Vikings Take No Prisoners

My plans for a quiet night in the company of the latest Mills & Boon were scuppered. Eddie, the eager, legal beagle was back from his German jaunt and wanted to reacquaint himself with some proper beer. He’d been drinking far too much of that damn Boche beer. I begged to be excused, but he quoted some obscure EU directive at me and so I had to attend.

Our rendezvous was the Robert Peel, in the hope of securing some festival beers. My journey down was quite eventful with the bus driver punctuating the air with expletives urging the traffic to go faster and traffic lights to change colour. The reason for his haste soon became apparent when he informed the bus “Jesus, I think I’m going to piss myself.” Luckily, for all of us, this didn’t occur-a quick dash at the bus station merely left the waiting hordes bemused
I was expecting Eddie to turn up resplendent in his Hitler-Jugend uniform but, apparently, it’s at the dry-cleaners. There were several beers on offer, and I settled down to sample some as he enthralled me with tales of his encounters with strange German sausages. The Firestone was tried again, but there is little you can actually say about it, really. It seems a great waste of time and money to bring someone over from the USA just to brew such an average beer. ButcoBoldmbe Bitter (4%) was better, being an easy drinking, if unexciting, amber beer. Hooky Gold was also reasonable but I suspect a tad green. How else to explain the lack of hop punch, despite the presence of Willamette hops.

Much more interesting was Mikkel’s Viking Return. According to the tasting notes it’s amber in colour. Well, mine wasn’t. It’s definitely too dark in body to be recognised as amber. The aroma was interesting-a quick check revealed there to be 4 hops at work in the beer. Now I’m familiar with three of them-Cascade, Fuggles, and Galena which I know is a bittering hop. However, all I know about Glacier is that it’s a low alpha-acid hop, which makes me think it’s contributing to the nearly (but not quite) Cascade aroma of this beer. Taste wise it’s extremely bitter and would definitely be too much for some people. The most interesting festival beer I’ve come across so far.
Needing a change of scenery (and beer), we eventually moved onto the Trackside. A full board once more greeted us and we soon struck up a conversation with Dean, the barman-cum- cellarman. Eddie played safe with Elland Best which was light and easy going but lacking the hops you might expect. I tried Battledown Saxon without having a taster. After all, how bad could a pale 3.8% beer be? Well I soon found out. What a terrible beer. Too much crystal malt for a start and the finish was pure smoked peat. Only my professionalism ensured I could finish the pint. Was it a bad batch or are they simply another dodgy micro? I will certainly be wary of them in the future.

Talking of dodgy micros, Greenmill Firecracker was also on. Now they are a micro based in a snooker hall in Rochdale. With that pedigree there was only two possible outcomes. Either they would rise above their surroundings and produce some amazing beers. Or they wouldn’t. And they don’t. I know Greenmill Chief was on last week and was terrible. A lot of the time their beers won’t even clear. They only seem to survive on sympathy orders. Which brings me onto Camra’s LocALE scheme. Commendable in theory, but what are you supposed to do if some of your local breweries are shit? A thorny question of ethics that Aristotle would have wrestled with.

Of course some local breweries are excellent and Phoenix Last Leaf was also available. As was Bury’s own Outstanding Blond. This is a Pilsner type lager ale which, on this occasion, I think missed its intended mark. From the cellar I also tried Gardener’s Hop as recommended by Tandleman. It was acidic in taste but as it wasn’t ready for the bar yet, I will give it another chance. Eddie was obviously pining for the Fatherland now, so we finished with a couple of bottles of Jever which Dean insisted we drink out of barrel glasses. Then the dreaded last bell rang and it was time for Eddie to go home and satisfy the Manx Minx’s primal urge. Apparently she required a Pizza Pioneer special. Well that’s what he told me anyway.


Tandleman said…
" Which brings me onto Camra’s LocALE scheme. Commendable in theory, but what are you supposed to do if some of your local breweries are shit?"

Straight to the nub of the problem as always I see. I suppose you could just tell the brewery "we are leaving you out as your beer is shit". That'd do it.

My only experience of Greenmill was the Cobra Crystal Wheat which I liked. Seems I've been lucky.
Tyson said…
"I suppose you could just tell the brewery "we are leaving you out as your beer is shit". That'd do it."

Unlikely in reality, though. Camra has to be seen to be promoting all micros-even the dodgy ones. Of course, there's nothing to stop me naming and shaming them.

I look forward to trying the Greenmill at BBF as I've had no luck with them so far.
mark said…
Camra would soon lose support if it started grading breweries.You wouldn't be happy if you were named as a poor brewer would you? However a way round it might be to let members vote for their favourites and then produce a league table?
Tandleman said…
I had the Greenmill Treacle Toffee Stout last night in the Marble Arch. A bit lacking in condition, but a nice beer underneath.

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