It was a rare opportunity at the festival, to have two of the editorial team together, so we could sample even more of the beers on offer than usual. I did not, despite Mr Ambler's assertion, suggest which beers he should drink. I knew what he would be concentrating on, it just gave me a chance to sample some of those beers from breweries I had encountered in my brief sojourn in the North East.
If you have had chance to peruse the beer list then you will have noted a selection of beers from there, and others from Scotland. Plenty of them from new or unusual breweries - and a coup for Sam to get them all together under one canvas. Unusually for me I eschewed the Mallys as my first beer and headed for the Leazes Park Lite brewed at the Trent House pub in the shadow of Newcastle's St James's Park, and rarely seen outside the pub,let alone the North East. It was a 3.7% brownish ale, but plenty of flavour and not oversweet. Coquetdale were another rare brewery, this one from Rothbury, and two of their beers were on the bar. I sampled the 'Simonside Blonde' - it was blonde, obviously, and very drinkable. I nearly had a second but there were many more ticks to try so it will have to wait for later.
I thought it was time to head even further north and have a try of some of the Scottish beers on offer. Tin Pot 'Gold Pot' was a bit of a disappointment and tasted a little weird. The Abbott brewery was new to me, and their 'Pot Stirrer' was a 4.2% typically Scottish beer, with a good malty background, tasting a bit like Youngers No3 (for those old enough to remember). Next came Cromarty 'Happy Chappy', an acceptable, pale beer . But my pick of the Scottish beers I tried was 'Vienna' from Pilot, a beer brewed in the lager style and full of flavour. I followed this with a Portobello beer, from London, not Scotland. Their 'White' was a wheat beer and a very well crafted one at that.
All in all, if you want to try something a little different then take a look outside the usual suspects and hunt out the beers from the north, you may well be surprised.