Thornbridge Peakender 2019

This is another post that has been languishing in the drafts folder for a very long time. With the cancellation of the 2020 instalment and the subsequent inability to attend the 2021 instalment (it clashes with a wedding), I thought it was about time that I finished this one off.

Let’s start with a bit of history. July 2014 saw the first Thornbridge “Great Peak Weekender”, now known as Peakender. We were there. It was an absolutely fantastic event. Free camping at Thornbridge Outdoors, a friendly bunch of volunteers directing people to their camping areas, and several bar areas with more friendly volunteers. Lots of beers from Thornbridge and some now very familiar names such as Buxton, Redemption, Ashover, Wild Beer Co and Roosters.

You bought a pint glass for a pound (I’ve still got mine) and beer tokens were 50p each. Three tokens for a half of the “normal” beers, going all the way up to eight or nine for the stronger or rarer ones. It remains one of the best beer festivals that we’ve ever been to, a great vibe and really relaxed. When the rain came, there was enough space in the bar areas for everyone. We also had time to enjoy some nice walking on the Saturday and then back for more food and drink and good music at the festival site.

Fast forward to 2015, and some changes were afoot. Camping was now a paid for option, and all of a sudden the fields were absolutely rammed with vans and tents. Queues for the many bars got out of hand very quickly, as did queues for food. There were far too many people there and it just got worse on Saturday with even more day visitors arriving. The free shuttle bus into Bakewell was also a bit of a shambles due to confusion caused by the drivers who told loads of people the wrong pick up point which then led to big queues at the correct pick up point. The food and beers were great, but the festival experience had been diminished.

In 2016 we gave it a miss.

Fast forward to 2017, and the festival moves to the Bakewell showground. Festival tickets were still free. Camping was a paid option again, but we opted to stay at a site just out of town, and cycle to and from the festival. It got muddy pretty quickly, due to the awfulness of that summer’s weather. After enjoying a bike ride on the Saturday, we soon realised that we had missed a lot of beers that had disappeared in the blink of an eye during the Saturday afternoon session. There was a lot of rain, and a lot of people sheltering in tents trying to stay warm, even though it was August.

In 2018 we gave it a miss, because it looked like it was going to be exactly the same, except you now had to pay for tickets to the festival. You got nothing in return, not even a £1 pint glass. I kept trying to find out what we were paying for, but no-one would give me a straight answer.

So now we find ourselves in 2019. Our camping equipment has been upgraded, so we decided to go for the on site camping this year and give the festival another go. The weather forecast was far from perfect, but that would fit in with our previous experiences so we were prepared.

Which is more than can be said for most people, and for some parts of the site. We arrived on Friday lunchtime and were directed to the relevant part of the showground. The rain was starting to fall so we hoped that the ground wasn’t going to be too soft to depart from on Sunday. We will return to that later.

The rain was pretty relentless on Friday. We went over to the festival area to grab some lunch and some lunchtime pints. Nice food from the Greedy Greek Deli, and lots of interesting beers to kick things off. Three bar tents this year but they were already getting busy with people sheltering from the rain. The ground was getting soft under foot, and we were only an hour in.

I had a little run in with one of the bar team who tried to tell me that Yeastie Boys were not a brewery and that Real Fiction were a brewery. No, Yeastie Boys are the brewery, Real Fiction is the name of the beer.

After a few beers, we retreated to the dry for a while and watched more campers arrive in the rain. Then there was more rain. More people arriving. More people walking up and down the main “concourse” into the festival site. More mud being churned up. More people arriving without wellies. More muddy legs. The food area was fast becoming a swamp. The tents were pretty much full of people sheltering. The bands were playing to a hardy few who were standing in a swamp.

We ventured out for some pizza and more beer and retreated back to the dry. I popped out for another beer but the relentless rain and the lack of anywhere to sit was not ideal. Luckily the beer was great and freely flowing. Many casks and kegs were kicked – if you want something specific, you had better order it as soon as you see it, because the likelihood is it won’t be there when you go back to the bar.

The rain continued. This photo makes it look fine. It was not fine.

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Saturday dawned. A lot of tents had been flooded out and people were moving around in the middle of the night. We donned the wellies once more and waded through the swamp for some coffee and breakfast. The food traders were rather suffering from being in the swamp, but the mood was still upbeat despite the atrocious conditions underfoot. Allegedly a massive “swamp hoover” was coming out to pump away the worst of it, but if it did then it’s hard to see what difference it made. We did meet some owls though.

The sun shone and shone for most of Saturday. We headed up to the Monsal Trail for a wander and to earn some more beer points. We wandered into town for a bit of shopping and some lunch (better than standing in a swamp) and then headed back to site for some more beers.

Regular MOFAD companions Andy and Kerrie arrived (previous Peakender attendees too) and we found ourselves a spot to plonk our chairs in one of the tents, as more rain was on the way. We trudged through the never ending mud for food and drink as the evening wore on and we had a fun night of beer and chat.

The rain pretty much held off, but the damage had been done. The ground conditions were awful and the “swamp hoover” hadn’t done a thing. We squelched back through smashed plastic pint glasses and muddy tents.

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Sunday dawned. The sun shone again. The swamp was negotiated for some more breakfast. We bimbled around the craft fair at the market, we had some lunch. We stuck around for the end of the Eroica Britannia, the bike race for pre-1987 road bikes, as our friend Dan was riding it. We applauded him and lots of others across the line. We had tea and cake.

Then we had to get out of the quagmire. After a good start, we did get stuck in one of the muddy areas, and needed a combined pushing force, returning the favour that I’d done for a few others when walking around the site earlier in the day. We got out.

So how to sum it all up. The beer was great. The food was good. The site and the organisation, much less so. The amount of rain on the Friday was unprecedented (a word that has been massively overused in 2020) but we were told that they were prepared, and that the swamp hoover would save the day. It did not. The mud nearly wrecked everything. Having friends to join in the fun with saved it from being a total washout, both literally and metaphorically.

Mango Smash was probably my favourite beer. Hopefully 2022 will be a drier summer!

Pub in the Park, Warwick, July 2019

Let’s start with the name of the event first. It should be called “Good Food Pub in the Park”. If you are presenting your pub in a park, it should be all of the facets of the pub. Most importantly, it should showcase the great beer from your area that you serve in your pub.

What is a pub? A pub, or public house, is an establishment licensed to sell alcoholic drinks, which traditionally include beer and cider. It is a social drinking establishment, and a focal point of the community. In his 17th-century diary Samuel Pepys described the pub as “the heart of England”. As I’ve said before, it’s the original social network.

Here we are then, in the heart of England, celebrating the pub. Except we are only celebrating the more modern part of it, the food offering. We’ll come back to that later, as it was really rather good. I want to talk about beer for a moment, which will probably come as no surprise.

The event is sponsored by macro brewer Greene King. They have their fans. I am not one of them. They own a lot of names, and make a lot of dull brown beer. Hardys & Hansons, Morland, Taylor Walker, Belhaven, Ridley’s, Ruddles, Tolly Cobbold and Trader Joe’s are all Greene King under another name.

Given this event is supporting and promoting independent pub/restaurant/cafe people, it should be doing the same for breweries. There are plenty in the Warwickshire area, as well as more in neighbouring counties. So why do we have Greedy King instead? I can only assume it is all down to money. If you have £2,000,000,000 in revenue for the year 2018, operating over 3,000 pubs across at least 8 different chains, then you can probably chuck a few quid at events like this and keep the (better) competition away.

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So that’s the moaning bit over, let’s get on to all of the good bits. We were here with long time MOFAD companions Karon & John, to enjoy a relaxed day of food and drink so let’s talk about the pubs/restaurants/cafes.

The event is the brainchild of Tom Kerridge, so you’d expect Marlow’s The Hand & Flowers to be there, as of course they were. In fact it was the only “pub” to have a constantly large queue all day long. We tried all of their dishes, with Kerridge’s Fried Chicken (do you see what he did there?) being the favourite, but the smoked hog taco was a close second, followed by the minted lamb pie.

We didn’t have anything from The Cross at Kenilworth, but the beef pie looked nice. The same goes for The Hardwick, although I was a little tempted by the breaded corned beef hash. We also missed The Rose and Crown, with the sea bass looking very tempting.

Angela Hartnett’s Café Murano was represented, with the calzone being sampled by three of our number.

Again, three of us visited The Churchill Arms for Lobster Arancini, with shellfish mayonnaise, which was lovely.

My day had begun with a visit to Sindhu, where TV’s Atul Kochhar was cooking and chatting, and serving up chicken tikka pie, with onion and tomato mash and berry chutney (which did resemble the IKEA berry sauce).

I also visited The Half Moon and enjoyed the panko blade of beef and black stick blue cheese burger, although it was a bit too small for my liking. All of the dishes were “tapas size” but this one definitely felt too small.

In between visiting the pop up pubs/restaurants/cafes, we were also visiting the stalls of the various smaller producers that were there. These were at least 50% gin, or that’s what it felt like. From Kent’s Anno Distillers, to Yorkshire’s Haworth Gins, via the Jelley Distillery (set up next to Briscoe’s Artisan Jellies), Riverside Spirits, Warwickshire Gin, Ian Beale’s Neat Gin (ceated by actor Adam Woodyatt and his wife Beverley, and not called Ian Beale’s Neat Gin, just Neat Gin), and finally New Zealand’s Cardrona distillery.

A large number were sampled, and Cardrona’s “Source” gin was the clear winner with everyone who tasted it, whilst also being the most expensive. Of all the gins tasted, it was the most complex, with layers of botanicals revealing themselves. Their “Rose Rabbit” liqueurs (orange or elderflower) were also delicious, although they need a little revision on the definition of liqueur, since they are typically 15-30% ABV, and theirs were both pushing 50%, much closer to navy strength gin (a 1990s marketing invention) than a typical liqeueur.

Where were the beers from all those aforementioned local breweries? Muscled out by Greedy King I suspect, with just Dartmoor Brewery selling warm bottles of beer to take away (no drinking non-Greene King beer on site), and Black Storm Brewery (also appearing as Autumn Brewing Co) showing non-cold chain cans of beer. Whither local breweries like Church End, Church Farm, Fosse Way, North Cotswold, Tunnel or Warwickshire Brew Co?

Enough moaning about beer, back to more food things, with lots of nice cakes on display, tasty cheeses, posh chocolates, posh nut butters and ice creams. We sampled lots of these in between getting dishes from the pubs, and trying gins.

There were two stages, one for chef demos, the other for music. We heard but didn’t see Tom Kerridge’s demo (too many people, not enough seating) but didn’t catch the others due to eating crisps and sampling gin.

The music stage could be heard all across the site, so we listened to The Christians in the shade of the chef demo stage, enoying the music of one of the most under-rated bands of the late 1980s. Their brand of polished lyrical pop/soul kind of got lost amongst all of the dance music of the era. As you would expect, they played most of their big hits from the debut album like Forgotten Town and Ideal World, as well as their cover of the Isley Brothers’ “Harvest for the World”, and Bob Marley’s “Small Axe”.

A bit more shopping and trundling happened next, and we also listened to The Rifles under the shade of the demo stage, which was being dismantled behind us. A bit more food and drink and then we crossed the site to stake out a patch of grass for Will Young, who was headlining the music stage.

It’s fair to say that his brand of bland pop is not to my taste, but it was largely inoffensive, save for a cover of Light my Fire by The Doors. I’ve never been a huge Doors fan, but turning their iconic psychedelic rock sound into easy listening cheese would definitely have made something start spinning in the famous Paris cemetery Père Lachaise on this warm Sunday evening….

A very pleasant afternoon in the park. Nice to meet and chat to lots of small producers of food and drink, and to sample lots of it as well as some great pub food. A cross between the BBC Good Food Show and a small town festival. A shame about the beer, but I already knew that in advance and concentrated on enjoying everything else instead. The Christians were definitely the best band, but this was an event that was more about the food and drink. If you’re thinking of visiting another event for the music, the Sunday evening line up at Chiswick looks good…

BBC Good Food Show Winter, The NEC, November 2017

The annual round up of the annual pilgrimage to the NEC to visit the BBC Good Food Show. And for the first time since the last century, we had a guest, with Mrs MOFAD’s sister (and regular MOFAD supplier) Jo joining us for the first half of the day. We rocked up at the NEC at just after 10am, after a quick detour to pick up our passenger. Note to future self – coming down the A446 from junction 9 is much better than going down to junction 6.

In to the show we go. More security this year, sniffer dogs trying hard not to be distracted by the smell of sausages cooking nearby. Guide dogs doing the same. As usual we set off for the drinks sections first, which were absolutely overwhelmed by gin producers. I thought that there were loads of them last year, but I’m sure there were even more this year. Fewer cider producers and way fewer breweries. No Renegade/West Berkshire (probably the highlight of the last 2 years). No BAD Co (another good one from last year). No Empress Ale. No Crafty Devil. Not even a bigger name like Wadworth.

There were a few familiar names as well as some new breweries (reports on them to come later I’m sure). Plenty of interesting food producers, but again some notable absentees. No Croome Cuisine and their lovely hop cheese. No Debbie & Andrew’s. We picked up the usual haul of Dean’s biscuits, always the most generous with their samples of whole biscuits (unlike some of the cheese producers who have samples the size of a mote of dust).

Santa tells me that there are more goodies to come in 25 days, so I’ll wait until then to do another round up 🙂

Mini beer festival, Slimbridge, September 2017

An increasing highlight of our camping trips this year has been the opportunity to have a mini beer festival. With myself, Matt & Steve all actively seeking out new and interesting beers all year round, every time we get together then we just have to crack a few open to share.

Matt’s newest discovery is Drop The Anchor Brewery in Christchurch, and he’d been down there to pick up bottles of all of their beers for us to try. Silent Stones was a sweet and malty ale which went down well in the afternoon sunshine.

Tucktonia (named after a short lived 1970s theme park in Christchurch) was a nice easy drinking pale ale.

After checking these beers in on Untappd, we discovered that the brewery is owned by Neil, an old school friend of my work friend Jono. Via an Untappd conversation, I brought him a bottle back to try.

Later on in the evening, we moved on to something a little older. Sixteen years old to be precise, a bottle of 1851, brewed by St Austell Brewery in 2001 to celebrate their 150th anniversary. It’s a barley wine, so can take some ageing, but I think we all agreed that it was probably past its peak, although there’s still quite a bit going on, with that barley wine sweetness still lingering.

The theme of this weekend’s camp is cake weekend (in honour of Hazel’s birthday, and also now Hazel & Matt’s anniversary). So the cake themed beers came out next. First, an old friend, the Cloudwater/To0l collaboration Christmas Cake Imperial Stout. This was Matt’s bottle that I had procured last Xmas and it had aged nicely in the bottle. Christmas cake in a glass. Boozy dried fruits, gentle winter spices. Lie back and think of Christmas. Lovely stuff.

We then moved on to my weird offering. When was the last time you had a lemon doughnut beer? No, I can’t remember the last time either. I had bought this on novelty value alone, and that proved to be a mistake as this was just chemical weirdness, I think Matt’s comment of “toilet cleaner” was the most flattering one applied to this odd liquid. It could have been epic, but it was just excrement.

On to a sure fire winner next, Imperial Biscotti Break from Evil Twin. Matt & I had already had this one so knew what was coming, Steve was yet to sample it. Pleasantly surprised is probably somewhat of an understatement, and we all enjoyed this one, super tasty almondy biscuit base.

Where do you go from Imperial Biscotti? To the lord, of course, Even More Jesus is a thick and oily delight, a hefty beast of a beer which left Steve speechless.

Another excellent mini beer fest, I suspect this theme will continue into 2018’s camping season. I’ve already got a few bottles stashed away for it…

Beer of the month, August 2017 – Stone the Crows IPA by Brewski

Another month almost entirely dominated by beers at home. This is despite several pub trips, a brewery tap trip and 2 visits to a good beer festival. With so many rotating lines on at the beer festival (and the rotations not always synchronised with the availability of the customer who wants to try them) you won’t always find the beer you want to taste.

However, to the beer festival we go first, for a Passionfruit And Blueberry Tart by Thornbridge Brewery. This one beats the standard version of “Tart” hands down. Sweet and sour and delicious. Lovely fruits balanced by sourness.

Everything else is a beer at home. The next one came to me fresh from Brass Castle Brewery. Earlier in the year I was one of their many crowd funders who started their “Crowler Club”. In this context, a crowler is a 990 ml can, filled fresh from the brewery and then sent straight out to customers. The crowd funding campaign enabled the brewery to purchase a special canning machine to make this all happen.

It was certainly worth it. The first beer that I tried was Disruptor, my first crowler beer, full of hoppy, fruity and juicy loveliness. Tropical goodness and super fresh.

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To another favourite brewery for Wyoming Sheep Ranch by Buxton Brewery. This was a little different for Buxton as there was absolutely nothing on the nose but big sweet pine on the palate. It was lovely stuff which made for a gentle sipper.

We now go to the dominant force in 2017’s beer of the month ratings, Cloudwater Brew Co. The Spring + Summer Pale Ale Ekuanot was a great beer for such low ABV. Not everything has to be a 9% monster to have good hoppy flavours and a nice body.

Something a little bit different next, a Peanut Butter Milk Stout by Belching Beaver Brewery. Not the kind of can that you might be able to show to more sensitive members of the family which is how come it was held over a week or so and made it into the August list. It was an utterly delicious peanut butter milk stout. Awesome nutty aroma, smooth flavours.

Who’s next? Well, it’s Cloudwater again, with Tremendous Ideas by Cloudwater Brew Co. A super tasty murk bomb (that’s a very cloudy beer that’s full of flavour). Thick with hops and juicy bitterness with fruitness to balance it out.

However, a new winner this month, on their first ever appearance. Stone the Crows IPA by Brewski from Sweden was full of super juicy grapefruit bitterness. Maximum citrus flavours and really lovely stuff. Very lively and sharp. A worthy winner to mix with all those Cloudwaters at the end of the year…

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Thornbridge Peakender 2017 – day two

So here we are, back again with the day two round up. As 75% of our party aren’t big beer festival people, we spent much of the day cycling along the Monsal trail to earn our beer points, and it was a very pleasant day out, despite some more rain making an appearance. Little did we know that many beers were disappearing from the festival in our absence. Like yesterday when we arrived, there was nowhere in particular to park bicycles (our preferred mode of transport).

The rain and its effect on the conditions underfoot at the Bakewell Showground have been a big part of the weekend. The Bakewell Show suffered huge problems just a couple of weeks ago during some big storms, with some cars unable to enter or leave at various points due to the field being an absolute mudbath. The nearby Y Not festival was also abandoned on its final day. (Edit : the Bakewell Show has been cancelled for 2018, for the first time since World War II, one of the reasons given was to let the showground recover).

On to our beery round up for day two, and then some final thoughts.

First up in the round up, the Magic Rock pilsner we know as Dancing Bear, prety decent stuff.

Another treble next. There’s Melba, which you might have guessed is a peach beer, an IPA to be precise. The peach is very subtle, although the IPA bit is even more subtle (sadly).

A lovely summer beer followed, in the form of Wit or Wheatout You (strong punnage from Beavertown), a slightly soured wheat beer with coriander and lemon zest, to make the ultimate wheat beer shandy.

Staying with the lemony goodness, Siren’s White Tips “zesty IPA”. I had high hopes of this one, but there were just subtle zesty hints and no hops detected. Wit or Wheatout You was much better.

After some pizza (because beer festival), some more beer. Hawaii 5-Oh is a beer inspired by ham, and made for The Friends of Ham, a top notch beer, cheese and charcuterie bar in Leeds. I am also a friend of ham. It was quite literally like drinking a smoked Hawaiian pizza. This is a good thing in my book, probably my favourite “weird beer” of the event.

This next beer was another Thornbridge one, Guinevere, a witbier that was like a rosemary gin. Intriguing.

The next beer to be unchained was Django, a pale ale with lemongrass and Kaffir lime leaves. Needs more lemongrass and more lime leaves. Lots more. Also, a steadier hand in lower light conditions.

Thornbridge Lumford was not worth the long wait at the bar, way too bland for a New Zealand pale ale…

Brock was to be the final beer of this year’s adventure. And what an anti-climax. Thin and light and nothing of note. (Edit: having had it again in December 2017, it’s much better when it has been looked after by a skilled publican).

On to final thoughts. The weather played havoc here. Recent rains have ensured that quagmire conditions seen earlier in the month persisted in some areas. Temporary walkways weren’t up to the job, leaving more puddles in their wake. Bales of straw strewn everywhere are only good for a certain amount of footfall. That amount was soon exceeded, so there were more muddy patches. More bales of straw which were being used as seating were being ripped and tossed to the ground to try and shore things up.

Even with the expanded capacity that this area brings, queues for the bars (particularly during colder and wetter times in the evenings) still made things difficult. An outdoor summer beer festival should be an awesome thing (the first one in 2014 was just that). With a better summer next year, this could still become the best outdoor, free to get in, beer festival.

(Edit 1 : having chatted to one of the team at another event, further details of some of the difficulties they ran into when trying to organise the event emerged, and they certainly did well under difficult circumstances).

(Edit 2 : the 2018 event has just been announced. Following their own trend of charging for things that were previously free, the 2018 festival will cost you £8.25 per day to get in, or £22 for a 3 day pass. In exchange for your hard earned cash, you get precisely nothing. Since no-one from Thornbridge could explain the reasons behind the costs, you can only assume that it’s to help iron out some of the difficulties they ran into last year. I did advise them that they should put some explanation about why they need to charge on the FAQ pages, but they never did. We won’t be going. I hope you have a great time if you choose to go.)

Thornbridge Peakender 2017 – day one

For a full round up of thoughts on the 2017 event, see the day two post.

We skipped Peakender last year, because it had clearly outgrown Thornbridge Outdoors in 2015, so it would have been madness to return for more of the same. As they decided (wisely) to move to the Bakewell Showground for 2017, we decided to come back and have another go. Although we had camped at another event here a few years ago, we opted to camp at a proper site just up the road (and up the hill).

On to the beers from day one.

As might be expected from some of my recent favourite beers, I went straight to the Cloudwater taps. Lots of things were promised over the weekend, but they were rationed to these 2 taps, which would eventually mean missing out on some of them.

Spring + Summer Pilsner Dana was very light and slightly floral with maybe a hint of honey lurking in the background. A pleasant start.

A quick “atmosphere” shot next, lots of keg taps visible and plenty of cask pumps dotted around. As this was during Friday afternoon, you won’t see the bar in this uncrowded form again.

Passionfruit And Blueberry Tart by Thornbridge – it beats the standard version hands down. Sweet and sour and delicious.

Next up, three beers in a row.

On the left is the beer launched by Thornbridge today, Prospero, a collaboration with North Brewing Co, which turned out to be a decent lager but nothing like an IPA.

In the middle, Super Saison by Tiny Rebel Brewing Co. Didn’t work for me. No saison-y flavours. No citrus. Mrs MOFAD did hop face but I couldn’t find them in here.

On the right, Running With Sceptres from Lost And Grounded Brewers. A really nice dry lager with a lot of things happening.

More “atmos” next, and a lazy attempt to “lord it up” and win a year of beer. (Edit: I didn’t win).

As with all events nowadays, you need a big cardboard/plastic frame for people to take photos and amplify on social. This was ours.

With some food having been consumed, a few more beers. Pictured now are Piña Mojito Vice (on the left) from Magic Rock Brewing, a minty cocktail beer. It works. In a good way. I liked it a lot. Also from Magic Rock we have Precognition (on the right), a good oaty IPA but in no way the best Magic Rock.

Finally for today we have Peverel (very weak session ale, and no sign of those lovely Mosaic hops) and Wye (strong cucumber flavours that don’t work for me).

Stay tuned for the day two round up.

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 🙂

Spirit of Harborough festival, May 2017

You may already have read all of the individual posts from the places that we visited when strolling around Market Harborough for the Spirit of Harborough festival. This is just a quick wrap up to look at the event as a whole.

The Spirit of Harborough festival is a new event for 2017, set up to be a celebration of the finest locally produced wine, beer, gin and cider. Over the weekend there are a number of activities taking place such as taste tours, tastings from local brewers and tours and demonstrations from local producers.

We embarked on the “Taste Harborough Mini Taste Trail”, which started out at “The Square” in the town centre, where a pop up stall was available for you to collect your map and booklet (£3 per person) to take to the various outlets to receive your samples. The first sample was on the stall itself, a genuine Leicestershire pork pie, which was a delicious start. We studied the map and then plotted our route around the town.

Our next stop was the indoor market, where we strolled around the stalls and then sampled some tasty cakes from  – we also ended up buying a box of gin and tonic cupcake bites to enjoy later (we have a plentiful supply of doughnuts but it’s nice to have other cake-y offerings).

We then strolled along the River Welland and down to The Oat Hill, to sample some local vodka and beers from the Langton Brewery (just to the north of MH).

This was a lovely pub which we would like to come back to one day, and it was lovely to sit out in the beer garden sampling the beers and vodka. There was more taste touring to do, so we crossed over the river and then down to Beerhouse, who were hosting Market Harborough Brewery for the day. They didn’t have far to travel, situated as they literally across the road from Beerhouse.

Down in the “back room”, we met Ivan from the brewery, who took us on a little tutored tasting of five of their bottled beers. More details on that here.

Our next stop was Emerson & Wests, a delicatessen and bakery who had some sweet and savoury treats to sample, including the lesser known Harborough Cheesecake, a baked cake with a pastry base, curd and sultanas. I also stocked up on a few beers from Langton Brewery as well as a little something else for Mrs MOFAD 🙂

We had to make some tactical decisions, because not all outlets were open all day. Tip for next year – get everyone to offer their wares for a longer period to stop this from being necessary. We gambled on The Angel Hotel, who had some sausages and meatballs on offer to try. I’m not sure that they really entered into the spirit of Spirit of Harborough though, since they just had a couple of plates of food in the reception area, and they had just about run out of sausages. A bit of a token effort really, no-one to engage with about the food.

Our final stop was much better, Duncan Murray Wines. They hold regular tastings each Saturday, so they really knew what they were doing. We tasted Brynne Vineyard Phoenix, a white wine with “an English hedgerow and cutgrass nose, leading to a smooth, soft, citrus fruit finish.” We then had a couple more beers from Market Harborough Brewery, as well as some different ones from The Langton Brewery. There was also time for a bit more shopping…

Our tour was over, so we retired to Square Cafe Bar for some lunch. We then headed off to the final stop, Farndon Fields farm shop. We went by car as it was on our route back to the camp site. Sadly, they had run out of free samples (more bad planning) so we had to make do with a wander round and a spot of shopping instead:-

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We had a lovely time exploring Market Harborough. The good weather (the threatened rain never materialised) really helped things. I hope that this festival goes from strength to strength. Given time and with more producers on board, it could grow to rival Ludlow (our favourite town food/drink festival).

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.