The 39th Cambridge Beer Festival was the biggest yet with over forty-one thousand visitors. It was probably the hottest and sunniest too, an absolute smasher.
Brentwood BBC2 was voted Beer of the Festival, especially impressive for a beer of only 2.5% ABV, packing an orangey citrus punch well above its weight. It proved to be the perfect drink for long days in the sun and at only £2.20 a pint, nice they passed on to the customer the savings from lower rates of beer duty.
Liverpool Organic Kitty Wilkinson took second place, a sweet stout with plenty of chocolatey goodness and a pleasingly subtle use of vanilla.
The beers I most enjoyed were:
Blackbar Märzen – A preview of the beer brewed for the Octoberfest later this year and already tasting wonderful – full bodied and golden with a caramel sweetness, an intriguing beer from a brewery that only began this year.
Ole Slewfoot Citraville IPA – Earlier in the week this beer hadn’t particularly stood out, but come Saturday and from another cask, it really came into its own – a mouthful of fresh grapefruit and lemon flavours that slipped down easily – couldn’t serve this beer quick enough to thirsty drinkers.
Stringers Hop Priest – Enjoyed at the Ely Beer Fest earlier this year, it took a few days to come on but was worth the wait – a powerfully hoppy brew, hazy and resinous, that drew me back to the bar several times.
I tried Stringers Mutiny, a rich double stout, and for a moment it was December in front of a log fire, snow outside – but it was 30 degrees in the marquee so I think I’ll have to come back to it in the winter to really appreciate it. I was happier with something hoppier – golden, hoppy beers like Dancing Duck Abduction and Whim Flower Power were well suited to the sunny weather.
By the weekend there was a fresh supply of beer from Great Oakley, Humpty Dumpty, Nethergate, Old Cannon, White Horse and more from Milton whose Karolides was the sweetest thing this side of the mead bar, a wonderful beer.
And then there was the cheese…
Days before the festival opened, I’d helped out with the setting up…
The message on this cask really brought a smile to my face: