A session at the Ox

So, happy Naomh Pádraig’s (St Patrick to you) day. Ok, it’s a wee bit early, but there I was at the New Oxford St Patrick’s Beer Festival. A good excuse to drink some new brews and discuss why we don’t hear more about Brigid of Kildare. The usual motley crew was augmented by the Whitefield Holts Bandit who had just flown back, his holdall overflowing with towels from Edinburgh’s finest hostelries, and his collection of donkey-hide posing pouches.

Finding a seat proved impossible at first as the combination of after work drinkers and early afternoon lingerers was at its height. A group of lesser-spotted scoopers were ensconced in a corner and looked like they were there for the duration. Usually a benign pest, they really only come to the fore when they take up space best used by more serious drinkers. However, patience paid off and we were eventually able to secure seats handily close to the bar. Let the drinking commence…

As is the practice at the Ox (hence the scoopers), there were many breweries I hadn’t even heard of, never mind tried their beers. Now this is a double edged sword, as although it’s interesting to try new brews, a lot of brand new micros just don’t produce very good beer. However, they seem to do better with dark beers-perhaps because you can hide more faults in them.

Anyway, quality of the porters and stouts was pretty good. There was some confusion over whether some beers were correctly labelled, but here’s what I found anyway. Hornbeam Silver Moon Stout (4.2) was a little thin, but I don’t really rate them as a brewery anyway. Interestingly, the Bazens special didn’t have that smoky taste that all their regular beers seem to have now-something to ponder over. Red Rat Craft Brewery Crazy Dog Stout (6%) certainly delivered a rich, roast, coffee texture, but it was hard to choose a favourite of that style. More promising was the quality of light beers. Bees Brewery, from Leicester, have only being going about a month, I believe, and yet their Navigator (4.5%) hints at potential. Sawbridgeworth Selhurst Park Flyer (3.8%) was even better with a nice, crisp, edge. Best beer was Norfolk Cottage’s Golden Spring Ale (4.5%) which had the level of hops you would expect from a mature and experienced brewer. Strangest beer was Cherwell’s Crospredy Bridge (4.2%) which was pure TCP.

Soon it was time to leave my perch and head back towards the wonders of Bury. Arriving refreshed, it was time for a nightcap at the TS before finally being evicted into the cold night and the alluring lights of Pizza Pioneer.


Tandleman said…
How true about new brewers and new brewers and dark beer. I believe firmly in giving an accurate account of a beer. If it is shite from a micro (or anywhere else) we should say so.

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