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Organised by resident brewer Humpty Dumpty, the Reedham Beer Festival is firmly established on the Norfolk Beer Festival calendar. This was my first time attending and I was able to attend both the Friday and the Saturday. On the whole, I was impressed with this quintessentially British beer festival.
Reedham is very well connected by rail. It is only twenty minutes from Norwich and 30 minutes from Lowestoft with trains leaving Reedham until 11pm. Unfortunately for me getting there on the Friday was a nightmare. I was supposed to arrive from Lowestoft at ten past twelve but a fire on a train near Norwich meant I didn’t arrive until half past two!
From the station, the village hall playing fields are less than 5 minutes away. Here is what I was first greeted with:
It was free to enter the festival with a refundable fee of £2.50 to have a Humpty Dumpty Glass. There were large tents providing space for seating, the band to play, food, ice cream and of course, beer and cider!
However… on the Friday the tents provided another vital service: cover! Friday was a dreadful day for the weather with constant drizzle throughout. This must have affected turnout but by no means did it affect spirits. Volunteers throughout both days were chatty and helpful and made the festival a fun place to be at. The food offered was very good and very reasonably priced. Locally sourced pork pies and sausage rolls were available at the bar and the barbecue was offering meaty burgers and fabulous hot dogs. It was also good to see a decent vegetarian option in falafel pitta breads being offered at the barbecue. Credit must go to the man who I saw all day Saturday walking back and forth from the village hall kitchen to fry or chop onions – what a hero!
Moving on now to the important stuff: the beer. There are a few minor niggles I had. First of all, for the amount of beer there, there wasn’t a great deal of diversity. Excluding goldens and bitters, I only counted one mild, two stouts and two IPAS. Okay, okay. It is the Summer! But with the amount beer on offer I would have liked a bit more choice. My next point relates only to Saturday. That is beer availibility and quality. The odd beer didn’t seem quite right and it was a shame to see WWIPA from Humpty Dumpty not settle right in the cask and hence not available to drink (I was informed of this by a CAMRA member). It appears there were a few difficulties with the heat despite it not being overly hot. At one point in the mid afternoon, I counted only nine beers to be available, all of which were quite similar.
With this grumble out of the way, I must stress that the majority of the beer I tried was very enjoyable. I got through a fair few over two days! Here they are:
Bushy – Old Bushy Tail – A very traditional bitter although I felt it seemed to be lacking in any real flavour.
Dancing Men – After the Storm – Aptly named for the Friday! This was very enjoyable. It was very smooth with a peaty whiskey like quality to the texture. A lovely session beer.
Elland – Pacifica – A citrus golden ale although to me it seemed a little off.
Fat Cat – Meow Mild – A fairly standard satisfactory mild.
Golden Triangle – Mosaic City – Another well bodied, flavoursome hoppy beer from the guys at Golden Triangle
Great Heck – Navigator – A lovely traditional bitter with a sweet hoppy kick.
Green Jack – Summer Dream – Elderflower infused golden ale, I like it but others may not!
Hop Studio – El Dorado – Very hoppy and bitter, not amazing.
Hopback – Taiphoon – With hints of lemongrass and coriander. Very bitter and quite frankly I found this horrible!
Humpty Dumpty – Reedham Gold – A lovely, light refreshing golden ale.
Humpty Dumpty – Lemon and Ginger – That citrusy tang didn’t quite work for me!
Humpty Dumpty – Red Mill – A really lovely traditional ruby. Crisp with sweet note.
Humpty Dumpty – Big Sharpie – A superb stronger version of Humpty Dumpty’s good session bitter Little Sharpie
Oakham – Scarlet Macaw – Typical Oakham hoppiness with a sharp dryness
Peerless Brewing Co. – Triple Blonde – Lovely hoppy wheat beer. The only beer I tried over two days. Friday’s tasting was significantly better!
Robinson – Twisted Sister – A hoppy golden but not the most pleasant half of it I have had.
Shiny Brewing Company – Wrench Stout – A delightfully rich stout
The other beers which were available can be found here: http://humptydumptybrewery.com/beer-and-cider-list/
So in conclusion, despite my grumbles this was an excellent festival and one of the best I have attended so far this year. The setting and atmosphere was relaxed and friendly. I would reccommend anyone in the East of England who loves their Real Ale to head to this one!