...Well, a good day was had by all yesterday at the National Winter Ales Fest in Manchester. Before getting into the beers, I'd just like to thank the Venue and the Organisers for such a good festival - it doesn't sound like much to organise the basics such as friendly, knowledgeable staff, a great, spacious venue, and a cracking beer list, but if you go to enough of these events you'll know it is - and CAMRA did really well here. The boys, so to speak, have done good.
Anyway - onto the beer. Despite my initial despair at missing Robinson's Chocolate Tom (but that's what you get for going on the last day - damn having to work!!), my pint of, well, Marble's Pint more than made up for it. I've had this a few times before but I really need to start lobbying pubs in Leeds to get it - such grapefruit on the nose, a burst of tropical fruit on the tongue and a surprisingly restrained bitterness for such a fruity beer. It's wonderful stuff, put a smile on my face, and set the tone for rest of the day.
Despite what you might personally think about Cain's, I am a stickler for their Fine Raisin Beer - so to try it on draught was a real must for me. Dark amber in colour, with an exceedingly malt-cereal body, it's a great beer. The juicy, slightly candied raisin note comes in right and the end, and stops the beer being cloying. A treat.
Other beers to impress me throughout the day were Hawkshead's Organic Stout, which managed to be wonderfully smokey and roasty without being heavy, Bernard's Pilsner, which provided a great, cold zing and cleansed the palate after lunch, and Otley's wonderful 08 - pale, really smooth and refreshing, but then finishing with a big hit of warming alcohol. Perfect for weather like this, and proof that a well-brewed strong golden ale can still be found in the UK.