To keep up to date with all of our beer related activities follow us on Twitter @Pubcask
Hello you wonderful people!
This is the first blog from myself this year, although we have had some great write ups of Breweries Jon has visited in London over the last few months.
But for me its a fresh blogging canvas, so I may be a tad rusty.
So this blog is all about our trip to the Chelmsford Winter Beer and Cider festival. It’s the first outing in a while that Jon, Daniel and Myself have all been reunited. Me and Daniel got a very easy train direct to Chelmsford, and met Jon at the station shortly after.
There are a number of pubs literally within a few meters from the station, which is always nice. However we didn’t get a chance t pop into any. The beer festival itself was hosted at King Edwards Grammar School, which was about a 5 minute walk from the station. Also very convenient!
The first thing we liked, no entry fee! Excellent. We each grabbed a £10 token card, and got glass for £3. Which in my eyes is very reasonable, standard price for a festival glass, and of course refundable if you do not wish to keep it. The token cards are again a familiar item at beer festivals, meaning the bar staff don’t have to worry about handling cash. You buy a £10 card and just use this. Simple!
The beer prices themselves I personally thought on the steep side, for a beer festival. Ranging from £3 upto £4 for the stronger beers. With an average of £3.50 a pint. This is probably just a reflection on myself, but for a festival I thought it on the dear side. Jon on the other hand, after now being in London for some time commented on how cheap they were! So perspective comes into it a lot. One last thing to mention on the process is, that halfs were halfs! As you know we find it absurd at a festival when you pay a premium on a half, rather than just half the price of a pint. Halfs are halfs!
The layout was very good. They had three main bar areas. One in the Gym, another in the Dining Hall, and the last in the Assembly Hall. This meant it was not really crowded at all. And you weren’t ever waiting ages at the bar. The space was ample, even as it got busier towards the end. We also found seats quite early on, and kept them all evening, however if we had of lost them, there were plenty more available in the Assembly Hall and the Gym.
The bars themselves were split into alphabetical order, but none actually had any signs to say which, so you had to check which beer was at the front of the bar and which was at the end and figure out which bar had which beers. Simple enough but it could have been easier with some signs. Also they had an impressive list of beers in the list, but not too many on. Also, when a beer had finished, they simply removed the sign. So you had no idea if it was still to come, or had gone, or what the score was. Some more signage again would have been nice, rather than a wall of blank casks!
However, I can’t really say it was too much of an issue, just me being picky. Overall the beer festival itself was very good, a good range of beers, many darker beers, which we like, but still a number of others, the space was good, wasnt too crowded, the atmosphere was great, all round top marks.
We each ploughed through a number of halfs, and as usual noted are thoughts and feelings on each beer, as you will find below!
Dominion’s, Pitfield Ginger Beer 5.0% – This had an OK ginger flavour, a little harsh on the throat, OK flavours but have had better.
Great Newsome’s, Jem’s Stout 4.3% – A nice Smokey stout, quite thin but with nice flavours.
Itchen Valley’s, Belgarum 3,9% – An elderflower flavoured beer, oops, didn’t realise it was. Also it was horrible.
Oakleaf’s, Dubbel Barrel 6.0% – An amazing beer, not the Belgian taste that I expected but was so good, really complex flavours.
Stod Fold’s, Blonde 4.5% – This was a standard blond, a little too hoppy for me, but not the worst.
Wibblers’, Head Brewers Choice No.8 Spiced Winter Mild 3.7% – This was a nice beer, easy to drink, quite thin but nice fruity flavours.
Windsor & Eton’s, Zinzan’s Drop 4.0% – A simple session beer, a nice bitter but nothing to get too excited about.
Allendale’s, Red Eye 6.0% – A seriously strong bitter, at 6% just too much to make it drinkable.
Weird Beards’, Black Perle 4.2% – I’m a big fan of this brewery. An excellent stout but I preferred it out of a mini keg at The London Craft Beer Festival 2013.
London Fields’, Black Frost Stout 6.0% – Full bodied stout with hints of dark chocolate. A good opener.
Hewitts’, Dark Wit 4.6% – A dark wheat IPA which was an interesting combination. Very good taste but just a bit weird. Too much going on.
Goldmarks’s, Ebony Mild 3.5% – Smelt like Ribena, a black mild with good flavours but the texture was a bit thin for such a dark beer which left me wanting more.
Cumberland’s, Corby Noir 4.5% – Recommended this by a festival volunteer. A good creamy head with hints of coffee and chocolate.
Beartown’s, Bluebeary 4.0% – This was a brilliant surprise. Light golden beer infused with blueberry. Superb. Goes down a treat.
Acorn’s, Gorlovka Imperial Stout 6.0% – Inspired by the Winter Olympics at 6.0% this was quite weak for an imperial but a superb smooth drinkable stout nonetheless.
O’Hanlons’, Barley Wine 12.8&%- At 12.9% this blew my socks and the rest of my clothes off. Very strong with a good blended malty taste.
Bartrams’, Harvest Old 10.0% – A very nice barley wine. Sweet with tastes of dark fruits and a spicy hoppiness.
Bespoke’s, Money For Old Rope 4.8% – A good stout with a lovely rich smooth body.
Concrete Cow’s, Cloven Vanilla Stout 4.5% – A very nice stout, slight hint of vanilla and complex flavours.
Goose Eye’s, Over And Stout 5.2% – A standard stout, nice but nothing special.
Harveys’, Sussex Mild Ale 3.0% – A very nice mild, malty, roasty, and a lovely sweet finish.
Highland’s, Oat Stout 5.0% – Not what I expected. A nice standard stout but not as oaty as I expected.
Saltaire’s, Hazelnut Coffee Porter 4.6% – This was a lovely porter. A good roast nutty flavour, with a hint of coffee coming through.
Tonbridge’s, Traditional 3.6% – It is what it says. A traditional, ordinary bitter.
Two Cocks’, 1643 Puritan 4.5% – Another good stout, nice caramel and chocolate flavours coming through.
Vale’s, Black Swan Mild 3.9% – Another great mild, smooth, malt, with hints of coffee.
Wibblers’, Hop Black 4.0% – The one beer I did not enjoy. A very dark bitter, to roasty and harsh, and badly hopped.
So overall as I said, a very successful trip, with a good range of beers to try, which we did! We will definitely look out for the next festival, and urge you to do the same.
Our Pubcask Podcasts are also making a comeback, and you can listen to the edition from this trip here!
We hope to be visiting more festivals throughout the year, so look out for the next blog, and to finish it off, here are some pictures of our day!
Thank you, and goodnight!