There’s an age-old tradition in my old local newspaper game of starting stories about summer events with the words: “Rain failed to dampen the spirits of visitors to…” This could be said about Verdant Brewing Co’s Little Summer Beer Bash yesterday. But not only did the frequent heavy showers fail to dampen our spirits, we just didn’t bloody care.
Billed as Cornwall’s first craft beer festival, this is now set to become an annual event, according to co-organiser Pete Walker, with his Alcohology wholesale business hat on. Great to hear that because this was such a fantastic day. Not only were there brewery bars featuring names we rarely see in Cornwall – such as Ilkley, Wylam and Odyssey – but the bars were staffed by the people behind the beers, some brewers, some other staff, but all extremely knowledgeable about their wares. Meet the brewer en masse.
It was good, for instance, to meet a legend such as North Bar founder John Gyngell, offering beers from the company’s brewery, North Brew Co. Blood orange and rhubarb sour, Volta, was a revelation in offering good tart flavours without making one pucker up like a bullbog swallowing a wasp. But star of this brewery stand for me was the delicious #NB20 (7% ABV), an IPA made in collaboration with Dry and Bitter, from Denmark, who recently had a successful tap takeover at Pete Walker’s HAND bar, in Falmouth. Tropical, citrus and pithy fruit notes, with building bitterness on the finish, this beer celebrates the 20th anniversary of the North Bar (where Pete once worked) and is part of the #HopsNotHate project, with 50% of the brews profits going to the brewer’s chosen charity, in this case St Gemma’s Hospice, in Leeds.
Being a sentimental old fool, I’ll highlight two breweries from my old part of the world, Hampshire. Good to meet the enthusiastic Kevin Robinson, proprietor and brewer at Vibrant Forest, in Lymington. Indeed, I started the day with his Kaleidoscope IPA, at a gentle 6.5% ABV, which had big stone fruit and tropical fruit notes, hazy, of course, and brilliantly refreshing, for though there was plenty of rain, we were warm enough to need a good thirst quencher (especially after the walk through the woods to Verdant from the railway halt).
Then from Southampton, Unity Brewing, who have a portfolio of mostly Belgian-influenced brews, passed over a half of their Congregate table beer (4.2%), which has a good hoppy bite, as well as decent balance from a malt bill that includes one of my favourites, Vienna. Really nicely done, with the yeast offering an interesting spicy edge.
The good news for Cornish beer aficionados is that the inaugural Cornwall Craft Beer Festival is being staged at Old County Hall, Truro, from November 9-12. To find out more about this venture, visit the Facebook page