2011 London Drinker Beer & Cider Festival - the lowdown

Posted on: 23 March 2011 by Alexander Hay

Beer, more beer and cider is given a thorough review and then some at this year's instalment of the CAMRA boozefest

Lots of beer here, apparentlyMaking my way into the 2011 London Drinker Beer & Cider Festival, I noticed a board with some adjustments made regarding the beers on offer. One of these was Brodie's Brainwave, which came in at only 2.9% vol. A beer that doesn't get you plastered? Maybe that was the big idea.

The event itself was at the Camden Centre in London, and took place in a worn out-looking cross between a school hall and a ballroom, albeit one with plenty of balconies for those who've ever wanted to spy on Real Ale fans with a pair of binoculars.

Most of the beers were unavailable as the event was closed except for trade (and journalists). The upside was that whatever beers and ciders were available, were free! I took full advantage, and here – in order – are the drinks I sampled:

Chiswick Bitter (Fullers) - Initally tart and, well, bitter. Yet a deep country taste of flowers and sour fruit soon emerged. Light on the palate nonetheless.

Camden Town Pale Ale (Camden Town Brewery) - Usually, I associate Camden with goth pubs that won't let you in because you're wearing jeans. That didn't stop this cheeky little number being very perfumed, with a rich, almost sweet taste. Not much depth but what is there is very enjoyable.

Troggi Cider (WM Watkins, Monmouthshire) – I'm not ordinarily a cider fan. But this wonderful Welsh perry was more than quite tolerable and sweet with hints of home-made wine. It went down well and without aftertaste.

Fullers London Porter (Fullers) – Just before I took a sip, one of the beer kegs in the closed section of the festival decided to erupt in a beer fountain. Everyone cheered. The porter itself was rich, malty and milky, but 'wet' enough in taste to not be overpowering. I was asked by the barman to hold it up to the light. I saw beautiful shades of amber, red, purple and warmth.

Scary Peary (Merry Moon, Kent) – This perry was very mild. Perhaps too much so, with only a vague alcohol kick at the end to suggest it was ever there.

Junction (Sambrook Brewery) - Simultaneously a bit nondescript and a bit bitter, without much else. Something of a flop on the tongue.

Blackney Red (Day's Cottage, Gloucestershire) – A perry that was a bit strong and vinegary. (At 7.2%, were you expecting anything else?) Sharp and deep but mainly it packs one heck of a punch.

Amarillo (Brodie's) - Refreshing and light, yet blessed with a sweet-bitter resonant taste. Very reasonable, give or take an aftertaste that can outstay its welcome.

Two Trees (Gwyntddraig, Pontypridd) – This perry had a bit of a rough autumn woodland smell, but it did go down well and was quite pleasant in taste, and fruity too.

Citra (Brodie's) - Suitably rich in taste but perhaps a little too bitter and sharp. In essence, it's a beer to be experienced, but not one to be be savoured.

Swallowfield (Turners Barn) - It's worth noting how slurred and wonky everyone was at this point. The perry itself was strong, but acceptable if too sharp on the tongue.

Hotspur (Redemption) - A complicated, enjoyable little number. It didn't last long but it blazed on the tastebuds while it did.

Sadly, the trade session had ended, as did the free beer, and the public started streaming in again. On the upside, the rest of the beer was now available and I tried the following before retreating for my liver's sake:

Barnsley Gold (Acorn Brewery) – It was warm and sensuous with a comforting smell. Medium strength and rather adorable.

I then tried the tombola – five goes, and if you drew a number with a '1' in it, you won a prize! I didn't. The gentleman manning the tombola imparted his wisdom, saying that, as a rule, if you don't get a 1 in the first three goes, the last two won't bring you any joy either. I wondered if that was a lesson in life I'd just received. Then I bought another beer.

Alleycat (Ascot) – This was very mild, perhaps too much so. But at least it doesn't outstay its welcome and was refreshingly tangy.

And it was at this point that I realised I really couldn't write much more, at least in English. I could certainly still drink though, but this is were we must draw a veil...

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Alexander Hay

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