I hadn't been to the Cockermouth beer Festival in years - since 2007 in fact. Previously it's been a hit & miss affair with 2006 being the worst beer festival I'd ever been to. Both 2006 & 7 had many TCP-tasting beers - so much so that they couldn't have all have come from the breweries & must have been the fault of the organisers. 2005's was great however.
The official website could be improved too with its beer list saying its from 2011, though I suspect it's this year's as some of the breweries weren't around back then.
You'll get a better greeting from the sponsor Jennings' website.
It's been several years since I've been & it may have all changed so I'm visiting on Friday night to check.
Post Beer Festival.
Cumbrian Legendary Ales, Pacific Voyage – 1st beer of the night & a wonderfully soft, passionfruit & citrus-like hoppiness. Easy drinking & a sign that the badly kept beer of the past was gone. 9/10.
Stringer’s, Brauhaus – I do love a crossover lager-in-the-ale-style beer & Stringer’s are a very reputable new wave brewery. This was a muddy, sweetish beer that really wasn’t anything like the clean tasting brew I was expecting. 4/10.
Eden, Dark Knight – Ugh! Phenolic, barnyard (being generous there) & butterscotch. Three off-flavours all dialled up in one beer. Down the sink in the toilets. 1/10.
Hardknott, Lux Borealis – lime cut grass, but not the fresh kind. Like a musty compost bin a couple of sunny days after the grass clippings have been chucked on. 5/10.
Independent Lakeland Breweries, Entante Cordiale – a little oxidised like it had been on the bar 4 days, yet the beer festival only opened yesterday. 5/10. I had this in The Castle just down the road a couple of weeks ago & it was a lovely, subtle pale ale – what a difference!
Hardknott, Azimuth – steering clear of the real ales again due to the handling issues I had a craft keg beer from a trusted brewery who brew beers that are interesting if not necessarily quaffable. I was rewarded with an excellently OTT pine resin & grapefruity hoppy pale ale with a big body, yet dryish. Super stuff. 9/10.
Coniston, Oliver’s Pale Ale – at this point I was not touching the real ale due to the mishandling of it & did what drinkers did in the ‘70’s: turn to keg. Even this wasn’t what I expected from a brewing legend as is Coniston. Creamy with some Demerara sugar & sweet malt, but still had a taint of…something. 7/10.
Amongst all this was the head brewer of festival sponsor Jennings Brewery. I wonder if he experienced the same dreadfully mishandled beers that I drank? I wonder if Jennings are proud to be associated with this beer festival as a good showcase of what’s available locally? I know it’s a Round Table event in aid of a good cause, but we’re not supposed to be put out to advance the course of the charity.
We spent about an hour in the beer festival before hitting the streets of Cockermouth where the Timothy Taylor Landlord in Carlin’s Bar was served perfectly & the Becks Vier in the curry house was in the top half of what we’d drunk that night.
It is extremely unlikely that the majority of the brewers all gave poor quality beer to the festival (small brewers in fact would be very careful in preventing this kind of bad advert when they can’t afford promotions) – it is most likely that the organisers mishandled the product.
I suggest Jennings sponsor the beer festival next year by training the organisers in cellar skills. A web designing business could also sponsor the festival by sorting out their website.