It was friday, it was wales, it was raining.
No, actually it was belting it down in the morning to be honest, thankfully it lightened as the day wore on.
Whilst the easy transport links into Cardiff reminded me why i should go in there more often, the drunks screaming at each other in the street at 11am as i bought some lunch reminded me why i dont.
Anyway onto the CIA for the Great Welsh Beer and Cider Festival 2011.
wasn't going to miss it again !5.5%, small head on a dark copper medium body. Light fresh spice, orange, light sweetness. Nice start to the day.
With all the talk of Black IPA's across many beer blogs and none to be seen in South Wales i stuck to the Otley bar and tried their Oxymoron.
Black IPA, also 5.5% abv, pretty black (duh!) in colour. Noticeably mostly to me for a pine aftertaste, its also got coffee and a dominating citrus twang i couldn't put a name to. Must admit i wasn't initially sold on the black ipa style on this first try.
Another beer that i had pegged to try was the recent award winning Hopback Entire Stout. I thought it a little thin though, all be it with good coffee, chocolate bitterness. Okay, not bad, expected a bit more for a champion winter beer though somehow.
Red Kite brewery are very new, based in Carmarthenshire,West Wales, with a range of five beers, they had three i could see here. I tried the 'Gold Wing' a 4.2% golden ale, it was light and crisp, with a good drying bitterness, again citrus hop came through.
Another new brewery and definitely the closest to where i live is the new Llantrisant brewery, i believe its based in the Wheatsheaf pub in the town. 'Black Army Stout' is their first beer i was told, 3.9% abv. Thin in the mouth, no head really, light malts with hedgerow berries coming through well, possibly blackberry? It seemed more like a porter in style, it was okay, although for your first brew its encouraging to see them produce something different rather than a safe bitter.
I've never ventured over to the German bar at any of the festivals before but thought it was time to make the effort. Karg are not a brewery i'd heard of, so i plumped for their 5.0% Weissbier Dunkel. A gloomy looking wheat beer, dirty toffee in colour, it was sharp, green apple sour, banana and bready. Was it supposed to be like this?? Not totally unpleasant but unexpected and one i wouldn't try again.
Heart of Wales brewery - Aur Cymru - a golden ale, its was quite dry, woody, medicinal and a little flat, didn't seem in the best condition.
By now the Champion Beer of Wales 2011 had been announced, going to Rhymney for their 'Dark', which i'll agree is certainly their best beer. Congratulations to them, they also took silver with 'Export' , and Otley took bronze for 08, a previous winner itself.
At this point i wandered for a bit trying to decide which to have next, one of the volunteers tried to sell me the Thornbridge Jaipur but i instead went for the 'Sequoia' which was not in the programme, (seemingly replacing their 'Lord Marples' which was supposed to be there but i couldn't spot it).
Really good, hit the spot immediately. Biscuity, nutty, light brown in colour, nice and hoppy but not out of balance with the malts. Certainly my beer of the night.
Brains had the usual bar on display, a great photo here by Beer Lens, and they had produced exclusively their 'Strong Ale' for the festival. 6.5%, it was less alcohol more sweetness, lightly spiced, fruity. A half was more than enough at the end of night.
Great festival, well done to all those involved.