Wikio - Top Blogs - Wine and beer The Real Ale Girl: April 2010

Tuesday 13 April 2010

A perfectly lovely beer festival.

Thursday night took us to the first day of the Bexley Beer Festival, so keen we were that we arrived twenty minutes before it opened. We were not alone, however, three young drinkers amongst a fellowship of retirees who clearly bought their Beer Fest T-shirts before they drank this much beer.
Bexley has always impressed me as a festival that manages its stock well- they always have all the beers on at the start of the festival, and despite attracting some crowds (it is only Sidcup), they usually manage not to sell out too quickly. I didn't find out how long it lasted though, standing  in front of the bar with ten other keenos at opening time in a state of ecstacy enduced by a full range to choose from. And I'd only had about 15 of the 60 or so beers tempting me. Good going Bexley dudes- rare beers from mini breweries from all over the place. I appreciate all the benefits of Locale, don'y get me wrong, but it is so nice to go to a London area festival and not be confronted with just Sambrooks and Shepherd Neame.
Williams from Alloa impressed us with both the Ceilidh Lager and Midnight Sun Porter, two very different but equally yumscious beers, one straw pale and nutty, the other with just enough ginger to give a sunny kick in the dark. Another bonza of this particular festival- they always get in lots of dark beers, milds, stouts and porters- when will other festival organisers realise just how popular they are now?
As the beers wowed us, I wowed everyone else with my badge making skills. The lovely Adrain, manning the make your own badge stall seemed suprised I'd never witnessed the machine's glory at a festival before. Has anyone? I'd love to hear from any of you who have made your own beer badges at a fest, we had slightly too much fun making ours, or maybe that when we knocked beer all over the stand playing the wooden slot game (what is that called, people?) Anyway, I am now sporting a rather fetching yellow Real Ale Girl badge with a home made caricature of myself. I might have to get myself one of those machines.
Had a good chat with the lovely man who runs the Dartford Working Mans club, and having established that the train goes there (!) will be attending their St George's day festival- come on down if you want to see my badge!
Anyhoo, better run, am in Swansea at the moment, and there is Rhymney to be consumed. But not before I say, big up Bexley dudes, hope the rest of the festival went well.

Thursday 8 April 2010

A Pineapple, a mug tree of beer and 5pm dancing. Easter!

Most folks spend Easter eating chocolate, but of course, for me, it is prime beer drinking time. A long weekend with beer festivals left, right and centre, with the odd sprinkling of sunshine to remind you that there is a use for beer gardens other than  freezing smokers' asses off.
We kicked off our festivities at the Pineapple in Kentish Town on Good Friday. With casks setup in the garden, and pie ploughmans' platters, I thought we'd stumbled our way to Kent itself. But the hip and groovy yoofs told us otherwise, even if only 1 in 5 of them were brave enough to move away from Stella.  After being shouted at by a punter becuase I was lucky enough to get money off using my CAMRA card, we proceeded to drink our way through all 24 beers available that day. Surprisingly for me, I went with a popular choice for my favourite of the festival- Derventio's Cleopatra- fruity (masses of apricot silkiness), pale and girly- all the things I usually avoid in an ale. But this one was something special, a perfect Easter treat. You could almost see the bunnies and chicks frolicking in it.
I also made a new celebrity pal, with Suggs being intrigued by my beer ticking antics - he'd clearly never met anyone who gets kicks out of trying new beers, and bombarded me with questions about festivals and ale, declaring to the barman "That girl has got it right! What a hobby!" He stuck to Hop Back Crop Circle for the afternoon, signing my beer list, rather than starting his own!
We finished off a perfectly good Friday wih another trip to the glorious Southampton Arms, where we made it through all the beers and most of the ciders. And still had room for some chocolate on the way home.
Saturday, and we are off to the airport, to Geneva, and the Alps. An Exmoor Gold in the Gatwick North Terminal Wetherspoons started off a trip of great beers- who knew the Swiss had so many beers around? The Austrian Gosser was a perfect accompaniment to fondue whilst Switzerland's own Feldschlossen Lager, whilst a bit bland and fizzy, was a treat after climbing 300 odd steps up the cathedral towers. We found two amazing brewpubs in Geneva, who mercifully both did tasting selections. At the brasserie du Molard, these tasters came on a mug tree for beer, and contained the intriguing Ambree, which was so good, even my mum had one.
 At Les Brasseurs, they had a special seasonal beer on, a bright, bright, bright red 'Spice beer' which was flavoured with what tasted like jalapenos and cinnamon. It was both delicious and hideous at the same time, I never quite decided whether I loved it or hated it.
From Geneva, we wound our way up and up and up into the Haute Alps and the land of ski, and more importantly, apres-ski. With a bit too much Grimbergen wiggling around inside, we made our way in a cable car from Brides les Bains to Meribel, the heart of  SkiBunnyVille.  Not wishing to take part in any activity involving voluntary breaking your own bones whilst hanging out up a mountain, the apres-ski is what I'm interested in. Especially when it invloves dancing to live music, drinking Mutzig Old Lager, at 6.9 % at 5pm. If it weren't for all the skiing, I could get into that lifestyle.