There are three festivals currently organised by the South Hampshire branch of CAMRA. Two of them, the Southampton Beer Festival and the Winchester Real Ale and Cider Festival, are relatively big. The first is normally held in early June, while the second is in March. Since 2010 the branch has also been organising the smaller Woolston Beer Festival, usually held in early October.
I have been to the Southampton and the Winchester festivals basically every year, yet never to Woolston. It was time to give it a try. As usual I decided to voluteeer, so to give my support and in the meantime get to try a little bit of all beers on offer.
Before moving to my top three beers though, I believe I should mention quite a remarkable detail: this year 50% of the 32 ales available at the festival were produced by brewsters (female brewers). A real achievement. I really appreciate that the organisers decided to support the raising number of brewsters in Britain. I would love to see more women at beer festivals, and this is definitely going to help.
Now, beers. Lots of hoppy golden ales and lots of stouts this year. Here is the beer list (from the official website):
Betteridge Serious Black 4.2%
Bowman Quiver 4.5%
Bowman Lapwing Gold 4.0%
Brewster Aromantica 4.2%
Brewster Decadance 4.4%
Botley Hampshire Bitter 3.8%
Dancing Duck Dark Drake 4.5%
Dancing Man Pilgrim Pale 3.9%
Dancing Man Jack O'Diamonds 4.5%
Dancing Man Old Fashioned 5.5%
Flowerpots Hopton Ale 4.2%
Flowerpots Opus 4.7%
Green Jack Lurcher Stout 4.8%
Langham Black Swallow 6.0%
Langham Decennium 4.0%
Ilkley Lotus IPA 5.6%
Ilkley Ruby Jane 4.2%
Mallinson Columbus 3.8%
Mallinson Brewers Gold 3.7%
Mauldons Micawbers Mild 3.5%
Offbeat Dysfunctional IPA 4.8%
Offbeat Blood Orange 4.5%
Oldershaw Blonde Volupta 5.0%
Oldershaw Great Expectations 4.2%
Red Cat Mr M's Porter 4.5%
Red Cat Prowler Pale 3.6%
Triple fff Jabberwocky 5.0%
Triple fff Smells Like Team Spirit 4.8%
Waen Chilli Plum Porter 6.1%
Waen Pamplemousse 4.2%
Vibrant Forest Kaleidoscope 6.5%
Vibrant Forest Black Forest 4.9%
I have tried most of them (in red the ones I did not get to taste), and here is my top three:
Botley, Hampshire Bitter (score 4.50)
Standard bitter, wonderful acacia honey on the nose, powerful hoppy taste. Light-medium body. I would love it with some hard cheese and pear chutney.
Flowerpots, Hopton Pale (score 4.25)
Although they use American hops, this India Pale Ale has a distinctive British touch, which is what I personally like in this beer. Well-balanced, nice golden color with orangey shades, bread crust in the aftertaste. I would pair this with a chicken curry.
Waen, Pamplemousse (score 4.25)
Beautiful deep golden color; nice resinous and piney aroma with hints of honey, some sulfurous notes as well. Medium body, good bitter-sweet balance and remarkable long finish. Very harmonic.
Also, I have scored 4: Brewster’s Decadence, Red Cat Prowler Pale, Vibrant Forest Kaleidoscope, Mauldons Mild, Vibrant Forest Black Forest.
Have you ever tried any of these? If not, you should. Otherwise, please let me know your opinion.