Didsbury Beer Festival 2014
Stepping into the seventh annual Didsbury beer festival was a welcome slap in the face. We were transported from the cold autumn night to a warm and buzzing marquee with casks and kegs of beer stretching out as far as the eye could see. We went on a Thursday (there was a free drink involved) so although the festival was busy, there was enough room to sip your half without elbowing the next man in the eyeball. We must admit, the first (free) drink was a gamble. With such a huge selection of beer from the North West and beyond, choosing was not easy. However, with that down we soon slipped into the swing of things. The salubrious atmosphere was catching, and the knowledge and helpfulness of the volunteers made working our way down the never-ending bar effortless. We would have liked to have sampled all the beers available, but to do so would probably have ended with us being violently sick. With that in mind, we present our selections from the range of beers at the festival.
1872 Porter 6.5% abv – Elland Brewery
Elland is a multi-award winning brewery from the market town for which it is named, in West Yorkshire. This beer won CAMRA champion beer of the year 2013, and we can see why. A rich and intense dark beer, it hits you with an intense coffee taste tinged with chocolate, followed by a roasted, vinous finish. This beer sticks to your gums – in a pleasant way. A real, old fashioned porter from an 1872 recipe which puts Guinness to shame.
Strawberry Blonde 4.5% abv – Nook Brewhouse
A family run pub for over forty years, the nook entered the brewing world in 2009. Strawberry blonde is a golden, good looking beer. It is sweet, but not cloying, and readily able to refresh. The taste of strawberries, not artificial or overwhelming, fills your mouth first. Next comes a satisfying malty biscuit aftertaste, reminding us of strawberry cheesecake.
Chocolate Cherry Mild 3.8% abv – Dunham Massey Brewing Company
Located in the national trust land town of Dunham Massey, this family run brewery make typical north western real ale. Their cherry mild is a weird beer, but we liked it. Dark with a surprisingly low body, chocolate is definitely present, cut through with a real hit of sweet fruit. There’s definitely nothing natural about that particular flavour, but that’s the synthetic cherry of childhood sweets. The haribo fizzy cherry flavour married to beer is an interesting experiment, and one we think works.
Ysgawen 4% abv and Dark Side of the Moose 4.6% abv – Purple Moose Brewery
Purple moose, or Bragdy Mws Piwse, are a microbrewery from the other side of Snowdonia. These welsh imports to the festival stole the show for us. The Ysgawen is superbly drinkable pale ale, golden and crisp with those lovely floral flavours from cascade hops and a hint of elderflower. Another one of their offerings is Dark side of the moose. It’s darker, maltier and richer, with toffee/caramel on the nose and welcome bitterness to finish. Two beers we would love to see again in Manchester.