Monday, 27 July 2015

Birmingham Beer Bash 24th July 2015

Dee – Our first visit to the 2015 Birmingham Beer Bash took place on a dull grey wet afternoon in mid-July, at the Bond in Digbeth; the same venue that hosted the Whisky Birmingham event earlier in the year click here for details
The evening event started at 5.30pm and we arrived not long after.  The venue was already fairly busy, and once we had collected our souvenir glasses and event guides, we had a quick perusal of the beers on offer.  All attendees to the festival received a complimentary token with which to pay for their first drink.  Subsequent tokens were available for purchase from the bottle bar. The price of the beers varied from £1 to £2 in tokens with the majority being around £1.50.
I decided to take pot luck with my first choice, as Jay did, but everything from Beer #2 onwards in both our lists was chosen from the guide. As with the whisky festival, it should be noted that whilst this is quite a long list, the measures were mostly thirds of a pint.

Dee's choices

Beer #1:  American Brown
Brewery:  The Runaway Brewery
Tasting Notes said:  Seriously moreish Brown Ale with caramel sweetness balanced by big flavour hops.
Dee said:  Nice dark mahogany colour.  Hoppy aroma and taste, with a pleasant hint of coffee.  Nothing was too strong, making this a good first choice.

Beer #2:  Bohemian Hipster
Brewery:  Mad Dog Brewing Co.
Tasting Notes said:  The pale golden Bohemian Hipster Pilsner pours perfectly clear and throws a classic grassy and herbaceous nose. Wonderfully balanced, the Hipster is a dry, quenching and - frankly - hip lager which will down well with cool people during a hot summer.
Dee said:  I chose this one because I liked the name.  It had a copper colour but no distinctive aroma.  There was a slight hoppiness in the taste.  It was ok but I wouldn’t rush back for it.

Beer #3:  BBQ IPA
Brewery:  unknown (sorry, this wasn’t listed in the guide)
Tasting Notes said:  none available
Dee said:  This one had a very strange aroma which reminded me of cheese, but in a good way.  It had a strong hoppiness to it but without the smokiness that I was expecting.

Beer #4:  Breakfast Stout
Tasting Notes said:  The coffee lover’s consummate beer. Brewed with an abundance of flaked oats, bitter and imported chocolates, and two types of coffee, this stout has an intense fresh-roasted java nose topped with a frothy, cinnamon-colored head that goes forever.
Dee said:  A rich coffee flavour.  Not something I’d choose to drink at breakfast time, but it would go fabulously well with some strong dark chocolate cake or a chocolate brownie.  The more I drank it the more I liked it.

Beer #5:  Munich Dark
Brewery:  unknown (Another one not in the guide)
Tasting Notes said:  none available
Dee said:  Mahogany coloured.  Nice rich malty flavour with a caramel aftertaste.

Beer #6:  Pot Kettle Black South Pacific Porter
Brewery:  Yeastie Boys
Tasting Notes said:  Our flagship beer, and biggest seller, is one of the most celebrated beers to come out of New Zealand. Pot Kettle Black is still the only beer to have ever won two trophies in a single year at BrewNZ, and in 2012 was awarded the Champion Beer of Asia (potentially the biggest award a NZ beer has picked up in 30 years). PKB, as it has become affectionately known, is a juxtaposition of beer: fresh and hoppy, yet as black as night and malty rich. The black beer that has converted many a person who was formerly scared of black beer. Also called a "real foodie beer" by pretty much every chef we meet!
Dee said:  No discernable aroma but a dark, brooding and bitter taste.  I would enjoy this best on its own on a cold dark winter’s evening (much like the evening of the festival in fact).  A definite winner.

Beer #7:  Penny Black IPA
Brewery:  Thirst Class Ale
Tasting Notes said:  Black IPA with Sorachi Ace, Equinox and Columbus hops. Hop forward with roasted malt backbone
Dee said:  I bought a sample of this after sampling Jay’s.  It was a brand new arrival so was a bit on the lively side and needed to be allowed to settle before drinking.  There was a rich taste of coconut and a smooth, lush texture.  Absolutely worth the wait.

Beer #8:  Uncle Zester   Dee’s beer of the Festival
Brewery:  Siren Craft Brew
Tasting Notes said:  What's a Braggot you ask? It's a beer brewed with both honey and malt. A beer / mead hybrid if you will. When we met Brad from B. Nektar Meadery at Copenhagen Beer Celebration in 2014 and tasted his meads we knew we had to get him over to brew with us. The result is an absolute zest fest.
Dee said:  Oh wow!  This was a taste sensation and a half.  Lemon sherbert with heaps and heaps of sugar followed by an aftertaste of slightly sour bubblegum.  Quite unlike anything I usually select when choosing beers but I really enjoyed it.  Definitely a feel good drink and a surprise winner for my beer of the festival.

Beer #9:  Smoked Farmhouse Porter
Tasting Notes said:  Big smoked porter made with farmhouse yeast for a bit of funk. Smokey, malty, smooth and delicious.
Dee said:  A good, rich warming brew.  Nice rich malty flavour up front with a lingering chocolatey aftertaste.

Jay’s Choices

Beer #1:  Ginspired
Brewery:  Magic Rock Brewing
Tasting Notes said:  An IPA brewed to be as refreshing on a summer's day as a gin and tonic. Brewed in collaboration with Siren Craft Brew.
Jay said:  Pale, dry, slightly floral.  Didn’t get any juniper though.  A nice summer beer which would have been perfect if we’d had nice summer weather.

Beer #2:  Dark Matter
Brewery:  Atom Beers
Tasting Notes said:  Toasty medium bodied Stout with a silky smooth mouthfeel with hint of dark chocolate.
Jay said:  Dark and Malty.  Roast – Coffee – Dark – Dry - Lush

Beer #3:  Almasty Salted Caramild
Brewery:  Almasty Brewing Co.
Tasting Notes said:  Ruby coloured mild; which starts sweet on the palette, then delivers a long dry slightly salted finish.
Jay said:  Didn’t get salty, didn’t get caramel, but did get a luscious session mild.

Beer #4:  Sleeping Lemons
Brewery:  Wild Beer Co.
Tasting Notes said:  L'hamd Maraked, the Morrocan for preserved lemons, literally translates as Sleeping Lemons. We have been preserving lemons in salt and lemon juice throughout the winter ready to brew this refreshing summer special
Jay said:  Took one sniff and thought “I’m not going to like this”.  A bit sherberty, then sour, then cider.  Considering I’m not keen on sour beers, this grew on me considerably, but then I am a bit of Wild Beer Co fan.  Glorious summer’s day drink.

Beer #5:  Fresh
Brewery:  Wild Beer Co.
Tasting Notes said:  Our pale ale, made with northern and southern hemisphere hops. Created with a passion for flavour and a lust for hops — this is a frisky, fragrant pale ale. Every six months we source some of the most interesting hops from the northern and southern hemispheres, which means two hop harvests and two excitingly different hop profiles. Given the unpredictability of each harvest, you’re guaranteed a punchy hop character alongside an appetising bitterness and a crisp dry finish that will send you back for more.
Jay said:  Hops Hops Hops!

Beer #6:  Penny Black IPA  Jay’s Beer of the Festival
Brewery:  Thirst Class Ale
Tasting Notes said:  None available
Jay said:  Sweet.  Interesting and worth checking back and back to see if there was still any left! My beer of the Festival this one.

Beer #7:  Chocolate Cherry Mild
Tasting Notes said:  Chocolate and Cherry Mild
Jay said:  Fruity but not sweet.

Beer #8:  Chevalier Non Barrel Aged
Brewery:  Cheshire Brewery
Tasting Notes said:  none available
Jay said:  This was offered for sale after a fringe event specialising in Chevalier-style beers.  It was cloudy in appearance and rich and full of flavour, with floral and spicy notes and a lingering sweetness.  At 6.8% ABV, it was dangerously drinkable.

Beer #9:  Uncertainty Principle IPA
Brewery:  Atom Beers
Tasting Notes said:  Take an IPA, give it some muscles with an extra jolt of abv, throw it through the 9 circles of hop hell and back with lots of ever changing hops. Then dry hop it, and again just to squeeze every last drop out of those lupulin filled cones! Always evolving, we give you the Uncertainty Principle.
Jay said:  Woo! Grapefruit.  Fruity and slightly astringent.  I liked it.

The guide provided a list of the beers which were going to be available over the 3 days of the festival, but not all beers were on at every session which meant we didn’t get to try some of the ales that we’d had our eye on but on the other hand, as the guide didn’t include some late additions, we also got to try some ales that we wouldn’t normally have chosen either.
There was a food court hosting several local caterers, all of whom we wanted to sample food from.  We took the vegetarian option and chose a mixed platter from Becky’s Bhajis which consisted of Onion Bhajis, Mumbai butties which were basically deep fried potato and vegetable sandwiches, some chilli chutney and a couple of dips: cucumber raita and a tomatoey-tamarindy sauce.  It was very enjoyable and worth exploring further when we finally make it to Digbeth Dining Club.
As with the whisky festival, the venue was well laid out to allow for drinks to be obtained and enjoyed in one of the seating areas, which were all under cover from the rain.  The layout also made for a friendlier event than those we have attended previously, and we struck up a couple of conversations with fellow attendees, sharing tips for favourite tipples and also sharing recommendations for good breweries.  I learned about the Mosaic Beer from the Golden Triangle Brewery this way.  We also found out about the Founders KBS stout, aged in whisky casks and a whopping 11.2% ABV which sounds worth a try.
Part of the commentary in the event guide talked about the small, inclusive nature of the event and the organisation certainly delivered on that score, as I mentioned in the paragraphs above.
In conclusion, both of us had a great time and appreciated the atmosphere and organisation as well as the variety of beers, and we look forward to hearing news of future events.

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