in a very lucky turn of events I was given the opportunity to help someone with some BSc research - ironically, it was regarding poverty in full time work. As someone choosing to pay off all my debts in three years, although therefore self induced, that is an area I have some experience of. Two pints and £10.00 cash later, I was in a position to use the last of my funds and to attend the above event the next day.
Whats more, given that this was an exclusively "cask" beer festival, the prices were a little lower, so my meagre crumbs of finance stretched that little bit further. Mind you, I had to drink cask. Oooh, Evil cask, Evil cask. Get you with yer evil cask. Why doesn't that cost £5.00 a half then yer cheapskate? With yer filthy clear beer with hideous natural features such as yeast, hop debris and fish guts. Pfft. Spending a more reasonable sum of money on fun. What next?
You see? This type of nonsense is just that, whichever angle you come from......
Back to matters festular and Adam had once again used his knowledge and influence to persuade brewers to brew previously keg and can only beers on cask. And they were absolutely fantastic. I started with a half of the Howling Hops All about the mosaic. In a moment of insensibility I had thought the beer featured 50kg of dry hopped mosaic! Since that is more than half my weight am guessing it would make a rather thick beer. Instead, the Howling Hops brew was very easy to drink and packed with a massive, although more reasonable 500g, of mosaic dry hops. Mosaic is a firm lupuloid favourite of mine and this beer started the night off perfectly.
I was sat with Steve and Sonya, who was on the Beer Ink Berry superstitious mixed berry sour, which was a vibrant pink red in colour and incredibly well balanced. Steve meanwhile was on the Rad Beets, a Lost Industry and Shakespeares staff colab featuring horseradish and beetroot in a 6.4% porter. It was very interesting, but I didn't try a half myself (so am hoping its still on Monday when I get paid...)
My next beer was the best of the night by a country mile. I had previously tried and enjoyed North Brew Co Transmission, a 6.9% pale ale in can and on keg. In cask it was frankly exceptional. Obviously with all that hop it looked like soup but it was super fresh and incredibly well balanced. At £4.50 a pint I could have had three pints and gone home, but other beers required trying and enjoying. Although I did get a second half....
Next up the double dry hopped Almasty IPA at 6% came straight from the cellar. It was wonderfully juicy, and lovely and fresh straight from the cask. I joined S.O.J and his friends Pete and the man with a head and I managed to have a half of the Steel City and Hopjacker High IBU dry hopped New Zealand New England IPA at 6.5%. This did not disappoint, and the New England style fitted the peppery spice of the New Zealand hops perfectly.
My penultimate beer was a pint of the excellent Transmission, soaring away as perhaps the best cask beer of the year, and I also got to try some of Steve's Steel City The Blood, the wine, the roses, a sumptuously tasty red wine barrel aged stout. As the conversation in the school room became more involved I was able to secure a final pint, of the Transmission once again, which I finished off with S.O.J and his friends with my hair down, a sure sign I was a trifle refreshed.
Assuming there is still some beer left the festival runs until Sunday, and in total there are thirty festival beers plus others that have been available to try.
A big well done to Adam, Chris and the rest of the staff at Shakespeares for another wonderful selection of stellar local and national beers during which jamboree of choice I was not once tempted to choose a beer on keg. Although that will all change on Monday....one must drink Evil to be good, after all....