It was a triumph of optimism over experience as this beer festival has been both great & absolutely awful in the past. Usually its not the breweries fault as most of the beers across the bar have a TCP or foul drain odour / taste - a sign that it's the bar & cellar skills that are the problem.
I'm glad I met up with my friend Andrew - a local to Cockermouth for over 15 years now - as this year had many new beers & breweries present in good form. Mitchell Krause have become Tractor Shed & their commitment to world beer styles is still the same. I was so pleased to see Dark Star - one of my favourite brewers - from such a long way away in Sussex get one of their best beers on the bar.
The two of us met three other guys at a table with seats free & ended up discussing beer - naturally - & even joined up to form a quiz team named after one of my beers the Ice Pigs. We managed to get through quite a few beers betweeen us, but without too much worry about getting up for work the next day as a quick totting up reveals I drank 4 pints - enough for me these days as it is;
Coniston, Asrai - a subtle peach & mango hoppy blonde ale, with some sweetish malt. A QI (quite interesting) beer. 9/10
Coniston, Infinity IPA - my 1st beer of the night picked on the strength of the brewery alone as I hadn't read my beer guide yet. A tropical fruity hoppy IPA with little lingering bitterness. 8/10
Eden, Atomic Blonde - Had a barnyard smell which thankfully didn't translate too much into the taste. A decently hopped bitter. 6/10
Hawkshead, Jingle Fells - a weird beer & a QI beer too. Cardamon & spices. 7/10
Independent Lakeland Breweries, Entente Cordiale - TCP flavour / aroma dominated making whatever was underneath irrelevent. Almost certainly the fault of the bar & not the brewer 1/10
Stringer's, West Coast Blonde - dank aroma & sewerdrain flavour. Under this is a hoppy, zesty citrussy pale ale. I'm fairly sure this was down to the cellar skills of the festival organisers 4/10
Tractor Shed, Hefe Weissbier - massive banana & clover stereotypical taste for a German-style weissbier. Interesting. 8/10
Tractor Shed, Mowdy - delicately hoppy, sweet malty red ale. 7/10
Bootleg, Metro Pirate - loads of vanilla flavour, very little hop character, sweetish & a little thin. Interesting. 6/10
Adnams, Shingle Shells - pine resin hoppiness grabs you from the first sniff to the last taste. Some sweet malt, some zesty bitterness, but this is all about the pine resinous hoppiness. Great stuff & definitely a QI beer. 8/10
Dark Star, Espresso - superior coffee stout with which all coffee stouts must be judged against. 9/10
Kite, Uncle Sam's IPA - sour / vinegar smell indicated that this beer had been oxygenated & not the festivals fault. Yuck! 0/10
Hardknott, Juxta - a light, hoppy light ale. Easily identified as a lower alcohol beer at 1.9%, but a good drink none-the-less. 7/10
A few duds, but all-in-all a great festival.