I spent a good chunk of yesterday at Hilden Brewery Beer festival. After spending all of last year working at the festival it brought a different perspective to be on the other side of the bar. I went along with some CAMRA friends and Reuben (Tale of the Ale).
Feeling more than a little delicate after the previous night's tasting I needed to line my stomache with some decent grub. Thankfully the grill was fired up and i got me a tasty ale-marinaded pork belly with pesto. Also available were Lamb burger with goats cheese, steak chilli con carne and various other tasty morsels. It was a good plan to grab food quickly as the queue grew to over an hour in length later in the day!
My first choice of beer wasn't available; so went for the Hilden twisted hop. This is as good as other people have said it is, with a good dose of bitterness in the finish, reminding me somewhat of Fuller's Wild River.
Moving south of the border Metalman Pale ale on cask was tasty. I later tired Chameleon Ginger, another decent pint but my taste buds had been pummeled by the spicy Barney's Brew just before. The festival then got packed out with everyone turning up just before 4 to take advantage of free entry (£12 after that!)
A highlight beer wise for me was Ossett Hopmonster. With fresh Nelson Sauvin hops involved the beer was in American-hopping territory with lots of juicy oranges on the nose and mango rind in the flavour. Another Ossett-brewed beer, this time from the Rat brewers was a close second. Dirty Rat (a 3.5% mild and a new addition to the beer list) pours thick black-brown with good tan head. Plenty of flavour packed into this one, touch of roast barley, coffee, chocolate, full mouth feel, it wiped the floor with the Whitewater Belfast Black on cask, which just tasted of water in comparison.
I also managed to meet up with a number of friends from last year and some Ratebeerians/ Twitter types who I'd arranged to swap beer with. Thanks to everyone who brought me beer and to The Beer Nut for my new Beoir T-shirt as well. Adam from Leggygowan cheeses was also giving out samples alongside his goat's milk fudge, all excellent. They're certainly ones to watch and will feature on my blog in due course. I also met Mark from Clanconnel, and Grainne and Tim from Metalman were back up for the day too (doing a stint on the bar to help alleviate the queue!)
The day passed swiftly and in no time at all the train beckoned and we headed back to Belfast for a night-cap in the Bridge Bar, where I bumped into Tale of Ale again (who had gone to Belfast for dinner at the excellent Molly's Yard restaurant)
Now I'm set to be staying in Northern Ireland for the foreseeable future it looks as if I'll be attending a good few of these yet. The weather held-off and we enjoyed a baking day with some decent beer, great grub and a spot of music. Recommended.
Despite having my camera with me, I completely failed to take any pictures getting caught up in conversations with old friends and new on all manner of topics. Sometimes its best to leave your blogger's hat at the door and just enjoy yourself.