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It’s been some time since we have ventured in any pubcask related adventures, and this will hopefully be the first of many more regular posts, as we have a lot more visits planned in the future!
We planned to wait until summer before embarking on as many trips as we could, but it looks like we missed the week of sun so will just endure through the wind and the rain!
Our latest outing was to Harwich Town, for a beer festival hosted by Harwich Town Brewing Co. at Redoubt Fort. Jon, Dan and Myself jumped on the train, for a cheap £7 return, and headed out. Harwich is easy enough to get to, one quick change of train from Ipswich, although the urge to stop at Harwich International and take a day trip across to Amsterdam is quite appealing. Anyway we made it to Harwich easily, and then a short walk brought us to Redoubt Fort. A 19th century fort, in which the beer festival was held. After climbing the huge hill to get in, I realised I had no money. Now Harwich is not the biggest place, but I still had to traipse into town and back for the first glimpse of a cash point.
The entry was £2, which we couldn’t grumble at, too much, however the first thing we noticed, which shocked us, was plastic cups! We were gutted they did not have their own glasses. One of the perks of a beer festival is to buy your own glass to have as a record of the day! Unfortunately this was not the case, and we were stuck with standard plastic cups, which was disappointing. However, what we did fail to notice before we went, was the note that entry was only £1 if you brought you own tankard, but it still would have been nice to take something away from the day.
Once we were over the initial shock, and accustomed our taste buds to that of a plastic cup (yes there is a difference!!) we started on the wide range of beers. They were serving a list of 25 cask ales along with a number of American bottle beers, and even Sierra Nevada on draught. They also had over 150 different beers available over the course of the festival. Each time a barrel emptied a new different ale was tapped. We got on the half’s, and managed a good 17 different ales between us.
Before we get onto the beers, I have to say the weather was actually fantastic. Up until the very end there was not a cloud in the sky, and the sun poured in the top of the fort, and was actually like summer! Until the sun got so far over the wall it didn’t hit us, then a cold chill came over, but was still a lovely day. As nice as the setting was, rain would of destroyed it.
Apart from the beers, the food was great. We had a great pork roll for £4 filled with loads of pork, stuffing and apple sauce. Glorious!
Then there was the entertainment. The morris dancing was great, and spurred us to discuss the benifits of being a Morris dancer. you get to go to numerous events, usually involving beer, and dance, have some beers, dance and have a few more beers. Looks great fun, and we can definitely see Jon as a Morris dancer.
So onto the beers we tried, Ill start with the ones I tasted –
Potton – Penny Bitter 4.0% – Very woody, and also very bitter! Light woody colour and got better the further down the cup I got. Did make everything taste bitter afterwards though.
St Georges – Keep Calm 4.4% – Not overly bitter, a good bit of malt finish although not overly sweet. Slightly thin bodied but pleasant to drink, and refreshing.
Castle Rock – Sheriffs tipple 3.4% – Light brown ale, not that bitter, although not much sweetness with a medium to thin body. Refreshing but not outstanding, nothing special and slightly bland.
Ilkley – Ilkley Black 3.7% – Dark mild beer, not a stout. Very tasty, excellent roasted coffee aroma, and followed up by a great roasted flavour.
White Horse – Hi Ho 4.3% – Light pale ale, slightly hopped but with some sweetness. Surprisingly good pale ale where the hops gave flavour with little malt character.
B & T – Dunstable giant 4.4% – Tasted odd to me, hard to place. Light brown ale, slightly hopped and malty with an underlying flavour I couldn’t pick out. Still enjoyable.
Nethergate – Essex Beast 6.2% – Very dark ale, huge malt body and not overly bitter. Good stout and even wuite refreshing.
Jons Beers –
Blindmans – Jack 3.6% – Pleasant pale ale, refreshing. A good opener.
Outstanding – Selling Out 3.9% – An element f grass, average ale, quite weak.
B& T – Dunstable Giant 4.4% – A tasty medium body brown ale. Good malt taste but but nothing distinguishing.
White Horse – Hi Ho 4.3% – Refreshing like a lager, but with lost of flavour.
Ilkley – Ilkley Black 3.7% – Dark and nutty, but not so heavy, easy to drink.
Nethergate – Old Growler 5.0% – Full bodied and fruity with a thick body. Goes down well.
Saltire – Empress 5.0% – An odd tasting pale ale, more of a session beer, standard favour with nothing special.
Nethergate – Essex Beast 6.2% – Dark, strong, and thick with a great malty flavour with a refreshing finish.
Harwich Town – Bay Extra 3.6% – Extremely wooden taste, very harsh on the pallet and creates a disappointing after taste.
Harwich Town – Lighthouse 4.8% – A wonderful light pale ale, without overpowering hops. A very easy to drink beer perfect for a hot summers day.
Orkney – Dark Island 4.8% – Complying with it’s name it sure is dark, a very thick strong ale, but surprisingly easy to drink, with a roasted, richness to it creating an interesting finish.
Ilkley – Ilkley Black 3.7% – A mild dark beer that throws of interesting hints of nut and chocolate, thin and easy to drink, a very enjoyable beer.
Harwich Town – Redoubt Stout 4.2% – A very harsh dark stout, very thick but also really tasty, it had a smokey finish to it you would sometimes find in German beers.
White Horse – Hi Ho Silver 4.3% – A very enjoyable beer indeed, and my pick for the best beer at the festival. It’s smooth taste with aspects of larger made for a surprising pallet revelation. A beer you can drink until your hearts content.
B&T – Albion 4.0% – Probably my least favourite beer, very overpowering hops giving it a flowery taste and making it difficult to drink.
Overall it was a great day, and we would recommend going next year, as I’m sure we will be there! Also if you spot any Harwich Town beers, grab one to try out!
Also check out our podcast of the trip and listen to us go over the beers and the day!