The Port Street Beer House kicked off its American Beer Festival with a beer tasting event last night. Now I'm not much of a one for these things and Monday nights as we all know are reserved for Coronation Street, but Tyson, that inveterate socialite and attender of all things boozy, dragged me along.
The place was buzzing, filled not only with rheumy eyed old farts like me, but with sweet young things, the chicks all tattoos and attitude and the men all facial hair. A smattering of in betweens gave a fairly mixed crowd. CAMRA types were also there in abundance too, all to try out the kegged offerings supplied by James Clay and Vertical Drinks. American nibbles were provided, though corn bread is a taste I wouldn't want to acquire and judging by the left overs, not one that'll catch on here all that quickly. As always, there was an opportunity before festivities began to get some ale down our necks. Tyson and I both chose Dark Star Americam Pale, which was oddly sweet.
So to the first drink. This was Left Hand Brewing 400 Pound Monkey, described as a balanced English Style pale ale. Of course with American 2 row barley, the ubiquitous crystal malt, plus Munich malt and wheat, it certainly wasn't. OK there were some English hops in it, but the whole impression was one of sweet imbalance. None of our party particularly liked it. Next up was Great Divide Espresso Yeti Oak Aged Imperial Stout, a whopper at 9.5%. This was rather good, though it needed a swirl or two to get rid of the carbonic bite. Roasty, coffee and alcohol in a complex and demanding brew. It was very tasty, though the proffered sixth of a pint sample was probably enough. Sierra Nevada Stout followed which was a large step down after the Yeti. At 5.7% it seemed dull in comparison, but slipped down well enough. The final beer, to "oohs and ahs" from the assembled crowd was Sierra Nevada Torpedo on cask. Assertively hoppy, rather smooth, but with some sweetness from the dreaded crystal malt, it delivered great gusts of Magnums, Cascades and Citra and was pretty well liked by all.
The bar was then raided, with various brews being passed around, though I quickly settled on a beer that was neither American nor kegged. Cask Magic Rock Dark Arts, a stout,did it for me, with loads of lovely roast, liquorice and hop flavours combining to make a drink that was too lusciously drinkable for a 6% beer.
So all in all a good experience. The American beers were all fine, though some more likeable than others. In small quantities, the high carbonation didn't matter and all were surprisingly fresh tasting. Well done to Port St Beer House. It was a good do.
The festival is open to the public from today until all the beers have gone.And don't worry about the quality of the cask beers here. They are spot on.
A bit of a CV. Tandleman is a veteran beer lover, CAMRA Chairman and (local) activist, beer author, beer reviewer and pursuer of all things good in beer. He lives in the North West of England and London. Despite his CAMRA membership, he does not limit himself to cask conditioned beer, though he believes that cask conditioning, when done correctly and appropriately, brings a quality to beer that is hard to equal by any other kind of presentation. He is a strong supporter of Northern methods of beer dispense and avidly detests poorly presented beer and dislikes pasteurisation. He regularly visits Germany, has conducted corporate British and German beer tastings for CAMRA at the Great British Beer Festival where he has worked for years on Biere Sans Frontieres and was Deputy Organiser at CAMRA's very successful National Winter Ales Festival in 2009, 2010 and 2011. He admires good brewers wherever they are and has travelled extensively in pursuit of good beer to drink.
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