The home made Hooky beer festival, July 2017

You may recall from last year that we went to the Hook Norton beer festival. A festival in a field on a farm. With poorly kept beer. And not much else going for it, apart from the company. We returned to the area this year, but with a different plan.

A very simple plan. We would hold our own beer festival, supplying our own beer. I even made tasting notes. Probably more detailed than they needed to be, but I’ve been exposed to plenty of Sean’s tasting notes now and it was good fun putting them together. They follow below, and then I’ll move on to the round up of the beers we had.

First, a note about sour beers…

Traditional sour beers are usually created through mixed fermentation of the beer after it has boiled. This mixed fermentation can be simultaneous (traditional yeast, wild yeast, and bacteria added all at the same time), or sequential in a separate vessel. In this case, a beer will be fermented traditionally with common brewer’s yeast until it is at or near completion. This beer will then be transferred into barrels (usually oak, sometimes stainless steel tanks) where wild yeasts and bacteria will begin to re-ferment the beer, consuming sugars that traditional yeasts are unable to eat.

One byproduct of this secondary fermentation by bacteria is lactic acid, which, along with acetic acid and other organic acids, is responsible for souring the liquid. This process often takes a long time, from months to years, but yields a complex final product that can be served as-is, or mixed with young beer to temper the sourness and add complexity (the Belgian style Geuze uses this technique). These beers will continue to develop and sour with time, including in the bottle.

If you don’t have time to wait for a beer to age in the barrel, then you can use a kettle souring process, in which the lactic acid is generated by a primary fermentation of a bacterial culture (often lactobacillus, which could come from a lab or even yoghurt) for several hours (all the way up to a few days) before a final boil is conducted to kill the bacteria, halt the production of lactic acid, and continue with a secondary fermentation by traditional yeast.

Gose is a top-fermented beer that originated in Goslar, Germany. It is brewed with at least 50% of the grain used being malted wheat. Dominant flavours in gose include a lemon sourness, an herbal characteristic, and a strong saltiness (the result of either local water sources or added salt). Gose beers typically do not have prominent hop bitterness, flavours, or aroma. The beers typically have a moderate alcohol content of 4 to 5% ABV.

That’s the science bit, now the beers…

Thornbridge – Tart – 6% – sour ale

A “Bakewell sour” brewed in collaboration with Wild Beer Co., Tart pours a golden yellow colour with a white head, and is refreshingly tart and dry with a combination of citrus hops and flavours of grapefruit and bitter lemon. The name Tart is inspired by the Bakewell delicacy where Thornbridge are based and accurately describes the flavour of the beer in a single word.

Dugges – Tropic Thunder – 4.5% – sour ale

Tropic Thunder is a joint effort with nomadic brewer Brian Strumke of Stillwater Artisanal. This sour ale was brewed with lactobacillus and fermented with plenty of mango, passion fruit and peaches to produce something akin to an alcoholic Rio.

In 2002 Mikael Dugge Engström had a meeting with an Englishman, who was in the business of selling second hand breweries. This got Mikael thinking. How cool would it be to have your own brewery and brew your own beer?

With all the energy of a man possessed Mikael started studying Swedish alcohol legislation (which is pretty extensive), read up on everything and anything he could find on brewing beer and going on visits to anyone who would have him, getting tips and making friends. All while he started buying the parts needed to build a small brewery. In 2005, he opened one. In 2010 he moved to a bigger one. In 2017 he doubled capacity again.

Modern Times – Fruitlands Blood Orange and Hibiscus sour – 4.8% – Gose

Fruitlands is tart, fruity & frighteningly delicious. The sour, salty base beer lays down the funky refreshment, while a heavy dose of blood oranges & hibiscus turns the whole thing into a wall-to-wall citrus fiesta, with tart, floral notes from the hibiscus adding beautifully to the profile. It’s a marvelous mix of elements that collides with your mouth like a fruit-filled asteroid of flavor traveling at the supersonic speed of party.

Modern Times is a brewery from the Point Loma neighbourhood of San Diego, named after a beautifully crazy utopian community founded in 1850. Almost all of their beers are named after real utopian experiments or mythological utopias.

Wild Weather – One Eyed Iain Salted Caramel Porter – 6.2% – English porter

A collaboration with Electric Bear, where rich malts flow around a sweet caramel base creating waves of decadence as your tongue experiences each flavour. This is driven home by a slight salted note to awaken both the nose and mouth.

Boom! Came the sound of the thunder, and as the rain came down like beads bouncing from the mash tun, Wild Weather Ales was born! Brewed in Silchester (just outside Reading) and drawing inspiration from new world hops, Germany’s malts and beer styles from across the globe, Wild Weather Ales vow to make your drinking experience as enjoyable as their brewing.

Now with their own on site canning line, collaborations with some of the UK’s most inspirational brewers, and being more and more readily available nationwide Wild Weather is experiencing wild growth.

“Striking branding” you might say. Wild Weather say thank you, but they can hardly take all the credit. When they approached the punk artist and guitarist from the London punk band MÜG he jumped at the chance to have his work displayed across some of this fair land’s greatest drinking establishments.

Cloudwater Brew Co – DDH IPA Citra – 6% – India Pale Ale

DDH stands for “double dry hopped”. Cloudwater has doubled the amount of hops in this IPA to bring you the brewery’s first DDH IPA. Fermented with WLP4000 yeast and dry-hopped with Citra, Amarillo, Chinook and Centennial (big name American hops). WLP4000 yeast was isolated from a uniquely crafted double IPA from the the USA and produces a balanced fruity ester profile of peaches and light citrus that complements any aggressively hopped beer.

Dry hopping is the process of adding hops to a beer to add more of a hop aroma. Traditionally, dry hopping is done in beer styles like pale ales and IPAs, but brewers are utilising this process in many other styles as well. Since you are not boiling the hops, you won’t be extracting any of the oils from them, and therefore will not be contributing to the beer’s bitterness. What you will be adding are hop flavour and aroma. If you are a big hop fan, dry hopping is a must.

At the heart of Cloudwater Brew Co is a deep love for the changing seasons, each bringing with it an invitation to enjoy the scarcity and abundance the natural world offers. Cloudwater want to showcase the ebb and flow by using seasonal ingredients at their very best, and taking inspiration from the change of lifestyle each season creates.

Boundary Brewing Cooperative – Joyous Abandon – 4.8% – Saison

Joyous Abandon is their first bottled mixed fermentation Saison. Using a house culture, they aged this Raspberry Saison in a Pinot Noir barrel and allowed the critters to do what they do best. This beer is the future.

Boundary Brewing Cooperative are a Cooperative Brewery in Belfast owned and run by their members. Opening in 2014, they are the first brewery in NI to bring together modern US styles with the more traditional Belgian/French style beers.

That was just our beer selection. Matt & Steve also brought beers. We alternated between offerings from our various selections. No overall plan, just whatever we felt like.

Printemps from Unity Brewing (a nettle saison) which kicked off our evening (good with fish’n’chips), Project Barista : Turkish from Siren (a big coffee beast), Zuur Goosberry (gooseberry sour) and Mangomarillo from Watsons Brewery in Essex (fruity mango flavours, but not an IPA). We mixed things up with a little Tropic Thunder from Dugges (alcoholic Lilt).

The beer of the festival came next. Intensified Barrel Aged Coffee Porter from Brooklyn Brewery finally showed me what bourbon barrels are for. Making a great beer like this one. We were all blown away by this one. Apart from Hazel (who produced the facial reaction of the festival) and Mrs MOFAD (who was equally unimpressed).

More coffee came next with a Northern Monk patrons project collaboration, morello cherry and Peruvian coffee imperial porter. More coffee bitterness, but the cherry comes through very late.

That was day one. I started off day two with my Cloudwater DDH IPA Citra, which was absolutely fantastic. A hoppy juice bomb that was perfect with my spicy dhansak.

We went sour to kick things off for everyone, with another Vibrant Forest, this time Zuur Rhubarb, which was very pleasant.

Trolltunga from Buxton Brewery was up next, coincidentally we had opened some just two days before. It was just as good 🙂

My bottle of Joyous Abandon was next, a raspberry saison which would be perfect in summer. I know that it is summer, but it wasn’t quite summery enough today.

Back down south next for Tellicherry from Winchester’s Red Cat Brewing, a peppercorn wheat beer. I couldn’t detect the pepper anywhere.

Steve’s Portugese import was next, Coral Tónica from Empresa de Cervejas da Madeira. We’d all had worse, but it didn’t exactly set the world on fire.

Another Red Cat next, Naked Sour (that should get some more hits on this post), a simple and unadulterated sour.

We moved on to Essex next, for Watsons Imperial Black Otter. Allegedly a black IPA or Cascadian dark ale, the nose promises loads of hops, but they are weirdly absent from the palate. A nice dark ale, but I really wanted to taste all of those hops that my nose told me were present.

To round things off, we returned to yesterday’s lovely Project Barista : Turkish from Siren.

It is fair to say that our Hooky beer festival was way better than the official one last year. Great beers, well kept (in bottles and cans) and a good array of styles and flavours. We had all curated some of our favourite styles alongside a few different things. Thanks to Matt & Steve for their selections.

Looking forward to doing it all again in a few months! Already got some good ones lined up 🙂

Wollaton Cricket Club – the sixth annual beer festival

A departure from the norm here. An advert. I am not for sale, but when Comrade Chairman (a former colleague) comes calling then the rules can be bent a little bit. Next weekend there is a beer festival occuring. I can’t be there, but maybe you can.

Wollaton Cricket Club would like to invite you to join them for their sixth annual beer festival, at the Wollaton Sports Association Ground from the evening of Thursday 25th May until Bank Holiday Monday 29th May.

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The festival will offer beer and cider drinkers a choice of up to 20 fantastic quality ales and ciders from a wide range of the country’s best breweries.

Prices start from under £3.00 a pint, with the bar open from 6.00pm until 11.00pm on Thursday 25th May, 12 noon until 11pm Friday-Sunday, and 12-6pm on Monday 28th May.

There is outdoor seating available, from where you will be able to enjoy your tasty beverage whilst watching the weekend’s cricket at one of the most picturesque grounds in the county.

You can also tuck into some food with your beer. There will be a BBQ on the Friday evening and other delicious snacks such as pasties and samosas, from local suppliers, available during the festival.

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The Wollaton Sports Association Ground is situated on Wollaton Road, NG8 2AN, and is only a two-minute walk away from the NCT 30 and Trent Barton Rainbow bus stops.

Enjoy cricket and beer, a match made in heaven.

Easter Monday lunch, The Old Hall Hotel, Hope, April 2017

Easter Monday traditionally sees a visit to the pub for lunch. This is a tradition in Mrs MOFAD’s family, and is something we have done together for many years. It is often followed by some form of sporting activity, usually a game of rounders or cricket. Weather permitting. I say weather permitting, but we have been known to play on a snowy pitch before now. Not for a good few years now though, we’ve had quite a few mild Easters.

This year’s gathering just happened to be taking place at the Old Hall Hotel in Hope. Venue for the Hope Valley Beer and Cider festival that has been mentioned already on this blog. Pure coincidence surely? Or all part of the caring, sharing MOFAD plan to allow others to sample local ales? The MOFAD is all about the sharing 🙂

Mrs MOFAD began today’s proceedings with Elderflower by Pulp, from the beer festival tent outside. It was sweet with elderflower hints.

My choice was JW Lees Manchester Pale Ale, an inoffensive golden ale. If the name is familiar, that could be because you’ll often find their yeast strains in beers from Cloudwater Brew Co.

On to the starter next, and just like the last time we came here for Easter Monday, it was a pate which was supposed to be served with a pear chutney, but this didn’t materialise… The pate was nice though, with a few cheffy smears  of balsamic glaze having to make up for the lack of chutney.

Another drink to accompany the main course, this was Plane Jane by Long Hop, a gentle blonde ale.

Mrs MOFAD had a Tempted Medium Sweet from Tempted Irish Craft Cider, which was quite dry and would probably work better with a curry.

On to the main course, and just like the starter, it was similar to the one in 2015. The biggest difference was probably that it was served on a plate this year, and not a board! Hurrah! A nice piece of fish with a nice pesto crust, sweet potato chips and small bowl of peas.

Instead of pudding, I finished off my meal with a Sleepy Badgers by Little Critters from Sheffield, a smooth stout with chocolate notes.

Another pleasant trip to The Old Hall, everyone enjoyed their meals.

Old Hall Hotel, Hope, Beer Festival day 1, April 2017

We find ourselves back in Hope. A lovely little village with some lovely pubs, and good accommodation. And on each Bank Holiday weekend, a beer festival. We’ve been to this one a few times before, and it’s something that brings us back here. It’s a classic cask ale beer festival, with a decent selection of ciders too.

Tonight was the first night of the festival, and we popped in for a few drinks before going off to pick up a curry.

First up, Full Moon from Chantry Brewery, a hoppy, floral and bitter pale ale, very gentle.

Mrs MOFAD opted for this Mango from Broadoak. The clue is in the name. Sweet, sweet mango flavours. Very easy drinking. Scarily so!

My next beer was so good, it didn’t get photographed. Dark Peak from Howard Town Brewery is a rum infused porter – fruity, sweet and a smack in the mouth with a boxing glove dipped in rum. It was really nice. Looking forward to having a few more beers here over the weekend…

Summer House Beer Festival, October 2016

There is of course no such thing.

This “beer festival” was a self-curated drinking session featuring myself and regular MOFAD drinking companions Matt & Steve. We had a focus on dark beers tonight, and we had all brought a selection of bottles with us to share and try.

We started with Umbral Abyss by Vibrant Forest Brewery (procured by Matt). Whilst it lacked the now legendary Vibrant effervescence, there were good smooth coffee notes running through this one. Definintely one for coffee-ists like Bruce and Alec.

I took a quick turn away from the darkness here, for another Vibrant Forest brew, a Radicale Belgian Zuur Bier, which was tart but mellowed nicely – a good sour beer.

We stayed with Vibrant Forest for their Black Forest, which was a piquant porter indeed.

We moved on to some of my bottles next with an Imperial Brown Stout London 1856 by The Kernel Brewery, which was thick, brown and very chewy. We then moved on to Export Stout London 1890 by The Kernel Brewery, another of mine, which was very dark and very delicious. One of my beers of the night for sure.

This was followed by another favourite, a Bourbon Oktober again by Vibrant Forest Brewery. The second time I’ve had this big bourbon vanilla beast this year.

A mis-step next. We opened two bottles of Belgian Dubbel by Vibrant Forest. The first was very flat and tasted pretty off. The second had more carbonation but was still not right. We should have been getting raisins and similar but we just had to pour them away. Something not right with the batch perhaps?

And as you do, we finished with coffee. Guatemalan Coffee Extra Porter by Buxton Brewery to be precise. Massive coffee nose, big coffee flavours and some vanilla too. This was also a highlight of the evening.

It’s fair to say that our curated and self-hosted mini beer festival was a success. Buy beers, share beers with friends. It’s a great way to spend an evening.

Wicked Hathern Fest, August 2016

This blog is almost always about food and drink, and Wicked Hathern Fest has already generated two posts about food and drink (Pete on the Street and The Hog Stop). However, I wanted to write a quick post about the festival itself, as there are some other bits and pieces to write about.

Primarily a mini music festival, there is plenty of other stuff going on. This year there was a stage with acts specifically for children, craft stalls and people exhibiting cars. You’ll notice sponsorship from a local car dealer, pretty hard to miss. This is a sign that the festival is growing. There was also a comedy stage which sadly clashed with the main headliners – a shame as there were some good acts from the circuit on.

Unsurprisingly for a village with a brewery (although not represented here) there is a beer tent, this year “curated” by a local pub. Unfortunately, when we arrived at around 4pm many of the ales had already gone. However, this running out of alcohol also had an interesting effect later on, because the filth known as Strongbow ran out, and people were being forced to drink real cider. Although they appeared to be unprepared for the increased ABV of the more flavoursome beverage…

And so on to the music. If you had ever told me that I would one day see a Grammy-nominated Motown star performing in a field on the outskirts of a sleepy Midlands market town, I would have laughed at you for at least an hour. In fact if you had told me that *I* would ever see that star performing anywhere outside of the USA I would probably have also chuckled quietly to myself for a bit…

As well as local bands performing original songs and covers, including 1980s covers band We Tried Kylie (who play no Kylie but are great) and indie covers band The Zufflers (who definitely play no Kylie but are also great), tonight there were two headline acts. First up were 1990s indie kids Dodgy, who decided to perform quite a lot of new and unreleased material to a not all that interested audience. They were an ok band who never really set the pulse racing, and that was replicated tonight.

On to the real headliners then. How on earth do you get Martha Reeves and the Vandellas (Lois and Delphine, who are just two of Matha’s many sisters) to turn up to a field just off the A6? No, I have no idea how the organisers did it either, but they did.

Martha Reeves and the Vandellas were brilliant. She is 75. You would never know. Full of energy and obviously having a great time, she was even impressed by meeting the mayor before the show.

She arrived on stage in a Native American head dress, opening with Jackie Wilson’s “(Your Love Keeps Lifting Me) Higher and Higher”. She was quick to remind everyone that Hathern was a long way from Detroit, Michigan (in case we weren’t aware). Another cover soon followed, an odd choice of George Harrison’s lovely Beatles song “Something”, which was nice but not a big crowd pleaser.

Plenty of her most famous songs throughout the set too, including Heat Wave, Jimmy Mack, and Nowhere to Run, with a special introduction reserved for Dancing in the Street, with Martha thanking many of the artists who had also covered it, even Bowie & Jagger.

Marvin Gaye was one of the writers of Dancing in the Street, and the band paid tribute to him with a version What’s Going On? which soon turned into that concert staple of “the song where everyone in the band does a solo, including every separate member of the horn section, and the drummer”. The set finished with fireworks and a Motown medley – at least this one was performed by an actual Motown legend!

A great day out, I have no idea how they will top it in 2017, although not running out of lots of the good beer before 4pm will probably help! I can now add a Motown legend to my list of legendary artists seen live…

The Hog Stop at Wicked Hathern Fest, August 2016

I have already talked about The Hog Stop a couple of times back in April. As I mentioned, they also have a dedicated catering trailer which can be found around the town on market days and at various other events. Today’s Wicked Hathern Fest was one such event. After some tasty Peter Pizza earlier, we needed more sustenance before the headlining acts.

Luckily The Hog Stop trailer was on hand to delight us with porky goodness. The full line up was available:-

English – apple sauce, sage and onion stuffing and crackling.
Italian porchetta – garlic, fennel, rosemary and chilli.
American BBQ – apple coleslaw and BBQ sauce.
Jamaican jerk – scotch bonnet pepper sauce & banana chutney.
Chinese 5 spice – hoisin sauce and Asian leaf salad.

We both went for the American BBQ which was delicious once again, a perfect festival snack, filling and fab. The Hog Stop are purveyors of perfect pork!