The first late-night shopping session of the season tonight and lots of people in the Red Elephant Beer Cellar where I work — sorry, that should read have a ball — selling and talking about beer to lovely, lovely customers. They assume I must have tried all the beers, but some of the brews I only know as recommendations. Still, the recommendations seem popular and folk keep coming back.


safest1113One of the bars at the St Austell Brewery Celtic Beer Festival

I must take more of the stock home with me for, er, research, but this week there has been plenty of other beer to be getting on, not least during the brewers’ preview evening for the St Austell Brewery Celtic Beer Festival on Friday. I know, I know, I’m not a brewer (never even been invited to do a collaboration), but Roger Ryman’s team were kind enough to offer me a ticket and it would have been ridiculously rude to refuse.

The cellars of the brewery make an excellent atmospheric beer festival venue and the beers were pretty uniformly of a high standard. There was only one I asked to be discreetly disposed of. I had to have a glass of Mo-Teezer, a tasty malt-led best bitter created by two of the St Austell brewery team to help with the Movember fundraising effort. Find out more about it here. Other St Austell highlights were Tamar Creek (7.5% ABV), a version of a kriek made with Cornish cherries, which impressed me hugely, even though I’m not the world’s biggest cherry fan, and Big Willy IPA, an American style double IPA at 8.3%, because, well, I love big IPAs.

Away from the St Austell ‘home team’ I was delighted by Driftwood Spars’ Lewsey Lou No 2, the second in a number of trial brews being developed by brewer Peter martin to compliment fish. This one has luscious, big hop flavours, citrus and grassy notes, and a beautiful deep golden colour. I’m told No 3 is imminent. Lewsey Lou’s is a bugh-quality fish and chip shop take-away in St Agnes, a joint venture between former rugby international Josh Lewsey and Driftwood Spars owner Louise Treseder. See what they’ve done there?

Away from the festival line-up, a dark and a light beer have caught my attention in the Star this week. Ossett Treacle Stout (5%) was, in fact, a rich, creamy, smooth stout, with lactose notes like a milk stout, with the titular treacle flavour moving on the finish. I’ve been a big Ossett fan for  while now and this was very enjoyable.

And then another big IPA, this time Hawkshead 7% IPA. Very fine indeed. Heaps of hops on the aroma of this light amber, white headed brew. Apricot notes dominate with some biscuity malt in the background. In a tightly contested field, my beer of the week.

Speaking of big IPAs, those Stone, Tiny Rebel, Summer Wine and Odell bottles are looking at me from the shelves in the shop. Watch this space…

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