To keep up to date with all of our beer related activities follow us on Twitter @Pubcask
I approached this beer festival with a great deal of intrigue. Ipswich and East Suffolk CAMRA were once again in charge, which in my opinion was a good thing as I was rather disappointed with the unofficial festival last year. The venue was also brand new and I did meet this with mixed feelings; the scenic waterfront replaced with the astroturf behind Portman Road, home of Ipswich Town Football Club. Despite my trepidation and despite Saturday’s weather, I think this new venue worked rather well with the potential to grow into a well received festival in future years.
Arriving at the station, I took the 5-10 minute walk to the football ground in the dull, damp weather. I entered the ground at opening, it was still quiet so myself and my friends easily set up camp at a table in the shelter of the large marquee for the afternoon. A real positive of the day was the amount of available seating. This would have been even better had the weather been nicer as you could have happily sat on the astro turf near the stage. Instead of course, rain meant most were huddled in under cover.
Food on the day was good. Bratwurst sausages, fancy burgers, cheese and pies, pizza and a thai food stall. I opted for the latter for my lunch, it was rather good!
We experienced generally good service from the CAMRA volunteers. After my first 1/3, I noticed a crack at the bottom of my glass. This was kindly replaced without any bother. I experienced good service at the bar although one member of my group was flatly told at the Belgian bar ‘It isn’t my job to serve’ without directing them to a person who could! Of course, such variability is to be expected due to the fact that these events are run by volunteers who are giving up their time. Though I feel that this incident was worth mentioning.
On a more disappointing note. An ITFC steward’s treatment of one member of our group was particularly poor. When entering the tent one member of our group was told to put away his E-Cigarette. My friend apologised and did this without hesitation. However, upon doing this, the steward raised his voiced, pointing and said ‘you’ve been warned!’ Now maybe he was having a quiet day but eyeballing us for the next 5 minutes was not pleasant nor necessary.
The only other point I wish to make is that the programme’s beer listing wasn’t great. No beers had a description and some were wrongly labelled in terms of what beer type they were. I noticed I wasn’t the only one disappointed. Here’s a Tweet from Hellhound brewery:
Ipswich Beer Festival programme has our correct name. But wrong address, wrong beer name, wrong abv. Camra, what would we do without you?!
So once again, another potential area for development.
Right anyway onto the important stuff, the beer. I was delighted with the diversity of beer on offer. It should be mentioned that the range of Milds available was particularly strong (in number!). So here we go, here is what I worked my way through! Apologies to those who are fans of pale ales, I am a sucker for dark beer!
1) Bartrams Comrade Bill Bartrams Egalitarian Anti Imperialist Soviet Stout – good with a lovely smooth touch. However I was expecting something majestic having read so much about this beer.
2) Earl Soham – Sir Roger’s Porter – A very good, sweet porter – recommended.
3) Elgoods – Black Dog Mild – An excellent Mild.
4) Hoxne – Brakey Wood – Strong beer, strong aroma with sweet taste. Not too bad.
5) Elmtree – Dark Horse stout – A superb, rich rewarding stout with a hint of coffee.
6) Grain – Liberty best bitter – Sweet with hint of bitterness, would be rewarding on its own.
7) Ilkley – Joshua Jane – A truly superb classic bitter. Look forward to trying again.
8) Ilkley – Black – A very good mild.
9) Muirhouse – Hat trick IPA – a well-balanced traditional IPA
10) Maxim – Maximus – rewarding strong ale with sweet malty finish
11) Panther – Black Panther Stout – A phenomenal stout, second time I have had it and I must say that this is superb. Beer of the day
12) Shortts Farm – Two Tone Mild – Satisfactory
13) Thornbridge – Wild Swan – Floral overtones in taste and aroma.
14) Thwaites – Nutty black – A consistently decent mild
15) Tiny Rebel – Dirty Stop Out Smoked Porter – A good rich beer, won’t be to everyone’s taste.
16) Castle Rock – Screech Owl IPA – Very standard American IPA
All beer was well served and reasonably priced.
So in conclusion, well done Ipswich beer festival! Had the weather been brighter this would have been excellent. Portman road worked as a venue, it is easy to get to and offered lots of space and seating. The beer list was decent and diverse. I hope this festival will experience continued success in the future.