Stockport Beer and Cider Festival
It has been a long time since we posted anything at all on this website. This is not due to a lack of enthusiasm, or an absence of anything to write about. Rather, our University commitments finally caught up with us. We are three final year Biology students at The University of Manchester, which does actually demand a degree of hard work and at times to put the beer down.
Some amazing beery things have happened in Manchester during the exam period. New and exciting breweries have burst onto the scene, innumerable festivals have risen and fallen, lots of beer was made and talked about. We have watched, forlorn and jealous, from behind a wall of books. This Friday, at long last, the exams came to a close, and as free men we got right to the business of drinking ale. What better way to celebrate than the 2015 Stockport Beer and Cider Festival?
This is apparently the 29th year of this CAMRA festival, held in Stockport County FC’s grounds at Edgeley Park. When we saw how well-oiled and well organised the event was, the advanced age doesn’t seem too much of a surprise. Maybe it’s the uniformity of CAMRA festivals that make them so easy to navigate. Yes, I’d like a programme, no; I don’t want to buy an oversized drinking horn. This is one of the more summery festivals, so despite some slight cold we drunk outside and were glad of it. Sitting in the stands and watching the sun set over Stockport with a pint of Cloudwater Spring Pale was a peaceful, almost exquisite experience. Beer festivals in sports venues do really seem to work.
Of the 200 beers being dispensed, we spotted some of our favourite brews from Marble, Buxton, and Northern Monk, as well as an elective contingent from Stockport beer rebels Quantum. Most excitingly, the ‘Beer Noveau’ bar downstairs had some brews available for the first time at the festival. We drank a lot, with a renewed thirst for well hopped liquid. Here are the beers that stood out from the rest.
Quantum breweries Dry Hopped Berliner Weisse had a lovely quenching and tart character. It is great to see sour German beer being made in Stockport. As much as we loved it , we also felt this beer would have tasted better a little colder and spikier – we hope to catch it on keg someday soon. Another big shout out to their Sorachi ace Stout – it’s got a surprising amazing creaminess and rich chocolatey undertones. The slightly puzzling hop character comes through first, and then it’ll all mellow malty goodness.
The Hawaii Saison from Offbeat brewery was our most drunk beer of the festival. On the nose, it’s wild, phenolic, pure Belgium. The tropical flavours aren’t as rich as you’d think from the name, but the warm sweet spiciness is evident. Maybe it’s a Hawaii Saison because you feel like your bathing in the sunshine. We wanted to drink a barrel of this.
On the lookout for summery drinks, Tatton Breweries Lazy Haze won our hearts quite by accident. These traditional Cheshire brewers have impressed us in the past with their quality beer. Lazy haze is a golden summer ale with honey and peach iced tea undertones. It runs down the throat like nectar and transports you to distant oases. If you are ever sitting in a beer garden over the next few months, this is the beer for you.
It shouldn’t surprise anyone who reads this blog (hello Mum) that we are cheery beery people. Mostly, we write about things we like rather than things we don’t. This, combined with how long this particular festival has been running makes criticism seem a little out of place. However, maybe a festival that’s approaching its 30th anniversary may have got a little stuck in a routine through the years.
There were 16 IPAs available, which isn’t surprising. It’s a popular beer style (this might be an understatement) which many breweries like to have a go at putting their own spin on. Strangely, rather than label them as such, the festival organisers decided instead to ignore the existence of the India Pale Ale and lump them either into ‘Bitter’ or ‘Strong or Old Ale’ depending on the ABV. Mild, a vastly less popular style, got its own rank and colour with an equal number of varieties available.
Obviously, CAMRA has a real motive to promote and preserve historic and declining beer styles, which is arguably a good thing. However, it seems nonsensical to deny the facts of what people are actually drinking. And to call Blackjacks Single hop Azaca IPA a Bitter is pure denial.
There were definitely some other beers we drunk, but it all got a little bit fuzzy after a while. There was a strong IPA from Landlocked brewery, which stood out above the rest with its nose assaulting fruitiness. Final shout out to the festival goers who had a bit of a run on the pitch just after last orders. It was a good bit of entertainment to end the evening with, watching you being marched out. We had a great time , cheers Stockport