So a month or two ago it pained me to write about the failing quality of beer and my own personal opinion that if the current wave of popularity of good beer be it real ale, craft, micro brew or classic brewery is to faulter and slow the main culprit would be quality. The fact I can pay £5 in a pub in Newcastle and get a beer of questionable quality and be suprised by this.
However following that post I have been on a beery holiday and to a craft beer event and upon reflection have found the one common thread amongst all that’s been good about my beer consumption the past few months and it’s the one thing a uniform massive brewery and supermarkets can’t ever match, quality of service.
In September I travelled down to Cardiff to the great Welsh beer festival, held in a former industrial unit turned event space called the depot and filled with hundreds of Welsh ales I had never drank before and street food vendors from across Wales.
The beers where at mixed bag from bland to supurb as you would expect from a cask ale festival stocking something for everyone. particular mention goes to pipes for a couple of great ipas, but the thing that truely made the festival great was the welcome we received by the members of Cardiff Camra branch, when they found out we had traveled so far they offered us free entry throughout our stay, when I re assured them that was not nessisary as I had pre paid entry we received free drink tokens. As we sat across the weekend we Had numerous volenteer staff come to chat on breaks from serving on the bars or after shift for a drink, They along with a few of the punters proved great company over the weekend.
After our three sessions at the festival we headed into Cardiff to Tiny rebel urban tap a pub in the city centre owned obviously by tiny rebel that has the feel of a brewdog venue but definitely not the cost of one. Amongst the guest cask and keg beers the tiny rebel beers stand out as even more experimental and interesting but always carrying a quality and balance simular beers sometimes lack. once again however the welcome was warm and even on a busy Saturday night the venue never felt like a cold indifferent night club.
The other event of the past few weeks was craft beer calling in Wylam Brewerys palace of the arts in exhibition park. I arrived at the venue having been away on a training trip from work that had seen me up at 5.30 and return to Newcastle at around 4pm so I was expecting this to be a grumpy affair where a tired version of myself drags himself through too many strong beers and pays over the odds for the honour, what actually happened was a coming together of many of britain and indeed the world’s best brewers staffing there own bars mire than happy to chat beer and sell you some for a price in line with a pub!
Once again the stars of the show where behind the bar with a big smile and welcoming chatter about each of the beers on offer I drank long into the night and rarely below 6-7% abv almost all with interesting flavours and ideas.
Beers from magic rock, Northern monk, cloudwater, wild beer Co, Mad hatter, Wylam, mikeller and many more where available but the few standouts for me happened to come fittingly from newcastle and Cardiff with Northern alchemy’s mint chocolate stout that tasted like a mint aero of a beer smooth as you like and sweet as sugar, a attribute matched by tiny rebel’s stay puft toasted marshmalow porter that they seem to be moving towards making part of the Base line up rather than a seasonal special along with cwub tropicana fruity tasting ipa.
So in summary can a beer truely be great without great people behind it?, whilst I still believe the poor quality that plagues the trade will slow growth or even force a decline from what we have today it is always a relief to see so many people who still have drive passion and love for the stuff that shall always be around and with the improved availability online and in pubs it’s a lot easier to find them.
North by north yeast