The National Winter Ales Festival is now well underway. Anyone who is anyone in the beer world, wants to be someone or just knows someone, is there, has been there or is planning to go. Unless, of course, they have something better to do.
How’s it going so far? Well the doors opened on Wednesday afternoon and with potentially around 300 cask available, there certainly seemed a lot to go at. First things first, quality-as you’d hope/expect was good. And there wasn’t a problem with finding a quaffable dark beer. Everything from the overall champion beer-Driftwoods Alfie’s Revenge, to my pick of the speciality beers-Amber’s Orange Chocolate Stout went down well.
There was more of a problem finding something light and hoppy to quench the palate. Despite being a minority at a festival like this, I was hoping to unearth a new gem or two. Sadly, the contenders didn’t really rise much above the mediocre gauge and the Imperial Blonde was distinctly amateur hour. Luckily there were the likes of Acorn and Allgates NZ Cascade to cushion the blow. Not forgetting the sublime Hawkshead NZPA.
However, that’s just me. A more general criticism I heard levelled against the event on more than one occasion was the number of beers per brewery. And it’s one that I do have some sympathy with. There are reasons for it, of course, but too many breweries had four or five beers allocated to them. And allowing Fullers to have nine on just seems, frankly, daft.
Anyway, that’s enough of wasting valuable drinking time. This afternoon we are engaged in the serious business of sampling the foreign beers. Op uw gezondheid!