Summer’s here, and the boozy festival season is upon us once again. We like a beer festival or two here at the BeerCast – recently CraigAS partook of some fascinating tipples at the 2008 Montreal Mondial de la biere, including a revelatory experience with a black IPA. You can also read his report on the 2007 equivalent here. Closer to home, in March Andy and myself paid a visit to the London Drinker Festival, and a few weeks after that our Edinburgh panellists sampled a few treats at the Wetherspoon’s Beer Festival. But the biggie for us is without doubt our local – the Scottish Beer Festival, held every summer at the Assembly Rooms just up the road. We went last year, and we’ll be there this time – from Thursday this week when it opens.
The lineup was announced this weekend – and features around 25 brewers from Scotland, many of them favourites to the BeerCast (although sadly the Arran Brewery will not be there). Ales in the lineup we’ve sampled during our podcasts include Belhaven St Andrews Ale (which scored 50%), Sinclair Orkney Dark Island (70%), Valhalla White Wife (63%), Caledonian Deuchars IPA (64%), Highland Orkney Blast (58%), and Traditional Scottish Ales’s William Wallace (err…). But there are plenty of beers we’ve never tried, and some we’ve never heard of – which is the primary reason for going to beer festivals (aside from the beard spotting).
Amongst the potential highlights are the ranges of beers supplied by BrewDog, who have six of theirs on offer (including The Physics and RipTide, both of which won gongs at the 2007 World Beer Awards), Cairngorm – who include the sublime Trade Winds in their nine-strong entrants, and local BeerCast faves Stewarts, with their balanced range of beers from Edinburgh Gold to Copper Cascade. Also onboard are quality outfits like Sulwath, Houston, and the Skye brewery. If you like a golden session ale or two, then there will be plenty on offer – Inveralmond’s Ossian, Black Isle’s Yellowhammer, Kelburn’s Goldihops and Atlas’s Nimbus are four to savour.
As for trying new things, well, I’ll be looking out for the Williams Bros rare porter Midnight Sun, plus timely seasonals from superb producers such as Harviestoun (Gold Rush), Cairngorm (Blessed Thistle), and Fyne Ales (Sommerled) – not to mention Highland Dark Munro, the reigning Champion Beer of Scotland, having won the title last year. Also completely new treats from the likes of Ayrshire’s Windie Goat, who started production in 2006, and beers I’ve not had the pleasure of sampling yet – such as Belhaven’s Herok and Howell’s single malt 70/-, Tryst’s Zetland Wheat Beer, and Highland’s Orkney IPA. I wonder what colour it is?
…and they even have beers for Andy – Caledonian Lemon Ale???
The festival is at Edinburgh’s Assembly Rooms on George Street, and opens Thursday 19th June (4pm-11pm), Friday 20th (12pm-11pm), and Saturday 21st (12pm-9pm). Entry is £4, or £3 for CAMRA members. If you see us there, come and say hello. We’ll be the group of men standing around drinking beer – you can’t miss us. Our review will be up sometime after the festival ends…