Monday, 16 May 2011

Glad All Over!

Selhurst Park
So as previously mentioned last weekend was the first CPFC beer festival. The festival originally started as a small festival with just 500 tickets but ended up having over 1400 in attendance had been spurred on after requests from fans earlier in the season for Real Ale to be sold in the bars around the ground.

With the final list offering over 80 Ales and Ciders, spanning the length and breath of Britain from St Austell to Isle of Arran. (Although the initial beer list had promised 3 casks from Brew Dog, which I had been looking forward to showcasing to some friends and family for the first time had sadly been omitted from the final list) Held in the gangways and bar of our "kop end", The Homesdale Road stand it was a bit strange catching glimpses of an otherwise empty stadium.

For me there was only ever one option for the first beer of the the festival. Neil Morrisey's Palace Blonde 4.2% ABV and it didn't disappoint! I've not been a fan when I've previously tried Neil's beers but Palace Blonde was fantastic! With a beautiful golden colour and a sweet floral nose the taste was well balanced with a pleasant non overpowering bitterness, a perfect summer session beer. I really hope I get to taste this again!

Me and Oz Clarke
Spoilt for choice with Kelham Island Easy Rider 4.3% ABV and Castle Rock Harvest Pale Ale 3.8% ABV, which I had been disappointed with in its stronger bottled version but is proved why its the Champion Beer of Britain on cask. With the FA Cup Final being shown on TVs around the stand I was lucky enough to get a chance chat to Oz Clarke about his future shows with James May, including the hunt for great pork pies! Oh and of course great beer. Oz also agreeing that Palace Blonde was excellent and almost on cue we we're joined by Neil Morrisey, who was both elated and disappointed to discover that all 5 casks of his beer had sold out!

With the match over it was time to try a few more beers, other highlights were Toad M&R Chocolate Stout 4.6% ABV  and Darkstar Festival 5.0%.  However for me the beer of the day for me was local brewery Sambrook's Celebration Ale 4.9% brewed in celebration of Royal Wedding, amber in colour with a strong flora citrusy aroma leading to a lovely sweet taste of lemon and honey with a distinctive floral flavour.

By 7pm a black market in beer tokens was in force, the club having purposely sold enough to cover what was available, so wearily I headed home. The whole day had been brilliant, sampling great beer in view of the pitch of my favorite football team was a great experience, But you didn't have to be a Palace fan to appreciate the day, with local bands providing entertainment throughout the day as well as the now infamous Crystal cheerleaders performing a few of their routines. The debut Beer Festival was a great success so much so that I'm told plans are already a foot for an autumn festival later this year!

Wednesday, 11 May 2011

CPFC Beer Festival

Combining two of my favortie passisons beer and football, My team Crystal Palace are hosting a beer festival this weekend (May 14th)

Offering 40 Ales from the likes of Brew Dog, Darkstar & Oakham, As well as actor and Palace fan Neil Morrissey's "Palace Blond Ale"!  Which he has brewed specially  for the festival. Not only this but the festival is set to be opened by Alcohol connoisseur Oz Clarke!

Co-owner and ale and wine expert Steve Browett has also given an interview to Five Year Plan Fanzine
on the event

The Palace Beer Festival takes place this Saturday (the 14th of May) in the Red and Blue bar at Selhurst Park, from midday until 9pm. Tickets are available from the box office on 08712 00 00 71 or click here to book online.

Tuesday, 10 May 2011

My Russian Dynasty

Red Square
So its been a while since I've posted, mostly because I've been obscenely busy and also because I took a ten day trip to Russia over Easter.

My trip was never intended to beer centric, but holidaying or traveling inevitably means you're sure to have a few. My first port of call was St Petersburg, the beautiful baroque city built as a gateway to the West and Europe. Its also the home of Imperial Stout and Baltic Porter (see previous posts) my knowledge of the Russian language was limited to a few phrases which inevitably made ordering drinks at a bar difficult. Exchanging hand gestures for "big" or "small" became a common event. My first night I arrived late and headed for a beer and a bite to eat at Tinkoff. Tinkoff started as a micro brewery in St Petersberg but now is American owned and has brewpubs all over Russia. Sadly I wasn't impressed, with a dodgy wedding esq band playing to a near empty bar and a menu mostly consisting of Sushi (a common theme in Russia) not to mention the pint of Temnoe 6.0% which was sold as a Porter but actually was more of a weak Dunkel. I didn't stay long, heading back for a early night that turned into an all night drinking session with added Vodka.

Baltika 6
Since I was in St Petersburg I wanted to try a Imperial Stout or Baltic Porter. Things didn't look great when the staff in the hostel hadn't even heard of it! Luckily with limited Russian and a bit of luck in a local shop I found a bottle of Baltika 6 a Baltic Porter! This actually was a Porter, although not the best beer I've had, I was simply content on finding something! And for about a pound a bottle I stocked up.

A grueling 10 hour night train took me to Moscow and thanks to the synchronized snoring of the 3 men in my couchette, I got to sample vodka shots at 4am in the buffet car with some other nocturnal types! Moscow was instantly more Soviet, more Russian and overly more complicated!! Navigating across town on the metro was a skill in its self.  The overwhelming size of Red Square and the power hub of the Kremlin will always stick with me, As will my evenings sipping dark beers in some old stolovaya's (cafeterias) eating cheap food and watching sport! Zhiguli was with in spitting distance of my hostel harks back to the Soviet years and has its namesake beer Zhigulevskoe brewed on site.
Capitalism is alive and well in Moscow
CSKA Moscow & Spartak Moscow were playing at the 1980's Olympic stadium whilst I was in town and I was lucky enough to get a ticket the derby. CSKA Moscow play in Red & Blue the same colours as my team Crystal Palace and so I became a honorary fan for the day, getting to sample an atmosphere which was unrivaled on any level compared to a game in England.

To sum up the trip from a beer point of view, I was a bit disappointed hoping to find a bit more varied choice on offer. Local supermarkets were stocked up with English & Czech imports and having the choice of Wychwood Hobgoblin and a previously unheard of Bowman by Wells & Youngs in one bar, finding anything that seemed to be Russian was difficult. I'm guessing since the fall of communism in the early 90's the Russian market has been infiltrated with imported goods from the West. (My farther recalls mile long queues for Mc Donalds when he visited Moscow in '91) You only have to look at some of the cars parked near Red Square or the shops in the previously drab soviet shopping mall GUM, to understand that some Russians are making the most of their wealth.

But this wasn't ever supposed to be a beer holiday, it was a trip to discover and explore a vast and beautiful country! (Although I only took in its two major cities) It's one trip I'll never forget!

Check out some of my pictures here:

Russia Easter 2011