Friend of Craft Beer Hour, Lucy Kemp, has kindly written this brilliant blog post for us about her recent visit to the highly acclaimed, Birmingham Beer Bash!
Walking into the third annual Birmingham Beer Bash I know how Charlie felt when he entered the chocolate factory. Beer as far as the eye can see.
53 breweries, and a vast amount of beer. Where to start?
Luckily we were prepared with a focussed Beer Bash Strategy. A careful couple of hours spent pouring over the list of breweries and beers, taking some Twitter recommendations from fellow beer geeks as well as suggestions from beer and food writer Mary Griffin.
Our pre Beer Bash must-have selection went as follows:
- Beavertown Quelle – the newest brew from the current kings of craft beer
- Emelisse Crème Brule Stout – Crème Brule. Stout. Need we say any more?
- Kernel Brewery London Sour: Raspberry – god love the Kernel brewery, personally I need to educate myself more about sours so this seems like a good place to start
- Magic Rock Brewery Bearded Lady Chocolate Orange – the first of many Magic Rock beers we want to try.
- Magic Rock Brewery Pina Collision – another foray into the world of sours and this sounds right up our street.
- Magic Rock Brewery Highwire (grapefruit) – definitely a fruity theme coming through in our choices.
Feeling confident with a beer tasting strategy in place we picked up our glasses and headed to the bar. Alas the strategy was thrown completely out the window at the first hurdle - not all the beers listed are on at the same time (should really have known this). Mild panic set in but decisions were made and round one was in here’s how we chose;
- Cloudwater Brewery Pale Ale – a clear fine tasting pale ale. A good place to start the day of tasting
- Liverpool Beer Co. – rye pale ale. Not a challenging beer, easy drinking and again a good place to start
- Beavertown, Earl Phantom - for some of the group this was the first foray into sour beer and what an introduction it was
- XXX Brewery, BBQ – smoky is an understatement. Imagine drinking a BBQ, quite an intense way to start the day and probably would have been better later in the evening but never the less it was a really interesting and complex beer
And the winner of round one goes to… it had to be the Beavertown boys. One of our tasters thought it was like drinking a glass of wine – sweet, sour, fruity, tea-like. So many flavours and oh so refreshing.
For round two the hunt was on to beat the Beavertown. Wanting to try broad spectrum of what was on offer we came back with a selection of lagers, stouts and as IPL from Freedom Brewery.
The winner this time was just as pleasant on the nose as it was on taste. Infact even just the name had the majority of our table drooling all hail the Crème Brule Stout from the Emelisse Brewery.
This was just outstanding. We all agreed it got even better as it got slightly warmer, like drinking liquid desert. A real triumph and something every beer lover should try at least one.
Feeling a little more adventurous most of us headed for the Wild & Sour bar for round three. Pre-beer bash much discussion was had about sours with some of our group undecided. But to say Beer Bash was an education is an understatement. We’ve seen the light sours are where it’s at. Book the tickets to Belgium we’re ready to challenge our taste buds.
The sour that pleased the most came from Magic Rock Brewery. Pina Collision was an absolute delight. You could smell the sticky sweet fruit a mile off, on first sip we weren’t sure. Mixed signals being sent between tongue and brain but after a minute to adjust we were all convinced this was the way forward.
The final documented round (obviously things were getting a little merry by this point) was given to Magic Rock again. This time for their High Wire Grapefruit, a West Coast pale. Fruity, refreshing, tropical and highly quaffable.
One thing that was noticeable about this year’s bash was the increase in volume of keg beer. On trade day there were much bigger queues for keg than cask. Could craft signal the decline of cask? Is the quality and consistency of keg a potential nail in the coffin for cask? Only time will tell.
About Lucy Kemp
An avid fan of craft beer, Lucy is a co-founder of Clarity Comms – a specialist food and drink PR agency based in Birmingham.
With more than twelve years experience in PR – seven of which nested in food and drink, Lucy has an enviable background in craft beer and has helped many businesses in the alcohol sector get off the ground with Clarity’s range of content and social media services.
To find out more about Clarity, or just to chat beer, follow @kempyl on Twitter!