It is spring again, and last night The Star at Folly Hall opened its doors to its Spring Beer Festival. This festival was slightly different to previous festivals - in fact that is wrong, it was very different to previous spring festivals, following the model used at the last Winter Festival with all the beer being available in the pub rather than in the outside marquee.
So did the change of venue work ? I spoke to several customers and opinion was split, but on a personal note I enjoyed it. The pub was busy but not over busy and it seemed more intimate - if you can use that word for a beer festival. There are 28 beers on offer on a bar set up in the corner of the pub, as usual, all cellar cooled and hand pulled. In addition there were the 10 beers on the pub bar and others available from the cellar for the die hard enthusiasts. Beer was competitively priced at £2.90 a pint on the festival bar, in real cash, rather than tokens, but sadly, no festival glasses were available for this event.
What of the beers though? I class myself as a fairly well travelled beer ticker, and I had only encountered 4 before, and out of the 28 beers 7 came from breweries new to me, I set to work on those first. Trinity from Wakefield are a very recent brewery, but their 'Belle Vue Blonde' was a decent beer of its style, as was Littleover 'Gold', both around the 4% mark. Stronger at 5% was Neptune 'Abyss Oatmeal Stout' I found this an excellent beer, and will certainly try another later in the week. Another coup was Howling Hops 'Pale Ale XX No1' another 5% offering and the first cask beer I had encountered from them. It was very well balanced and very moreish.
Plenty of other rare breweries were there too, with beers from Quirky, Elephant School, and Slaughterhouse on the bar, On the local front there were specials from Mallinsons (Carry On Crusin' - I wonder how they thought of that name !) and Briggs with the quad hopped 'Symphony No5'. In the interests of research, of course, I had to sample other beers too, and some impressed me more than others I must admit but all were in good condition. I must admit though that the two stars of the festival were both on the main pub bar and both were at the stronger end of the spectrum. Mallinsons 'Maverick' was stronger than their usual beers and was a dry hopped version of Spruce Goose (6.3%) ,it was superb. (and thankfully in a 9 gallon cask). The second stronger beer last night was Five Towns 'Alcazar' weighing in at a not inconsiderable 7.8%. This is only in a 4 1/2 gallon barrel so its a case of get it while you can ! It tasted it strength and the orange infusion in the beer gave it a totally different flavour to anything else available.
The festival runs through until Sunday (or until the beer runs out) with full day opening Friday, Saturday and Sunday. I know there are plenty of other festivals this weekend, but it is worth setting some time aside to call down and sample the beer on offer. As usual thanks must go to Sam and the team, Adam in particular, for making the festival so special, and if last night is anything to go by, a deserved success.