A lover of unreason, and an exile (beingjdc) wrote,
A lover of unreason, and an exile

Wild about Mild

Tasting notes from the 2013 Oxford Beer Festival

At which for all the duplicate barrels in the world, they had run out of festival glasses by the time I arrived, which suggests an underestimate of the number of people attending, or keeping them, or both. The whole thing may be going upmarket - the Cornish pastie seller was still there, but so were a company claiming to be the foremost consultants on pairing chocolate with alcohol - samples available.

Anyway, to business. Almost everything felt fizzier than usual this year - it may be the fashion.

Adkin of Wantage (Oxfordshire)
Alfred's Honey Mild, 3.2%
A nostalgic mild, with the smell of a woodland stream in autumn. Gently honeyed but dark and rich, easy drinking with a faint aftertaste of pipe ash. 8/10

Amber of Ripley (Derbyshire)
Chocolate Orange Stout, 4%
This does what it says on the tin - a nose in the glass feels exactly the same as unwrapping the chocolate orange from a Christmas stocking. Lighter though than the average stout, and less orange in the taste than the smell, but overall well balanced. 9/10

Buckingham of, er, Buckingham (Buckinghamshire, surprisingly)
Mild, 4%
Strong coffee smell and roast hazelnuts in the background of this ruby mild, another beer that feels like it may be announcing the approach of Christmas with a faint taste of chocolate and mince pie - a pleasure to drink but I can see it not being to everyone's taste. 8/10

Dark Star of Partridge Green (Sussex)
Art of Darkness, 3.5%
One of only two beers this year that I didn't find fizzier than I expected. I have nothing bad to say about it, nor anything particularly remarkable either - immediately after the Buckingham Mild it was hard to see it as much more than a darker, softer (though oddly more obviously alcoholic despite being weaker) version of that. 7/10

Dunham Massey of Greater Manchester (Disputed Territory)
Dunham Dark, 3.8%
A pure Pennine dark mild, whether you think Trafford is in Greater Manchester, Cheshire, or Lancashire. A smooth beer which would go well with, or at a push in, a Sunday roast. Unwelcome vague aftertaste of food but not enough to ruin the overall effect. 7/10

Five Points of Hackney (London)
Hook Island Red, 6%
No, which was a shame given I like red. Bucking the fizzy trend, smooth trending syrupy, and served at London prices (£3.90 a pint, well above the festival average). Roast flavours were sadly verging on burnt, which the official notes charitably rendered as 'peppery'. The wrong type of bitterness and little compensating character, with a faint hint of washing up liquid. On the plus side, not overpowering given the strength. 4/10

Vale of Brill (Buckinghamshire)
Gravitas, 4.8%
A real head on here, golden bordering on straw - a mix of flavours but hanging well together - floral bordering on fruity but with a dry finish. 7/10

Loose Cannon of Abingdon (Oxfordshire)
Abingdon Bridge, 4.1%
Finalist in the LocAle category and I can see why - a beer-lover's beer, the sort of thing people might set about describing as 'good session ale' if not forcibly prevented. Taking the place of Flagship from last year - and a bit less alcoholic, which is perhaps a relief. Metallic smell but pure bitter taste, tastes like about half of everything I've ever drunk at the Bree Louise. 8/10
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