Sunday, 30 September 2007

Horsham Beer Festival 29th - 30th September 2007

This year saw a larger festival than previously, with three sessions over the weekend.

As usual, I was serving behind the bar for all the sessions, which gave me the opportunity to sample every one of the fifty real ales on offer.

It’s always a great weekend and this year was no exception. I met up with people that I only ever see at the festival but at last I’m beginning to remember their names now, as well as lots of friends from different areas of life.

I had a tough time deciding on my beer of the festival, and in the end feel I have to mention four that particularly stood out. Skinners Betty Stogs was an excellent bitter, Hepworth's Harvest Ale was a good strong hoppy beer, and Essential Beers Festival Special was delightful golden and moorish. Of course the festival would not have been complete without Sarah Hughes Dark Ruby which is one of the best beers on earth (see picture).

After the event, Gareth, the event organiser who runs the Beer Essentials beer shop on East Street in Horsham (see link on the right), told me that about 4,100 pints were sold and only a little beer was left over from the 84 barrels delivered for the event. This is now being sold in the shop.

Acorn Old Moor Porter (4.4%): Traditional porter. Very good.
Adnams Bitter (3.7%): Lovely dry hoppy session bitter.
Archers Farmers Boy (3.8%): A bit sharp with a hint of smokiness.
Arkells Kingsdown Ale (5.0%): Very malt heavy; rounded and smooth.
Arundel Sussex Mild (3.7%): Gorgeous and creamy if a little sweet.
Bateman's Valiant (4.2%): Very pleasant bitter.
Bath Gem (4.1%): Lovely malty bitter. Tastes stronger than it is.
Brains SA (4.2%): Creamy caramelly taste to this bitter. Very good.
Burton Bridge Golden Delicious (3.8%): Mellow and not too strong. A good beer to drink all night.
Caledonian Deuchars IPA (3.8%): Hoppy but weak beer.
Cotleigh Barn Owl (4.5%): Strong with a bitter flavour which continues to the aftertaste.
Cottage Metropolitan (4.7%): Fruity well balanced mellow bitter. Good but not dark coloured as described in the programme notes.
Downton Red Hop (4.3%): Pleasant malty red coloured bitter.
Elgoods Black Dog (3.6%): You’d have to do well to find a better mild than this at this strength. Even people who profess not to like mild were happily consuming pints of it.
Essential Beers Festival (5.0%): As always an excellent pint. One of my favourite beers.
Essential Beers Festival Special (4.2%): This gorgeous beer was made for the festival by blending Dark Star Hophead (which it tastes similar to but a little stronger) and Dark Star Sunburst. Fantastic beer.
Everard's Original (5.2%): Far too much alcohol and not enough flavour.
Exmoor Gold (4.5%): Slightly citrusy golden beer. Very tasty.
Felinfoel Best (3.8%): A delicate hop flavour to this Welsh session bitter.
Fuller's ESB (5.5%): Good flavour which copes with the high alcohol content.
Garton's Liquid Lobotomy (8.0%): A challenging black beer with a smooth start and tangy aftertaste.
Goddard's Ducks Folly (5.0%): Caramelly strong bitter.
Green Jack Ripper (8.5%): Excellent sweet strong beer with enough flavour to carry the alcohol.
Hadrian and Borders Gladiator (3.8%): Very malty red bitter with a crisp hoppy finish.
Hampshire Pink Elephant (5.4%): Unusual beer with a hint of the taste of red wine but no pink colour. Somehow this was voted “Beer of the festival” by drinkers over the weekend.
Hart Ice Maiden (4.0%): Pleasant bitter but with no distinguishing features.
Harviestoun Ptarmigan (4.5%): Very pleasant beer with a light spicy and zesty flavour.
Hepworth's Harvest Ale (4.5%): An excellent beer with a sharp hop taste. Almost tastes like an IPA.
Hogs Back HBB (3.7%): Mellow citrusy tones to this pleasant bitter.
Hop Back Entire Stout (4.5%): A very palatable and easy drinking stout.
Leyden Black Pudding (3.9%): Lovely creamy well balanced mild.
Moorhouse's Black Cat Mild (3.4%): Tasty mild with a mellow roasted malt flavour.
Oakham JHB (3.8%): Very fresh and citrusy beer with bitter undertones.
Oakleaf Green Gold (4.3%): Pleasant ‘chewy’ hoppy golden coloured bitter.
Old Bear Hibernator (5.0%): Seriously smoky dark beer.
Orkney Dark Island (4.6%): Dark Scottish beer with a chocolatey burnt malt taste.
Palmers Copper Ale (3.7%): Pleasant and hoppy beer.
Ringwood Fortyniner (4.9%): Tasty strong bitter.
St Austell Proper Job (4.5%): Very sweet bitter.
Sarah Hughes Dark Ruby (6.0%): Wonderful. I always look forward to drinking as much as possible of this mild at this festival. One of my favourites.
Sharp's Doom Bar Bitter (4.0%): Well balanced bitter with a good hop taste and hints of caramelly malt.
Skinners Betty Stogs (4.0%): The name put me off a bit but this was a delicious fruity hoppy bitter. An excellent find.
Thornbridge Jaipur IPA (5.9%): A lovely delicate IPA with a big hop and honey taste.
Timothy Taylor Golden Best (3.5%): Darker than most golden beers, this was thick tasting and disappointing.
Titanic Stout (4.5%): Lovely dark, bitter, roasty stout.
Wadworth 6X (4.3%): Fresh and fruity; well balanced.
Welton's Percy Bysshe (7.0%): This tastes like it’s got apples or some other fruit in it, and is good but a little strong with a strange murky brown colour.
Westerham British Bulldog (4.3%): Smells of roasted malt and tastes like excellent bitter.
Wickwar Autumnale (4.5%): A hint of burnt flavour to this popular yet thick dark bitter.
Wells and Youngs Waggledance (5.0%): Warming honey tones with some hoppiness are present in this strong bitter.

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