The Hawkshead Beer Festival is becoming a “must do” event every year for the sheer variety of new beers that are popping up from small producers nationwide. Hawkshead themselves presented 11 brews for starters with a few “newies” I’d not tasted before — 4.5% Dry Stone Stout — an oatmeal stout with flavours of roasted malt, coffee and chocolate with a dry finish, and a Damson & Vanilla stout, same ABV, which was softer with more vanilla than damson predominating . Their Cumbrian Five Hop at 5.0% a golden strong pale ale is described with a highly hopped aroma of tropical fruit with a blend of traditional Fuggles, Golding and Bramling Cross with added modern Citra and Amarillo giving a full flavour and long dry finish. Another Pale Ale using New Zealand Hops, Green Bullet, Riwaka, Motueka and Nelson Sauvin and a United States Pale Ale using Cascade, Simcoe and Colombus really show the inventiveness of this confident Company. Their strong stouts Imperial at 8.3%, Triple XBP at 8.5% and Brodie’s Prime Reserve , the last matured for 9 months in oak Bladnoch whisky Barrels are treats to be sample later.
Of the other breweries, Bristol Beer Factory’s Sunrise at 4.4%, a golden ale presented a soft palate with hints of “biscuity malt flavour and citrus hops” . Described as using Pale, Cara, Crystal and Wheat malts and English Pioneer hops for bitterness and aroma with added Goldings, this was a pleasant introduction to this 10 —barrel micro in Southville, Bristol.
Buxton Brewery was another new Company for me, set up in 2009 as a 5-barrel plant in the Peak District. Its Moor Top at 3.6% was a well balanced brew using American Chinook hops with a little sweetness on the palate finishing with lingering grapefruit bitterness. An American style Porter, Dark Nights was equally good, a deep chestnut brown with aromas of forest fruits and a rich biscuity body. Quite aromatic with a variety of US hops.
Magic Rock’s Curious was a very light, refreshing beer at 3.9%. Plenty of US hops in this with a floral, grassy aroma and citrus flavours. Would make a good aperitif, before eating. Magic Rock started brewing in 2011 in the Old Bed Factory attached to the Rockshop Wholesale Company in Huddersfield.
Similarly, Thornbridge’s from Thornbridge Hall, Derbyshire’s White Swan at 3.5% was full of flavour, very pale with refreshing aromas of bitter lemon, a few herbs and a subtle spiciness on the palate.
Was not impressed with the Somerset’s Moor Beer Company’s policy of un-fined beers. Their Revivial at 3.8% had an unfinished and unbalanced palate which did not suit me.
Finally, Quantum Brewery’s Pale Ale was a lovely fruity combination at 4.5%. This Company set up in 2011 is a 5-barrel brewery based in Stockport and should do well.
Other companies not tasted, so I hope you get reports from the Smiths and Martin, were Graduate IPA from the Bitches Brew Companyat 6.5%, a very new Company from the Grove Pub in Huddersfield; Dark Star from Partridge Green, Horsham; Fyne Ales from Argyll; Kernell from Bermondsey; Kirstall; Marble Beers from Manchester; Ossett, West Yorkshire; Redemption from Tottenham; Redwillow from Sutton Mill, Macclesfield and St. Austell from Cornwall.
Lurking somewhere on site were ciders from the Pure North Cider Press from the Holme Valley, West Yorkshire a 6% Pure North Valley Gold, a 7% Deanhouse Dry and a 7.2% Valley Zest.