World Beers Festival – Stockport – 28/03/2014

“Everyone I’ve loved, kept me tangled in my heart,

You’ll tie that knot bit too loose, not enough to tease apart, come on.

Everyone I hold, holds me strangled sweet and small,

I’m not a puppy you’ll take home, don’t bother trying to fix my heart.”

(“French Exit” – The Antlers)

I do love a touch of melancholy in my tuneage now and again, but when I first heard the above track on The Antlers’ album “Burst Apart” it blew me away. Simply beautiful. From the staccato guitar line that opens the track through beautiful melodies to the crescendo ending, it’s like musical catnip to my ears and is quite possibly my favourite track of the last 10 years. I wish I could explain why, but it just is.

The album starts with “I Don’t Want Love” and introduces Pete Silberman’s falsetto voice, which just works so well. A corker of an album goes onward through “French Exit” & “Parentheses” (incidentally, covered by Tricky – rather well) this is another excellent US guitar-led indie (I HATE the word!) album, something I find sadly missing in the UK. Another discovered via EMusic. Now, what was I meant to be doing…..I really AM that forgetful you know!

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(With Marty Feldman smiling down on me, what could possibly go wrong?)

Now then, where were we? Ah, me and my memory!

Some time ago, I received a pair of free tickets for each night of a new beer festival to be held in Stockport. Quite surprised to be given them to be fair, but grateful, for 2 reasons…..

a) I love a beer fest! And…

b) I’m kind of….sort of….in the early stages of planning one myself for later in the year, to raise money for a very good cause.

So, last Friday (the first day of said Festival) I raced back from work to get showered and changed and get back into Manchester to meet the Arch-Nemesis and catch a train to Stockport…Now, where was I? Ah yes, my memory!

Just before the bus turned into Piccadilly, where the A-N was waiting thirstily……On Shit! Where are those damned tickets???? I really am such a ****wit! I had to face a thirsty and ticketless Nemesis, who had already bought train tickets!!! A quick call to my youngest, who located the beasties and snapped a piccie to show the organisers…..worth a try eh?

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With two fine security chaps on the front door, I confessed my abject ****wittery. With a chuckle that was nearly as broad as his shoulders, he pointed me towards one of the organisers who was in a …debate…with some irate customers. Listening in, Christian, (said Organiser) sounded utterly reasonable, but was confounded by the rather skewed logic and arithmetic of the 3 malcontents. (THEY were wrong…in SO many ways!)

Anyway, as he listened to my (ahem) problem, he smiled and let me in!

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Having started at 5 (we arrived at 6:15), it was getting reasonably busy, but, spying two familiar barmen (and a gap at said bar) we dived in!

James and Paul Stockport World Beers

(l to r Paul & James – pic courtesy of Felicity McCartney)

Ah, James & Paul (Deeply Vale & Ringway Breweries respectively), two fine fellows with a big job to do. Slake my thirst! Now then. I had to – at this point – confess to Paul that I had never tasted Ringway beers and that I needed to right this wrong! That I did with Ringway IPA. A 4.6% abv amber coloured beer with a really hedgerow-fruity nose. Medium-bodied and really fruity, this had a lovely bitterness to it and quite a haystack grassyness to the finish. A cracking introduction to this British hopped IPA (First Gold & Challenger)

The Nemesis went for Paul’s “Wor Stout” and gave me the wink. No further hint needed!

Ringway– Wor Stout A 4.3% abv black beauty with “a bit of everything” in it! Milk choc and roasty aroma, more chocolate and barley roast in the full-body and the merest hint of lactose to give it that gentle sourness – almost, but not quite, a Milk Stout – It couldn’t be more up my street! A beauty.

Paul is a top bloke to natter with and (just like at the Manchester Beer Fest) he had me in stitches in minutes, he and James come as a bit of a double act and we chatted for quite a while – or, at least until this got busier. Which it did!

A little look along the keg lines led to something that intrigued me enough to have a slurp (having heard Paddy, Kev & Shaun wax about it)…

Keg fonts World Beers Fest

(pic courtesy of Felicity McCartney)

Red HookLonghammer IPA 5.9% abv – Golden, bright , fresh & zippy IPA lots of citrus in the nose, more in the mouth balanced against a substantial malty body, really refreshing and totally enjoyed this, which surprised me.

Small & Mighty by Happy Valley – 3.6% abv – A golden pale beer, fresh and refreshing with some light citrus on the nose, a nice and fruity bitterness with some late arriving gentle resinous hops following through in the afters. Nice. Not had much from Happy Valley, will keep an eye out.

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The room was filling up and getting really busy, so, with a Citra Storm from Deeply Vale in hand, we retreated to the second room for a seat, shortly to be joined by a bunch of blokes from Bury. A cracking chat lubricated by excellent beer. This is what this drinking is all about!

Citra StormDeeply Vale Pale golden at 4% abv, nice grapefruit citrus nose, refreshing and light with plenty of tart grapefruit balanced on a light malt base. Resinous aftertaste following a gently bitter finish. Tasty & refreshing beer!

The final beer for me here was again on keg and was the Blonde by Brugge Zot. A nice golden Belgian, reminiscent of a lighter Duvel for me, yeasty funk and spice with gentle hopping and tasted scarily lighter than its 6% abv!

To sum the festival up? A great idea and, due to it being a first stab, they went small and will probably expand markedly next year. But all the elements were in place. Cask (although only 3 – admittedly local – breweries) keg from the UK, Germany, Czech, Belgium & the US and bottles. All quality and very reasonably priced too at £2 for 1/2 pint for most keg stuff (if not all). They sold most of their tickets, hence why it was SO busy.

Will either need a larger venue next time, or to locate some bars in the second room. But a damn fine effort! (A reminder to pitch mine small)

Moving on, I fancied a swiftie before the train. So we popped in Ye Olde Vic (Chatham Street – the other side of the train station).

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A quirky old pub that I’d only been in once before, after 2013’s Stockport Fest. A good selection as last time. But I only had eyes for one beer…

CentennialMallinsons Brewery 3.9% abv – Crystal clear golden beer with hints of gooseberry on the nose. Nice, refreshingly tart , fruity and bitter clean tasting beer. The same quality I have come to expect from this Huddersfield brewery. Absolute Quality.

Back to Manchester for a swift and unremarkable pint in the Waterhouse, prior to harnessing the chariot.

On that note….’til next time…

Slainte!

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