The 42nd Cambridge Beer Festival begins on Monday 18th May and runs through to Saturday 23rd.
An estimated 200 beers from around 100 British breweries will be available, including 8 breweries from the branch area making up 16 Cambridgeshire breweries – Blackbar, Bexar County, Calverley’s, Cambridge Brewing Company, Crafty Beers, Elgoods, Fellows Brewery, Lord Conrad’s, Mile Tree, Milton, Moonshine, Oakham, Son of Sid, Three Blind Mice, Tydd Steam, and Xtreme Ales.
There’ll also be around 50 more beers from overseas, over 60 ciders and perrys including some from 11 Cambridgeshire cider makers, along with 10 meads, and a selection of English wines.
Locales to Lossie ales
The beers brewed nearest to the festival come from Cambridge Brewing Co. less than 600 metres away. The British beers that have travelled the furthest come from Windswept in Lossiemouth, Scotland – just over 400 miles as the crow flies, over another 100 miles by road.
As this is the 42nd Cambridge Beer Festival, a few beers are named after the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (42 was the answer to “The Ultimate Question of Life, the Universe, and Everything”) – the author Douglas Adams was born in Cambridge, and was a student of St John’s College from 1971 to 1974.
- Bartrams – Perfectly Normal Beer
- Humpty Dumpty – Pan Galactic Gargle Blaster
- Milton – Cor Aurum (an “infinitely improbable ale”)
- Xtreme Ales – Vogon Poetry
Moonshine’s latest beer ‘5th Moon’ is made using barley grown on the farm in Fulbourn where they’re based. The barley is a new variety called Irina, and it’s apparently the first time a beer has been brewed using it anywhere in the U.K. Moonshine have won beer of the festival on three occasions and always prove popular – on one evening last year, 9 gallons of Moonshine’s ‘Heavenly Matter’ sold in under 11 minutes.
Milton have a special version of their Marcus Aurelius imperial stout, enhanced with port from the Quinta de la Rosa vineyard.
Breweries new to Cambridge Beer Festival
Over twenty breweries make their first appearance at Cambridge Beer Festival this year – Alechemy, Alecraft, Anspach & Hobday, Brampton, Cwrw Iâl, Gyle 59, Hammerton, Hardknott, Hop Stuff, KCB, Loch Ness, Moncada, Nene Valley, Pig & Porter, Privateer, Raw, 3 Brewers, Tiny Rebel, Verulam, Weird Beard, Windswept, and Xtreme Ales.
Two previous ‘Beer of the Festival’ winners return this year – Brentwood BBC 2, winner in 2012, and Moonshine Red Watch Blueberry, winner in 2005. There are also a couple of beers that have won the award at the Cambridge Winter Ale Festival – Elmtree Nightlight Mild (2009) and Sarah Hughes Dark Ruby Mild (2008)
There’ll be a good choice of unfined, vegan-friendly beers, including:
- Bartrams – Black Forest Porter & Soviet Stout
- Bexar County – Cacahuete, El Último Adiós and Hop Damn
- Cambridge Brewing Company – Chocolate & Banana Stout
- Crafty Beers – Sauvignon Blonde and Wilbraham
- Gyle 59 – Toujours Saison
- Moncada – Notting Hill Ruby Rye and Summer
- Moonshine – Black Hole Stout
- Moor – Return of the Empire and Traditional Mild
- Weird Beard – K*ntish Town Beard
- Windswept – APA, Tornado and Weizen
Gluten Free beers
- Hopback – Crop Circle
- Poppyland – Freshes Creek and Harvest
- St Peters – G Free
- Stringers – The North (Will Rise Again)
- Wold Top – Against the Grain
Turn up the heat
If you like your beer hot, there are a couple of beers brewed using chilli peppers – Binghams entry level Hot Dog Chilli Stout carries a “warming afterglow” of chilli, while further up the Scoville Scale Bexar County’s Hop Damn is “brewed using the Holy trinity of Mexican dried chillies and dry chillied with habaneros”, and is “not for the faint of heart”! If that’s your thing, in the Food Hall the Merry Berry Truffles & Chocolates stall has bags of the lethal Scorpion Death Chilli Chocolate. If you still have taste buds to torture, in-between beer festival sessions, head over to the Maypole, a freehouse just 5 minutes away, holding a beer festival which includes Hand Drawn Monkey’s Siamango Chilli beer, a mango, lime and chilli IPA.
Turn down the volume
The three beers with the lowest ABV manage to be low in alcohol without being short of flavour – Weird Beard Dark Hopfler and Brentwood BBC 2 both at 2.5% ABV, and Three Blind Mice Table Liquor 2.8%.
And if that hasn’t convinced you to visit, there’s always the cheese stall
(See page 55 of the Beer Festival programme for some excellent suggestions for cheese and beer pairing)
Amendments to the programme
Potton Lion has been replaced by Village Bike.
Bartrams Chocolate Cherry Porter is named Black Forest Porter
The following beers will not be available:
- Fellows – Gulping Fellow
- Green Jack – Red Herring
15 years ago
The Foreign Beer Bar served it’s first draught beer – Leeuw Valkenburgs Wit – while Milton Brewery made it’s first appearance with beers including Pegasus, here again this year.
10 years ago
Moonshine Brewery made it’s second appearance, going on to win overall Beer of the Festival for the second consecutive year! 2005 saw the first appearance from Moor brewery, joint winner in 2013 with Old Freddy Walker, another two beers from them this year.
5 years ago
Brew dog’s Punk IPA was being served straight from the cask and weighed in at 6.2% ABV – it’s now 5.6% and is no longer available on cask – while Thornbridge Kipling and Jaipur were voted 1st & 3rd best beers overall.