Friday, 14 June 2013

Great Welsh Beer and Cider Festival 2013: Friday

For once it was sunny, warm, and shorts weather on the trip into Cardiff for the GWBCF 2013.

After catching the lunchtime train in I waited for one of my friends to catch his (slow) train in. As he was delayed I moved myself into the Prince of Wales, a Weatherspoons pub, and ordered a Celt Experience Bledynn 1075. One of the Breweries that I was keen to visit once at the festival, this is their excellent IPA which I've had in bottle many a time, but this was the first time on cask and wow it was a palate stripping hopped up pint, superb and juicy. I could only hope the rest of the day's beers will be this good.

I pick up my glass, programme and tokens and head in. As much as I was eyeing up the specials on offer I thought sensible to start lower down the abv scale, and so picked on Brains 'Touch. Paws. Engage.' their rugby themed golden ale and 4%. Light, moderately fruity and refreshing citrus edge, very good start.
Always an impressive stand, the Otley boys and girls had an huge array of pumps, I went for the 'Hop Angeles' 4.8% an American Red ale which uses 9 different hops apparently. It had a nice light citrus aroma, with a dry woody strong bitterness in the mouth. I'd certainly seek this out again.
Next came a tick. One from the '300 beers...' book that I'd planned to get was the 'Oscar Wilde Mild' from Mighty Oak and I was glad I did. Bags of flavour, a great example of what a mild can be.

My good start continued as I moved onto the Tiny Rebel stand. A busy stand soon to get busier. Standing proud nearby was a pimped up old ice cream van in their colours.

Flux, a black IPA at 4% which was fantastic, juicy, citrus, roasted malts, another great beer from them.
The time then was just before 3 pm and it was the announcement for the Champion Beer of Wales results.
Okay, lets remind ourselves of my prediction in my previous post " will be interesting to see how many gongs they pick up. Champion Beer of Wales for Tiny Rebel?? I wouldn't be surprised."
 Well, no not very surprised, (perhaps at the clean sweep though) and yes feeling a little smug, but hey I called it!
Frankly though anyone drinking in the capital this last year probably is also not that surprised, such is the quality and consistency of the Tiny Rebel beers. A quick chat with Gaz and congratulations followed.
I also managed to publish my first post then on my mobile successfully, announcing the result (previous mobile attempts never worked).

 Violet Cottage were listed as a Cardiff brewery, one I'd never heard of, so i thought I'd try their 'Zigzag', a 5% IPA, which was nice and light, uncomplicated, a little lighter with the hops compared to others but as nice as many other IPA's out there and reminded me of Wye's HPA. When reading the programme a bit later i realised that they are from the award winning Gwaelod-y-Garth pub.
Back to one of the main stands now for one from Celt experience, 'Cat Scratched Celt' 5.8% a big amber ale, with nice strong malt backbone, caramel, pineapple from the hops, another great beer from Celt.
A side step takes me back to Otley and '09', a clear wheat beer I've not had before, lovely and light with orange and very spicy, 4.8%.
Redstone Brewery , based in Brecon Beacons only started last year, had just the one beer, 'Gorsey' 4.2%  a pale ale, lots of lemon and woody.
Brains Craft Brewery Low Hanging Fruit 4.8% - this was really good, 4.8% dark/mild?, on untappd I posted "Good dry earthy, sour aroma, a real lactic bitterness. Cherry lingers"
The only beer I didn't enjoy unfortunately was from Artisan, 'Alt' 5% although I cannot remember what was putting me off it but I didn't drink much off it.

Back to Brains Craft, and 'Stars and Stripes', an American wheat 5%, hazy, light and easy to drink quickly, citrus but not to bitter, fruity too.
I thought I'd go strong for my last beer and went for one of the Tiny Rebel specials, their 'Grand Regal Stout' this one aged in an 'Ardbeg Barrel' 7%.
My god, this was thick, chewy, so strong, like chewing a cigar. I couldn't finish it, wrong choice for the last beer of the night. Another night with this being the only beer in front of me I think I could give it more time but that night at that point it was palate overload. Not saying its a bad beer at all, my friend who enjoys whiskey liked it but agreed that it was a monster mouthful!
Thus I high-tailed back to the champions stand and got a 'Full Nelson' 4.8% with buckets of Nelson Sauvin hops, which refreshed my mouth immediately.

Overall this was one of the best GWBCF I've been to in recent years, a great range of beers from the headlining breweries, and all but one beer were thoroughly enjoyed which was a greater return for me than last few years. Loads more tables/chairs - excellent!
Many thanks to Arfur and the rest of the CAMRA guys for putting on a top show. I also managed to have a quick word with Arfur, although poorly timed as it was five minutes before the awards were announced, his steely focus on the stage as he wafted the results under my nose with a wry smile.

Main disappointment was not meeting Craig (top post btw) despite our girlish untappd posts pinging back and forward!
In sober hindsight I realised that 1 - telling him I'm by the winners stand was not making it easier, and 2 - me trying to spot a man just by identifying his beard at a CAMRA festival is like <insert cliché here> A real shame as I fancied a good chat, which is something, as he says in his post we'll have to sort out soon.

Full results:
Champion Beer of Wales 2013
1. Tiny Rebel Dirty Stop Out
2. Tiny Rebel Fubar
3. Tiny Rebel Urban IPA
Category Winners
Rhymney Dark
Purple Moose Madog's Ale
Best Bitter
Brain's Rev James
Strong Bitter
Tiny Rebel Urban IPA
Golden Ale
Tiny Rebel Fubar
Bullmastiff Welsh Black
Facers North Star Porter
Tiny Rebel Dirty Stop Out
Barley Wine
Tiny Rebel Hadouken
Old Ales/Strong Milds
Breconshire Ramblers Ruin

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