15 November 2017

English spoken here

My third entry from Borefts 2017 concerns the breweries from the English speaking countries: England, Scotland, Ireland and the USA. Not that the beers had anything particular in common but I need to put some sort of order on this, however arbitrary.

It was Cloudwater's first outing to the festival and I expected them to be mobbed, in accordance with their current status at the top of the hype heap in British brewing. And yes there were queues but not really as big as I anticipated, given the size of the event and the profile of the clientele. On a mission to have a beer from every brewer exhibiting, I took my one from Cloudwater early on day two.

NW DIPA Galaxy was the beer in question, 9% ABV, murky of course, and smelling strongly of orange marmalade shred. The flavour is a mix of orange pith and spring onion -- quite harsh and acidic, though offset somewhat by the creamy texture. A faint burr of cardboard creeps in at the end. It's certainly big flavoured, and it hides the alcohol well, but there's a lack of finesse here, a certain roughness crying out to be polished. I wasn't getting back in line for another.

One stand to the right, and attracting almost as much attention, was our own Galway Bay Brewery. Their flower power festival special didn't involve hibiscus for once: Saison Phi was brewed with chamomile, fennel and rose petals. There's not much of the novelty about it, however. Instead you get a rock-solid classic saison, opening with juicy honeydew melon and then turning drier for a poppyseed savoury note, in addition to Belgian yeast spices. All done at just 5% ABV too. Pure quality, no messing.

Also playing the Greek letter game were Brew By Numbers who have a pilot series designated by π. π|10 was pouring here, a pear and ginger saison. I'm unconvinced about pear as a beer flavouring addition: it rarely seems to impart much. This one manages it, however, with a genuine juicy ripe pear sweetness balanced with a kick of fresh ginger. Beneath this is another rock-solid saison, bigger than Galway Bay's at 6% ABV and with a serious farmyard funk. Perhaps not much of a thirst-quencher but interesting, tasty, and not overwrought.

I also had a go of the Bermondsey brewery's coffee porter, 10|10. It's a dense black colour with a deep tan head, reflecting the ballsy 10% ABV. I was expecting something big and rounded but found it rather dry and quite acrid. There's lot of coffee in both the flavour and aroma, however it's all bitter burnt grounds instead of the lovely rich oils you get in better examples. A pass from me.

Weird Beard's strong stout was more enjoyable. They were alternating versions of Sadako imperial stout and it was the rum barrel one when I got to it. It certainly smells of dark rum though the flavour is more of a tiramisu, tempered but not dominated by dry roast. 9.5% ABV gives it a gut-sticking texture exuding belly-warming spirit vapours. Simplistic, perhaps, but it gets the job done.

Their festival special was also a stout, though only 4.2% ABV. Hippy Hating Hippie uses rose hips and cinnamon in the recipe and I had no idea what that would do. The end result is red-brown in colour and, amazingly, does not just taste of cinnamon. There's more of a black pepper quality, with just a faint floral sweetness behind. It is a little thin, but at a forgivable level as it's nicely easy drinking. Refreshing after a round of booze bombs.