National Winter Ales Festival: Progress Report

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!


Cooking Lager said…
Did any tight scotsmen buy you a pint?
Anonymous said…
I love warm beer
RedNev said…
I hate warm beer.
Steve Lamond said…
I think 113 UK breweries is more than enough and therewere plenty of light beers. Offbeat ipa very good.
Mark Haynes said…
Where you even there? Offbeat is 5.8% you muppet. Call that light and hoppy? Get a fucking life
Steve Lamond said…
5.8% may not be light in alcohol, but certainly light in body in comparison to those hard hitting stout. Nzpa is 6% after all. FYI my "fucking" life is eventful enough, its what I was doing whilst you were busy trolling in fact.

If you had more than one braincell you'd have thought to click on the link to my blog and seen for yourself I was there.

In conclusion, perhaps it is you who should get a life and if you want something light I hear they do greene king ipa pretty cheap down spoons.
Tyson said…

But it's not really just a numbers game, is it? If anything, the inclusion of 9 Fullers beers actually points to the fact that the festival should perhaps be smaller, but more varied.

I did say "light and hoppy" but Mark is probably correct in his, er, assumption that I didn't really have the likes of Oddball in mind.

However, even allowing for the likes of Oddball and NZPA-which are raritiedoesn't change the fact that there simply weren't "plenty of light beers". Unless your definition of "plenty" is different from mine:)


Don't be daft!
Steve Lamond said…
Yes, perhaps in comparison to a regular beer fest there are very few "session" pale ales but the key is in the name...winter ales fest. There were perhaps too many beers from sponsors, but if you are offered free beer that people like its difficult to say no.
Steve Lamond said…
By plenty I meant enough to go to when I wanted some variation. Though actually I had a fair few German beers instead. Eiche was particularly good, though that's neither light or hoppy!
Barry said…
Isn't it called the Winter Ales Festival because it's held in Winter? Can't comment on the light beer situation as I mainly stuck to dark beers. I think my favourite real ale was Goachers 1066 and favourite foreign was Kneitinger Dunklebock.

From my standpoint as a bit of a ticker, there were too many beers from some breweries, but I suppose I would say that:)
Steve said…
I went on Friday with a group of friends and found there was very little in the way of pale ales to drink.There should be a selection of all types of drink at a national beer festival like this.

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