Beer festivals - good. No beer festivals - bad. Fortunately, last week was good. Yes indeed, for t'was the 26th CAMRA Cambridge beer festival. Naturally, purely in the interests of Beermonsterism, a team of brave volunteers set out to review this event. Taking the challenge of completing both morning (11.00 - 3.00) and evening (5.00 - 10.30) sessions was left exclusively to the intrepid beermonsters myself and Tom "Gerunkee" Dibbers. A complex but foolproof ranking scheme was drawn up over the first pint that I have endeavoured to explain below. The beers that are listed you are, I'm sorry to say, unlikely to find in your local pub, although if you do you should probably be offering sexual favours to the bar staff to ensure it stays there. You will, however, find them at many a CAMRA festival, of which there are many, and are listed in the links section of my main beer page.
That all important key....
About as perfect as beer can get. Move house closer to the brewery.
Excellent stuff. Would quite happily drink pints all day.
Good and tasty, would drink it again.
Better, but not worthy of a second pint.
A classic, dark beer. Well balanced between malt and hops from an initial fruitiness to a more bitter finish.
Hesket Newmarket; Blencathra Bitter.
Quite malty, but with a predominant dry, bitter taste.
Tigertops; Dark Wheat.
Well, a bit iffy... fruity and hoppy, but not especially drinkable. A light, summer beer.
City of Cambridge; Jet Black.
A mild beer, but almost jet black. Heavy, but full of flavour.
City of Cambridge; Boathouse Bitter.
A lighter, fresher beer. Uses Cascade hops for a refreshing citrus aroma.
City of Cambridge; Atomsplitter.
Very good indeed. Full of hop flavours, this is an amber beer full of character.
City of Cambridge; Parkers Porter.
Another high flyer from this region. Very dark beer, rich fruity flavours with a tangy aftertaste.
City of Cambridge; Bramling Traditional.
A classic winter beer. It takes its name from the Bramling hops used in the boil, resulting in a fruity, tasty ale.
Bridge of Allan; Stirling Bitter.
A light, fruity beer with a dry, hoppy aftertaste.
Another quite light beer, with plenty of fruity hoppiness. Light and summery.
Bateman; Spring Breeze.
A seasonal beer, light and fruity, supposedly representing the feel and flavour of spring.
Hesket Newmarket; Skiddaw Special Bitter.
City of Cambridge; Hobsons Choice.
A champion beer from the 1997 festival, light and golden with a bitter aftertaste.
Fenland; Sparkling Witt.
Very fruity, light and easy going.
Tolly Cobbold; IPA.
Tinny. Succinct descriptions from Tom - maybe it was near the end of the session...
Bridge of Allan; Stirling Bitter.
Bitter. Another masterful description from Tom!
Bridge of Allan; Springtime.
Medium hoppy, fruity light bitter.
Hopback; Sign of Spring.
Another light, golden summer beer.
In addition to the selection of beers, there was also some cider to be tasted. Rather than risk sanity and stomach lining myself, the Beermonster's Guide brought in its resident cider taster, Emma, to do the honours. As it were. Don't forget to check out Em's cider review section on the main cider page.
Slightly acidic, similar in appearance to a urinary tract infection. It is produced in the Forest of Dean by a contract sheep shearer...
Mature cider, with a nice tang.
Produced naturally, and matured in oak. Sweet and watery.
Lyme Bay Jack Rat.
A 2 year vintage with a strange, sherbert tang.
Old Rosie Scrumpy; Herefordshire.
Cloudy, and fairly bland. (although 7.3%!!)