Friday was a memorable day,, not only for Royal Weddings, but probably more so because the Rat & Ratchet opened its doors for its long awaited mild, cider and perry festival.
We could not complain about a lack of choice, there were milds to satisfy every taste, from light to dark, from roasted to spearmint, and every other taste in between. There were 24 on offer, and all on handpull. Enough to keep me going for an hour or two. The problem was, where to start ?
I finally chose to kick off with a couple of Mallinsons. Their 'Special Dark Mild' and 'Mission Bell Mild' were both 3.8 %, a both typical milds, both easy drinking and a good start. I then wandered into the realms of the light milds with Ridgeside 'Mild & Dangerous'. Not to my taste at all.
Blue Monkey 'Blue Moon' was next on the list; stronger at 4.4% and with a bit of a strange aroma, maybe ginger or cinnamon but for some reason this did not transfer into the taste, which tasted a bit thin in my opinion. After hearing comments about the Roosters 'Spearmint Mild' I avoided this and tried the Saltaire 'Dark Matter'. Again 3.8% and again a bit tasteless for my liking, but this was soon corrected with Leyden 'Egg'. This was more like it, Leyden seems to be able to pack a lot of lot of flavour into a dark, weak beer and this did not disappoint.
The real stars of the show were both light milds though. Dunham Massey 'Light' was clean and refreshing and showed what can be achieved without making a beer of stupid strength. This was also true of the classic 'Trinity' from Redemption. Only 3.0% but full of fresh hop flavour, maybe to call it a mild might be stretching it a bit, a great beer for quaffing on a warm afternoon.
I am not a cider drinker so did not sample them, but I heard good things about several of them. The festival showed 18 different suppliers with some providing two or three, so should this be your thing then there is plenty of variety. Dave Kendall-Smith's 'Udders Orchard' provided a perry, a cider and a Whisky Cask cider, and there were two Rum Cask ciders to whet your appetite as well.
A good festival, well attended, and a credit to Rob and the team. Give it a go.