There are countless Real Ale festivals throughout the UK at various times of the year forming social events at which socially awkward Real Ale drinkers can theoretically meet, talk, discuss beard cultivation, compete to see who has the largest beer gut and – of course – imbibe vast quantities of their beloved beer. In reality what happens at the festivals is that fat bellied beer geeks come, feel alienated as they are too socially inept to talk to one another, and proceed to use the beer program list as a menu for ticking from top to bottom in half pint measures.
Festivals can range from fairly small events hosted by pubs and villages to freak show gatherings attended by hundreds of thousands of people and which may feature 500+ Real Ales – a common feature of these are tickers who are out to drink a half pint of every beer on offer. Usually around 20% of all beers listed in the festival programme will be unavailable during the event as the people responsible for their production have been incapacitated during magical battles with other wizards, or are far too engrossed in a game of Dungeons and Dragons to get around to making their pong.
Many Real Ale festivals are now hosted indoors or in marquees. Many of these will be fully air conditioned, making such venues suitable even for those who do not enjoy the aroma of several hundred large, sweaty men with damp beards combined with the fruity tang of three-day-old spilt beer and vomit.
Survival Tips – Beer Festivals
- Beer festivals will allow you to taste beers before purchase. Towards the end of the evening, when the staff have had a few themselves, they will become careless about precisely which quantity of beer constitutes a taste and will frequently splash a good third of a pint into your glass. Do this a few times and you can easily manage three free pints.
- No matter how intoxicated you become, do not attempt to get a root. You will not like what you wake up with the following morning.
- Should you find you have a hangover the next day, a hair-of-the-dog remedy can be obtained freely. Simply turn up at the festival even if it’s 7am. They will usually require casual labourers to help clear up after the previous night’s revelry and will pay you in beer – being the confirmed Real Ale drinkers that they are, the organizers will recognize your need for a beer-based breakfast, allowing you at least one pint before you start working.
If you’ve ever attended performing arts festivals such as Glastonbury, you may have felt put off from further festival attendance due to the lack of decent food – ie; meat – available at such events, where foodstalls tend to cater to hippies and other types of weirdo vegetarian.
With regards to Beer Festivals, never fear: Scratchings, Hamburgers, hot-dogs and hog roasts will all be available at a Real Ale festival. Be sure to have at least one pint of the strongest Real Ale at the festival after eating, as the high alcohol content will help to neutralise any salmonella or e-coli bacteria picked up from the meat which is likely to have been insufficiently barbecued. BBQ’s are normally conducted via the antiquated charcoal method as gas BBQ’s are considered not to be ‘proper’. Most festivals will also have at least one stall specialising in extra-strong varieties of cheese such as Herefordshire Brown Cheddar, a traditional cheese made famous during WW1 when the Herefordshire Regiment used it as a nerve agent, bombarding the German trenches with it at Ypres.
All Real Ale festivals take very great care to discourage those who attend from driving home after consuming alcohol. A common measure is to display one or more real cars at the entrance to the event that have been involved in an accident that killed their drunken driver, the cars usually being supplied rather oddly by the Fire Brigade rather than by the Police or a car recovery garage. It used to be common to place a life-like dummy, modified to resemble a mangled corpse, inside the car as a further incentive to use public transport; however, following complaints at many festivals that the dummy was frightening, this is usually avoided which somewhat detracts from the whole point of the exercise. Extremely intoxicated drinkers can be seen attempting to get into and start the wrecked cars at the end of each night during which the festival is held before they are helpfully steered in the direction of their own cars by security.
That leads us to the final concern. After attending a beer festival you may feel that you have enjoyed yourself and feel that joining some kind of club or association might be a good idea. Don’t do it. Once you have signed up to CAMRA they will send you information about how to grow a beer belly, where to buy sandals and which supermarket has the best plastic bags. Start down that path and its a short stroll to Morris dancing and pickled eggs. Beware. Tip – these symptoms may be remedies by drinking what you will now refer to as ‘chemical fizz’. Five gulps of cooking lager will have you seeing straight again.
While I have no intention of attending this event at all, I feel that as a service to others I should remark that the the Local Taphouse chain of pubs is having their SpecTAPular beer festival in a week or so time. Available at prices which UK drinkers would flatly refuse to pay are the following beers (available in proper real keg format);
* Original Fassbier – Kellerbier matured on roasted oak chips (Last Drop, WA, 4.6%)
* Cucumber Sandwich – Summer Ale (Mountain Goat, VIC, 4.2%)
* kb – Kriek Berliner Weisse served through morello cherries (Wig & Pen, ACT, 4.3%)
* Organic Blueberry Hefeweizen (Otway Estate, VIC, 5%)
* Belgian Raspberry Wit (Kooinda, VIC, 5.5%)
* Anzac Bickies – Oats, coconut and vanilla ale (Burleigh Brewing, QLD, 5%)
* Red Relief (Stone & Wood, NSW, 4.7%)
* Cherry Bomb – Cherry and coconut porter (True South, VIC, 5%)
* Quince Ale (Lobethal and Brew Boys Collaboration, SA, 5.6%)
* Zephyr – Double White Ale (Doctors Orders Brewing, NSW, 5.6%)
* Chocolate Chilli Porter (Hunter, NSW, 5.8%)
* 2 Hills Maibock (Collaboration between Hargreaves Hill and Red Hill Breweries, VIC, 6.8%)
* Wee Heavy (4 Pines, 7.8%)
* Rye IPA (Mash, WA)
* Karma Citra – Black IPA showcasing the Citra hop (Feral, WA, 5.9%)
* Lemon Myrtle IPA (Jamieson, VIC, 7%)
* The Secret Romance of Herman van Rompuy and Cherry Poppens – Belgian style Flanders red (Moondog, VIC, 7.3%)
* The Empress – Imperial Mocha Porter (Holgate, VIC, 10%)
* Big Red Rocket – Imperial Red Ale (Bridge Road, VIC, 9%)
* Imperious – Imperial Belgian Blond Ale (Murrays, NSW, 11%)
Recently PIUTW highlighted the devastation caused to Queensland by flooding. Of concern was that beer supplies to far north Queensland would be cut off which would ultimately lead to riots. Anyway the worst has happened and beer supplies are critically short. To meet demand, XXXX has sent a special container shipment of 50000 cases or some 500000 liters of beer north to plug the shortfall. With rail and overland infrastructure cut off due to flooding, transport via sea is the only option which remains.
Other restaurants including McDonald’s have had to restrict their menu’s as produce is simply not available due to the impact of the floods. McDonald’s have reportedly flown in a plane full of lettuce so their reduced offerings will still meet nutritional standards. This air shipment of a low value item of lettuce is also reported to have cost over $50000.
You can read a serious account of these shortages here.
I have blogged previously about the Redoak boutique brewery. Sure it’s overpriced but the beer here is pretty good. I have never had a dodgy beer here and it really is something special compared to even the best that proper real keg has to offer (generally all beers here are proper real – although occasionally they have a pump on, maybe one of only two or three hand pumps in Sydney).
Anyhow I was in there chatting to the bar dude on Friday night sipping their excellent Bitter (3.5% abv) when he informed me of their recent success at the World Beer Awards that were held in London last July. After being told by numerous anonymous assholes in the comments section of this blog and various others that “Australian’s don’t know about ale” etc I find it quite humorous that Redoak Bitter took out the award for Bitter category ahead of every brown 4% beer that the UK can produce. Hear that, Australians beat the Brits at their own game.
Over the weekend I also caught Oz and Hugh – Raise the Bar. Episode three was very interesting, especially the beer festival in Manchester. Now anybody who denies the CAMRA stereotype needs to watch this episode. Beards, bellies and weirdo’s holding plastics bags are pictured. Hugh Dennis even makes a comment that he feels out of place without a beard and a plastic bag. There is no point in denying the facts here and anyone who tries to argue to the contrary obviously falls into the stereotype. And to top it all off there is a steam train at the end, the crowning jewel in the ticker train watching stereotype. Props to Oz and Hugh for going on the lash with a bunch of female students from Leeds, but what was the go with the place adding essences to beer? Overall that segment along with comments from several drinkers along the way throughout the series confirmed to me that the average UK enthusiast doesn’t know shit about beer.
Unless you have been living with your head in the sand, or in an insular self absorbed country, you would be well aware that the state of QLD is a natural disaster area with large parts of the capital Brisbane underwater due to flooding. Some 90000 homes have been lost and over 100 people dead or feared missing. I’d like to bring your attention to this article which not only points out the obvious, but also highlights a rather serious issue – Beer shortage.
This is pretty serious. The XXXX brewery in Milton was flooded yesterday and production was forced to stop. The banana benders in far north Queensland drink more beer per capita than anywhere else on the planet, and now they are going to be faced with the worst situation of all – Pubs with no beer. I’m predicting riots and civil unrest as QLD moved forward into the cleanup period.
So you are probably sitting there in the UK or the US thinking, so what a few less gigalitres of XXXX in the world is probably a good thing. Well not really, consider how it would be if your backyard turned into a swamp? So what can YOU do? Head over to the relief fund at Aussiehomebrewer.com and make a donation and help support those affected, buy them a beer.
Hello esteemed readers and wall pissers, welcome to 2011. Exciting news for those down under. Sierra Nevada, the iconic brewery which is often stated to have started the craft beer revolution will now be legitimately imported by Phoenix Beers via refrigerated container.
Previously “grey imports” of the signature Pale Ale (SNPA for those with the lingo) have been smuggled in through Europe with a product landing in Australia that was well past its best and generally in pretty shit condition. This dodgy conduct with grey imports has caused a bit of a stir with the US based brewers over the past 12 months. I have not commented on the issue here at PIUTW as I couldn’t be bothered. Anyhow Phoenix Beer has stepped up and will have SN beers available through it’s online International Beer Shop.
With it’s elevated status in contemporary beer culture, there is great demand in Australia for Sierra Nevada products hence the ‘healthy’ grey market which has cropped up. Legit imported Sierra Nevada will be the freshest available and will note Phoenix as the importer on the label. Grey or dodgy imports will have other importers on the label and other suspicious acts such as the best before dates removed.
While this may not be of interest to a number of US and UK based readers it’s important for us down under as our geographical isolation often leaves us with only our local craft beer scene when it comes to quality. To be honest our local craft beers are good but are way overpriced due to our heft excise laws.
BTW SNPA will be retailing for $25 a six pack, so do the maths and work out how much mark up is on the beer. I recall paying $8 for a six pack when in New York in 2009.
For a more comprehensive and serious account of this exciting news, pop over and visit the good folk at Australian Brews News who I blatently stole this story from.
I thought BrewDogs high alcohol special releases were expensive, but Nail Brewing Antarctic Nail Ale takes the cake at A$1850 a bottle. This premium for a single bottle (of a limited release of 30) shows that as much as Caroline Nodder want’s to dispute it, there is a market for niche beers catering specifically to beer geeks. Proceeds from the sale of Antarctic Nail Ale will be going to support the pseudo-terrorist anti-whaling campaign Sea Shepherd.
Nail Brewing’s owner/brewer John Stallwood claims that the strictly limited-edition beer is the world’s purest, having been made with water melted from a block of Antarctic ice. The ice was collected from a large Antarctic iceberg by Stallwood’s brother-in-law, Kevin McGinty, who is a terrorist member of Sea Shepherd’s crew. Back in port in Hobart, the ice was melted then delivered to Stallwood in Perth, where he produced a 20-litre batch of his signature Nail Ale, using a pilot brewery at Edith Cowan University.
I personally don’t have an appetite for expensive geek only beer, however I wonder how much this version of Nail Ale differs from the original brewery sourced water version?
The SMH ran a story on the beer yesterday if you can be bothered to read anything that Willie Simpson has to say..
Oprah seems to be having a nice time down here in Australia. Besides forcing her US based opinions regarding golliwogs on our more tolerant nature, she has also been sampling some of Australia’s laid back lifestyle including the attendance of a bogan BBQ.
“But Winfrey fitted right in, noshing on tabouleh, chicken kebabs and salads – all washed down with a can of VB”
Doesn’t sound very Aussie to me. Where are the sausages, steak and proper real keg? To be fair the BBQ is a shining example of our of some of our ethnically diverse community, but VB? Really Oprah WTF.