation of one.

Freeminer Deep Shaft: #50 in the programme (ordered by strength), which consequently kept the best till last. A stunningly great 6.2% stout: big, thick, heavy, roasty and strong. Like being hit by a velvet steamroller.

Holden’s April Shower: I don’t remember anything about this, but I’m listing it here because I know I enjoyed it enough to order it twice.

Lodewijk’s Dutch Delight: a malty best bitter with some unexpected aromatic overtones – almost herby. Didn’t quite live up to the advance publicity, but interesting stuff.

Mauldon’s Blackberry Porter: I have a love-hate relationship with fruit-flavoured beers; love ’em when they’re balanced, hate ’em when all you can taste is the fruit. This was a ‘love’ – a porter with blackberry notes, as unlikely as that sounds.

Rooster’s Angry Yank IPA: a nice, light, easy-drinking beer in the APA style, rather like Holts IPA but less full-on. Not what I was expecting at all.

Titanic Tug Light: a very light mild (the colour of a pale bitter), but recognisably a mild: malty, sweetish, easy-drinking.

I’m up to 29 of the 50 festival ales – or 30 out of 51 counting the Conwy; and in that 30 there have been eight memorable discoveries and two solid classics. That’ll do me.


  1. Posted 9 April, 2011 at 8:01 am | Permalink | Reply

    Like the ‘Holden’s April Shower’ review. I’ve had some hazy mornings trying to remember what I drank at beer festivals when I could remember nothing about a beer except that I liked it.

  2. Posted 10 April, 2011 at 9:49 am | Permalink | Reply

    Most of the beers I’ve had in the festival have been unmemorable, too. The Ballast Point is easily the best I’ve had but Ramble Tamble and Angry Yank were both very enjoyable.

    You don’t HAVE to drink them by the third-pint though…! I always got silly looks when I ordered three thirds and carried them back on a tray. I stick to half pints now.

  3. Posted 10 April, 2011 at 12:37 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Horses for courses. I found the Ballast ok, but not a patch on the Ramble Tamble or the Feral Runt. As usual, there have been quite a few disappointments.

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