Hilden Brewery Beer Festival

The Brewery grounds
As its now the last day of August I should write up my review of the Hilden Brewery Beer Festival. As you may be aware (if you read my previous posts) I volunteered to work at the festival this year and my offer was gratefully accepted. I had a great time and met a number of great people, including some CAMRA friends and some bloggers from down south.Reuben @taleofale was there with his t-shirt and also some others who said hello but beer and tiredness has caused me to forget.
The brewery inside

Rather than review the organisation and logistics of the festival (which is something I will feed back on to the organisers directly and not for the public arena) I'm just going to review the beers and the music.

There were a few stand-out beers for me this year.
White Gypsy Weiss was a creamy bodied banana smelling clove-fest. I loved it, really refreshing and had about a pint each day. I wasn't as keen on their Bruin which to me tasted like an Anglicized Leffe Brune clone but their brunette lager also rated highly. Roast coffee and chocolate and in good condition, its good to see this style on cask. I look forward to getting to try other beers by these guys.
Clanconnel Mcgrath's Irish Black
Clanconnel McGrath's Irish black was in good form as always. Nice bitter roasted barley and chocolate with good body and dry finish. Just what you'd expect from Champion Beer of Belfast 2010.
Kelham Island Riverfront Coliseum was a nice clean bear with saaz aroma and crisp malt finish. I think they used their regular yeast though because there were some subtle fruit esters hidden in there. Worth waiting until the Sunday for it to be on.

Four Hilden beers on handpump
All of the Hilden beers were in top condition as you'd expect. I particularly liked the Champion's brew, a new copper coloured 4.3 per-cent-er with juicy malt and spicy hedgerow fruits. Barney's brew was also great, I was a bit apprehensive about trying it because the last time I had this 5% Wit bier it was all over the place. Goes to show not to judge a beer by how its served in Wetherspoon! Pepper and cardamom on the nose with a spicy coriander orange-brown body.

One beer I was not keen on was the Dawkin's Sorachi Ace. I have enjoyed beers with this Japanese hop before and this one started off  with typical  aromas of lemon and sweet bubblegum with a hint of hay. Taste did not work for me on this occasion with an unpleasant dandelion leaf note, perhaps due to the interaction between wheat and hop?It was also a bit thin in body, which is a shame.

Yours truly busily serving
The music was also a mixed bag. Friday night's head-liners, a ska band called Doghouse were superb. Playing a mix of their own songs and covers of old favourites I was sad to leave early to catch my train. I'm not sure the two supporting bands fitted with the festival atmosphere though...metal at a beer fest? Saturday had a good mix of rock and acoustic acts during the day but at 6pm an emo band?! Possibly even less suited to a beer festival than metal! Sunday was families day and the stand out band for me was the Inishowen gospel choir, with voice and instruments they went down really well.

Two smiley cider sellers
I really enjoyed my time at the festival and if I'm still in the country I hope that they'll have me back to help out again next year. Those of you that missed it put the date in your diaries for next year, its the August Bank Holiday; so I'm guessing 24th, 25th and 26th of August 2011. As you're aware I've been reviewing Northern Ireland beers on my blog and asked the guys if they'd like me to do likewise for them. They agreed and I came home with a selection of Hilden bottles, which I'll review probably this weekend. I also got some cider from local producers Tempted and Mac's so look out for those in the next few weeks too!

Acoustic tepee and Twisted tap bar
For those of you who can't wait that long the Belfast beer festival is 17th-19th November, which I will be blogging about in due course. The Northern Ireland CAMRA branch are celebrating their 30th anniversary this year so expect there to be a good beer list and expanded cider range. Wetherspoon annual Autumn beer festival comes early this year with dates 5th-20th August. Why not come to Belfast on the 15th for a courtesy coach that tours the North's Wetherspoon pubs over the weekend. They even throw in a free breakfast! If you're interested let me know and I'll talk to the organizer.

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