White Gypsy has two new ones on draught, both close relations of existing bottled beers. Puck is a doppelbock, 7.5% ABV but fantastically light on its feet for all that. Sure, you get bourbon biscuits and brown sugar, but it totally avoids any heaviness or overpowering sweetness. Instead it has a wonderful lager cleanness that makes it easy drinking. If it's weight and/or heat you're after, Obelix fits the bill better. This strong blonde is all about the Belgian yeast flavours, presenting a reliable amount of banana-ish esters and bittersweet meadow flora.
The UK was well represented at the festival, including an entire bar of Welsh offerings. I enjoyed the lightly porterish chocolate-and-hops of Llangollen Welsh Black Bitter, and found Brecon's Three Beacons to be incredibly good value, serving up bags of fresh orange flavours at just 3% ABV.
I missed out on Black Paw's cask beers but caught up with the bottled version of their Archbishop's Ale later on in the cosy surrounds of the festival press room. My fellow
The last three English breweries were huddled together in one corner of the hall. Windsor & Eton flew the flag for cask down here, serving their famous Conqueror black IPA. There's some great use of Summit in here for a heavy dankness plus some more innocent sherbet notes, with the dark malts adding a mere touch of roast to the picture. Its big brother Conqueror 1075 was very different: all about the heavy liqueurishness, coffee upon port upon something sticky and chocolately for dessert. Luxurious. I was less convinced by Kohinoor a novelty IPA with extra India via the addition of jaggery, coriander and cardamom. The end result is a vaguely spicy marmalade effect which doesn't seem worth the effort that went into it.
Dave and Ann from Hardknott were back for a second year, bringing Dark Energy with them, an interestingly sour and fruity dark ale with blackcurrant elements against a light roast. Next to them were newcomers Redwell whose Pils was a shocking pale yellow and very thin. This allowed for some enjoyable crispness but there was a hint of vinegar about it too. I wouldn't be rushing back for it. Redwell IPA on keg was a much better proposition: screamingly fresh and oily Simcoe dank from a perfectly clear medium-orange body to add some semblance of balance. I'm on record as not the world's biggest fan of Simcoe, but when given free rein like this it really can be sublime.
Next up, what the continentals brought to the party.