This past Thursday Duncan took me and a few of the boys to the Battersea Beer Festival at the Battersea Arts Center. When we arrived, we collected our glasses and proceded into the main hall where we were greeted by rows stacked two high and two abreast with casks. According to the program there were about 150 real ales on dispense, so naturally, we proceeded to try as many as we could.
I obviously didn't try a beer from every brewery at the event, but of the ones I tried, the brewery I was most impressed with was Purple Moose. They are very small brewery (only a ten barrel brewhouse) from the town of Porthmadog in North Wales. I had the pleasure of tasting two of their ales, the Glaslyn Ale and Dark Side of the Moose. Both were exquisite. The Glaslyn Ale is a golden bitter with a sweet lingering finish balanced by just the right amount of hop bitterness. The nose is also rather fruity, seeming to come from both yeasty esters and from late hop additions. At 4.2% it is an easily quaffable beer and one that I could spend entire nights drinking. I tried Dark Side of the Moose immediately after the Glaslyn Ale and it was a great follow up beer. Darker, more full bodied and more bitter than the Glaslyn Ale. It is not one that you would necessarily drink pint after pint of, but it is extremely enjoyable. Both ales exhibit similar ester profiles, which I assume comes from the same yeast being fermented at similar temperatures. Dark Side of the Moose, to me, was just a natural progression from the Glaslyn Ale, with darker malts, stepped up bitterness, and a higher gravity.
There was also a dedicated room at the festival to cider and perry. One has to be careful with cider and perry, because the alcohol content can be quite high (sometimes upwards of 8%). Because of this, we tried one half pint each to preserve ourselves for the rest of the night. Real Cider (cider not of the Strongbow variety and the counterpart to Real Ale) has been a recent discovery of mine. I find good ciders to be very refreshing, if not somewhat overly intoxicating. As such, I have endevoured of late to try as many as I can within reasonable limits. My experience with cider has been that the beverage can range from almost cloying sweetness to an acrid acidity reminiscent of lactic acid spoilage in beer. While I find the extreme edges to be unpleasant, the middle ground is amazing. Refreshing and quaffable even at high gravities. The one cider I did try at the event was CJ's Medium Dry. It was good, just the right amount of acidity balanced with some residual sweetness. Again, the alcohol content was high (I can't recall exactly but I believe it was about 7%), so we drank our half pints gingerly and proceded back to the main hall.