Saturday, 26 February 2011

Drinking in the Round

The Beer Festival season is well and truly underway in the East Midlands. CAMRA festivals in Loughborough and Leicester are coming very soon, but yesterday I hitched a ride on a fast train 'up north' to the annual Derby Winter Beer Festival, though not for the beer you understand.

Derby has long been known for the quality of its pubs, sometimes claiming to be the Beer Capital of Britain no less. It's also blessed with a brace of highly regarded CAMRA beer festivals, the Winter one being held at the truly impressive venue of The Roundhouse. I only wish I could have captured some of its atmosphere in my photos. I think I did better with the cider bar though, covering almost every aspect of barrels, pouring, and... well, that's about it isn't it!

I was particularly impressed with ciders from the newish Bath Cyder Co, whose Rough Diamond had a very polished and well-balanced flavour. The Oliver's Medium Cider was also a winner, but then I expect nothing less from cider and perry making legend Tom Oliver. The Checkley Brook Dabinett was fresh, young, and typical of a cider apple variety we've had some experience with ourselves. I enjoyed it a lot, though I'm pretty sure this will improve even more as it matures. I was also impressed with the (draws breath) Venton Skippy's Scrumpy Single Variety Pig's Nose Straw-Pressed Whiskey Cask Cyder (phew!). A good, clean Devon cider, exhibiting very little Whiskey or Straw character, which is not necessarily a bad thing...

Of the perries, Mike Johnson's ever-reliable Ross Perry was the one I'd be happy to drink all day long. The Day's Cottage Blakeney Red was nice too, though a little too sweet and underdeveloped for my taste.

All this was washed down with a plate of quality cheeses, and the good company of Torkard Cider's Ray Blockley. I'd like to thank the whole beer festival team for organising such an excellent festival, and Gillian, Alistair, and Pam in particular, for seeing to our every need at the cider bar.

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