Due to family commitments I couldn't make the usual Saturday afternoon session at NWAF, so I had a preview at the Wednesday evening session with Mark & Geoff. CAMRA reveal the champion beers on this session, so it seemed a good time to go.
The new venue - the Sheridan Suit - feels better than the New Century Hall where it was previously held near Victoria Station, but its a long walk out of town to get to. A long walk.
The beer is the important thing though & we threw caution to the wind & tried some strong 'uns. Partially because I didn't have to drive the next morning & partially because they serve third of a pint measures called nips. Nips are the new halves.
Voted Bronze Medal in Champion Winter Beer of Britain 2010:
Acorn, Gorlovka Imperial Stout - the festival guide says 5%, the brewery website says 6%. Either way I can't see the Imperial connection - Imperial stouts were exported to the Russian royal family & much like an IPA had to be strong enough to survive the voyage to St Petersburg by boat so would be more like 10% alcohol. Still, a bold beer with lots of burnt, dry flavours. 6/10.
Augustiner, Helles Lagerbier 5.2% - a good example of a Helles style malty lager. 7/10.
Beckstone, Haematite 5.5% - the chemical / mineral reference got me looking for this one. Lots of sweet malt % caramel in this one. 6/10.
Burton Bridge, Old Expensive 5.5% - a strong tasting bitter with a big malt body. 5/10.
Coniston, No.9 Barley Wine - This brewery can brew no wrong, so we had to try this one. Orange marmalade & a little syrupy. 8/10.
Coniston, Old Man Ale 4.2% - named after the mountain, a good ordinary, darker ale. 6/10.
Derwent, Auld Kendal 5.7% - the is some romance involved with Lake District beers (apart from Hesket Newmarket) big on maltiness & dark fruit. 5/10.
Voted Supreme Champion Winter Beer of Britain 2010:
Fyfe, Baffie 4.3% - Scottish microbreweries make some of my favourite beers right now so I had to try this. It was a fairly ordinary golden beer though. 5/10. Incidently, this brewery must have the best beer name I've heard in ages: Weiss Squad.
Fyne, Highlander 4.8% - Fyne make my current favourite beer - Avalanche - & a few other great beers, so I can't pass these guys by. This tastes just like my recent home brew GEM, a refreshingly citrussy beer with a lemon & grapefruit hoppy flavour. Excellent quaffing beer. 8/10.
Fyne Piper's Gold 3.8% - A smashing beer in a bottle, but dissapointing on tap by comparison. A golden beer that was well balanced. 5/10.
Kinver, Khyber 5.8% - the name drew me in. Although comedy names don't often go with good beers, this could always be playing on the name of the famous pass rather than the inuendo or Carry On film. This was a good IPA in the American style ie more citrussy hops than English earthy ones. 7/10.
Lymestone, Foundation Stone 4.5% - a brewery I'd heard a fair bit about but never tried their beers. A reasonalbe golden beer but with a little harsh sulphury taste. 5/10.
Lymestone, The Crows 5.4% - a very dark beer with a caramel flavour. 5/10.
Milton, Pegasus 4.1% - An ordinary bitter. 5/10.
Molson-Coors, Red Shield 4.2% - Nice enough, but ultimately an ordinary bitter beer.
Moor, JJJ IPA 9.0% - A really good traditional style IPA with a big malty body - a little sweetish - & loads of Cascade-like hops thrown at it. An alcohol warmth to it too. 6/10.
O'Hanlons, Dry Stout 4.2% - another brewery that brews no wrong - although their best beer was their wheatbeer which the don't make anymore - a good dryish stout. 6/10.
Vierzehnheiligen, Silberbock 7.2% - a big bodied beer, a little syrupy sweet. 6/10.
The champion beers voted by CAMRA are here.