Friday, 14 October 2011

Grape & Grain Autumn Beer Festival

So I've been living in the threshold of Crystal Palace for over a year now and one of the first events I attended was the Grape and Grains first beer festival. A year on and this now bi annual event has come on leaps and bounds. Offering over 60 Cask Ales including Westerham Rick's Birthday Bitter 4% ABV brewed especially for landlord Rick's birthday on the Sunday of the festival!!

We headed in for last orders on Friday night, knowing that we were set to return with friends for a Saturday evening session.
Art Brew Smokey Bastard 5.5% ABV named after a band of the same name. This beer poured jet black and as the name suggest was beautifully smokey. A deep rich chocolate taste with a lovely silky smokeyness I could have happily drank this all night, but alas final orders were soon called.

Returning the following evening, the festival was already in full swing and after one day already several casks were missing, including to my disappointment Fyne Ales Jarl, but there were still several for us to sample.

Acorn Gorlovka Imperial Stout 6% ABV a rich aroma of chocolate, liquorish and raisin. Tastes fruity with a strong hit of alcohol, synonymous with Imperial Stouts. With the taste lasting for the duration and developing as the beer warms. A great addition to the festival even if it was overlooked by my friends.

Sticking with the dark porters and stouts, Beowulf Brewery Finn's Hall Porter 5.2% ABV has a wonderful smokey aroma with a well balance hoppy taste with hints of vanilla coming through.

And of course several other beers were sampled throughout the night, but as well as the beers the brilliant band The Twilighters delighted the punters with there 60's inspired swing/surf rock which were a delight to watch and got everyone toe tapping! 

I'm lucky to live so close to The Grape & Grain and Rick and co have done an amazing job with building the pubs reputation. The first beer festival had around 30 ales growing to 40 for their spring festival earlier this year, to organise and rake up 60 casks is no mean feat! I can't wait to see how the events develop next year!
If you ever venture into SE19 be sure to drop in for a pint, I'm sure you wont be disappointed.

Wednesday, 12 October 2011

Summer time and the crap! (belated)

So its been months since I last posted! I've been busy & lazy and a whole other load of excuses, but here is a post I started to write at the end of August and never got round to posting.

Great British Beer Festival:
The start of a very long day
I guess I'm always lucky that the Great British Beer Festival falls on or around my birthday. It makes organising a night out considerably easier when you do the same thing every year!
This year however I attended on both the Thursday and Friday, having found previous years that all the beers I had planned to try had gone.
Heading with Tom (the other one!) after work on the Thursday, we made a b-line straight for the Sans Frontier bar, looking in wonder at the vast array of American and World beers on offer. Seeing as it was International IPA day we started on a beautiful American IPA

Moozying about off to the SIBA stand, which rather surprisingly was mainly staffed by a group of young blond girls! A far cry from every other bar at the festival.

Thornbridge are always firm favourites with us & with Tom having connections at Thornbridge Hall it would clearly be rude not to sample. Raven - a Black IPA having earlier read Rodger Potz attack at the style in CAMRA's Beer Magazine.

Then I stumbled upon Grey Ghost IPA, my beer of the festival. Having tasted and thoroughly enjoyed Dark Peak Stout in the past, I was intrigued about this new brewery. All I can say is from the two beers I've now sampled is wow! Grey Ghost was full of hops sweet citrus flavours

I also finally got to pick up a bottle of Hitachino Nest Japanese Classic Ale as well a few bottles of Mikkeller. After this my notes became a bit bury, and so day one came to a close.

The Friday is always so busy,as such our plan of action was to arrive late afternoon decamp at a table and await our many friends coming to celebrate my birthday. Our plan worked magnificently, perched to the side of the stage, with in spitting distance of the Czech and German beers (which suited my "Ale-phobic" friends)

With a perfect view point for Ade Edmonson's set with his band The Bad Shepherds, the night quickly descended into a drunken blur. Some of the beers I can remember were:

Pivivar Kocour Svetly Lezak 4.6% ABV - a beautiful Traditional Czech lager, golden colour with a full flavoured hoppy aroma and rich foamy head.

KlásternĂ­ Pivovar Strahov 16 IPA 6.3% ABV -  half Czech lager half American IPA, amazing sweet hoppy taste with a refreshing carbonation.

Clipper City DIPA Double IPA 10% ABV - amber in colour with a big nose of citrusy hops. Big hoppy flavour with a pleasant sweet aftertaste.

Oh and of course there was Stone Chipotle Smoked Porter 5,9%ABDV!! So hot they were only selling this in halves. Smelt smokey peppered tasted smokey and then the chili hit and simply came on coming. Glad i got to try this one but never again!!

Overall I had a fantastic birthday and a great way to celebrate getting close to a 30 Something Blogger!!!
Oh and thankfully I wasn't purchased and balloon hat this year! (thanks guys)

The final highlight to the "Summer" came the following weekend at LeeFest. 6 years ago our friend Lee was told he couldn't have a house party, while his parents were away on holiday. Being the crafty chap he is, he realised that they didn't ban him form having a festival! 6 years later and now on a farm rather than a suburban
back garden, LeeFest has made it on the the scene. This year spanning two days & featuring headliners including Fenech Solar, British Sea Power & the chat topping DJ Fresh along side a host  local up and coming bands was the best year yet.

A great summer, shame about the weather though!