Ok, now that the latest seasonal beer festival has finished, it's time for me to look through my notes and reflect on Wetherspoon's latest efforts. All in all - and I know from chatter that a lot of beer bloggers did the rounds - the usual sounds were being made. Range decent, Quality variable. Still, Wetherspoon's festivals do provide decent diversion, especially in the form of their festival specials.
Take for instance Birra Del Borgo's Castagnale (4.4%). Given my new love for Italian craft beer, this was the first on the list and, for the first time ever, was the first beer I got my hands on. Taste? Well, I was a little let down if truth be told - not because Castagnale was a bad beer (despite being served incredibly cold) - I just think that the bar has been set so high with the bottled likes of My Antonia and ReAle that Castangnale just ended up being a solid, nutty, sweet beer that I could happily drink about ten of.
Lion Stout (5.0abv) ended up being much more satisfying; creamy in a way that the bottled version just lacks - there was a perceptible milky smoothness underscoring all the coffee and chocolate on top. A good beer, and an unusual one to boot. Titanic's Wheat Porter (4.2abv) was an odd one though - ruby in colour, with a woody, resinous nose that held some promise - however there was a strange floral, parma violet note in it's drying finish that I just didn't get.
Young's Ram Rod (6%) hit the mark for these colder nights - full, rounded fruitiness in the body with a pleasant cereal base, finishing off with a fruity sweetness. As for Brewdog's Edge - well, I think I've said all I can about it here - it never disappoints and I'm seeing more and more of it in Leeds recently which is a great thing.
Wadworth's Pixley Blackcurrant Stout was a revelation; sweet, full-bodied and loaded with fruit-cake and plummy flavours, this beer finished my session one night and it's fair to say tipped me that one toke over the line. Dangerously drinkable and stealthy at 6.0abv, I hope I get to drink a while lot more of this before long. Ditto the other surprise of the festival -
Woodforde's Once Bittern (4.1abv) - in small packages come big flavour. This pint was spot-on; clean, fresh and balanced, with a wonderful juicy-fruit aroma that lasted all the way down to the bottom of the glass. Sure, maybe I got a really fresh pint, but of all breweries, Woodforde's really surprised me with this one. Will be seeking this out again, for sure.
So, these are the beers I chose to comment on. Rest assured, there were a number of beers inbetween these that were just 'ok'. But that's the nature of a festival isn't it. I'm a little gutted I didn't catch the Sam Adams Blonde Ambition, the Nelson-hopped Palm, and Adnam's Ghost Ship, and I heard excellent things about TSA's Double Espresso. Oh well, Maybe next time.