I went to the Nottingham Beer Festival last night, a Nottingham Camra organised festival - and a very well organised one at that. £12.50 gets you in, ten beer tokens (3 of which get you a half, 2 for a third of a pint) and a glass to put the beer in. There is a massive range (over 900) of beers, more than enough to keep you busy for the whole weekend should you feel so inclined.
What I think set this festival apart from, for example, Camra's Great British Beer Festival was the focus on it really being a Nottingham festival - local brewers and local bands providing a focal point, and a real festival feel rather than it being about beer geekery and nothing else. Small criticisms but I did think it wasn't that easy to find a specific beer if you were looking for it (although it might just have been me chatting rather than trying that hard), and if Camra are trying in any way to lose their image that they are often maintaining on numerous blogs is so outdated then that T-shirt stand should go - it's embarrassing.
Despite my rather scatter-gun approach to tasting the beers on offer I didn't have any that I didn't enjoy. I was looking for a couple in particular, the Brass Castle 'Bad Kitty' and the Magic Rock 'High Wire' but apart from that I tended to go for the ones I thought would have enough of a flavour punch to keep me interested - hops away!
Black Iris 'Intergalactic IPA' - The fledgling brewery's new brew, and a very good one too. Pale with a delicious hoppy bite. 6%
Brass Castle 'Bad Kitty' Porter - Excellent vanilla porter, like a vanilla and dark chocolate milkshake but without any cloying sweetness. Rich and satisfying. 5.5%
Empire Brewery 'Bedlam' - tucked away in the back of the entertainment tent, pale golden ale. 5.9%
Magic Rock 'High Wire' - American IPA style beer, great finish, long on the hops! 5.5%
Maypole 'Kiwi' IPA - One of the local brews but with Sauvin hops from Nelson, NZ. Really floral and with a citrus finish. 5%
Nottingham 'Knight's T'Ale' - A new one from the Nottingham Brewery, a traditional coppery bitter. 3.9%
Raw Pacific Ghost IPA - Another big, citrussy American style IPA, but made with NZ hops. 5.9%
Severn Vale 'Seven Sins' - Since we were waiting for Seven Little Sisters to come while chatting to Nigel who was engineering the sound this seemed the natural choice. Lovely dry stout - marked contrast to most of the big hoppy beers I went for but possibly all the more pleasant because of that. A SIBA champion. 5.2%
Springhead 'Roaring Meg' - Although I'd tried this before I wanted to have a beer that was pulled through a sparkler (Northerners eh?). A more traditional style pale ale, not so much of a hop monster, and rather mellow for a 5.5% brew.
Had I had more time I'd have sought out Thornbridge, Dark Star and Blue Monkey beers, but there's only so much you can get through, so maybe next time.
Cheers to Nottingham Camra!