Saturday, December 27, 2014

Portsmouth Christmas Beer Festival 2014

Hoping this event will be come a regular fixture on the social calendar as it was an enormous amount of good fun, and a very welcome "time out" from the utter mayhem and frenetic-ism that is the modern day run up to Christmas!

So it was that on Saturday lunchtime the current Mrs Steve-the-Wargamer, his sister and brother in law found themselves in line waiting to enter the Guildhall in Portsmouth...  by serendipitous means, my sis had bought the tickets, and I was buying the beer tokens..  perfect!

Brewery (clickable) Beer (click for more info) ABV Notes (from brewery website) What I can remember...
Dark Star APA 4.7% "The yeast strain used for the brewing of this American style pale ale is specially imported from the USA, along with Cascade, Centennial and Chinook hops. The low colour Maris Otter malt provides a perfect light colour and dryness to complement the crisp taste and full aroma of the hops. SERIOUSLY FULL OF HOPS" 
A little stronger than my usual starting beers, but I live this stuff, and it was a handy tipple to enjoy while I perused the beer list..

Oh, and the beer description from the brewer sums up the beer to a tee..  delicious..
Ilkley Mary Jane 3.5%
"Multi-award-winning pale ale packed with American hops. Intensely refreshing and satisfying, with surprising balance and body for such a low abv. Mary Jane was named from the character in the Yorkshire folk song On Ilkla Moor Baht'at and is our best-selling beer by a country mile. Hast tha’ been a’cooartin Mary Jane?"
A step down in strength, and unfortunately also flavour..  there were definite possibilities, but it all tasted a little watery - maybe the APA as a starter wasn't such a good idea..
Castle Rock Snowhite 4.2% "Castle Rock’s “ice maiden”! Snowhite is a very pale and very refreshing ale with a delicate and distinctive hop character." Up the strength list for the next one - chosen partly because it is brewed in Nottingham, which is where my grandparents lived.. the castle rock in question is the one Nottingham Castle is built on..   As for the beer, not bad at all and a definite step up in taste..  nice...
360 Degrees West Coast Pale Ale #50 5% "Using solely American hops, a contemporary Pale Ale, heavily hopped to produce intense tropical fruit flavours and a long bitter finish." Regular readers of my beer ramblings will know that I like the new style ales brewed with the more powerful American hops, so you can see why I was drawn to this ..  very nice, super dry mouth finish..
Tiny Rebel The Full Nelson 4.8% "Our ‘Maori Pale Ale’ came together after months of experimentation with a very unique hop – Nelson Sauvin from New Zealand. Strong grape flavours are complemented by the sweet Munich malt, making this beer crisp and refreshing."
An interesting beer description always gets my attention - and New Zealand hops sounded exactly that despite the fact the brewery is actually in Wales... bit sweet for me, but I still finished it!
Dark Star Revelation 5.7% "A blend of Warrior, Cascade, Columbus, Crystal and Chinook by the sack full – then dry hopped during conditioning using our ‘Hoptimizer’ (Industrial sized hookah)." Oh man, this is grown up beer, and another from one of my favourite breweries of all time...  seriously heavy, hoppy, fruity flavours and a massive hit of dryness in the after taste..  a sipping beer for sure...
Hopback Winter Lightning 5% "Brewed with Fuggles and East Kent Golding hops, very lightly-spiced, this chestnut ale is deceptively drinkable!" Hopback are another of my top 5 brewers, and this is the winter version of their awesome "Summer Lightning"..  much darker, maltier, and a subtle hint of cinnamon..  you couldn't drink pints of it, but it is exceptional...
Roosters Old Faithful 4.3% "A blend of three hops from three different countries, Tenderfoot is a premium-strength pale ale that highlights the berry-fruit qualities that each of the hops (Bramling Cross, Pacific Gem & Cluster) bring to the party. Aromas of blackcurrant and blackberry are followed up by a refreshing level of bitterness." Last one of the session, and a nice beer to end on - fairly delicate, but flavoursome...

An excellent venue, and a good lunchtime session - four bands (three of which were OK'ish to awful, but one of whom was good fun), and a delightful selection of ales...


  1. Portsmouth + Beer Festival - surely that must be the very definition of what heaven is?

    1. Miles... there are certain parts of Portsmouth that even there own mother (if a city can have one) wouldn't say were "heaven", but I suspect that would have been the case in Nelson's day as well.. and at least we now have penicillin... the festival however, and the immediate surrounds, were perfect...

  2. Currently enjoying St Austell Brewery "Proper Job". A rather strong 5.5% golden coloured beer. Rather nice actually.

    1. Matt, my favourte bottle beer of the moment.. and a classic example of the style that I currently enjoy.. big hop hit, but using the American hops like citra ... little like a dry grapefruit flavour.. 'licious..!

  3. Replies
    1. Cheers Paul... very easy though.. take a bunch of friends, find beer festival, drink beer, talk complete and utter twaddle, laugh a lot.. jobs done... :o)

  4. How handy! Sounds like some interesting ones too!

    1. Legatus, very, and yes - a nice selection of the darker spicier Christmas type beers..