Saturday, 21 April 2012

Newcastle beer festival 2012

It's that time of year again - beer festival time.

This year saw Newcastle Beer Festival enter its 36th year as faces from the entire region's beer scene gathered together at Northumbria University Students' Union. Everyone from the the brewers to the pub landlords to the bloggers, brewlab students, organisers, CAMRA folk, beer geeks and all those just coming along for the crack, they were all there. To get things going as the sponsors and industry people had just arrived, focus was turned to the conclusions from regional battle of the beers competition. Here brewers were invited to enter a brew between 4-5%, brewed with only a single malt as the only fermentable, no restrictions on hops. Looking at the entries and brewers involved it was looking like it could be tough battle.

Here Mordue's Killswitch 51 would go head-to-head against creations from the likes of Jarrow, Tyne Bank and Allendale in a brutal showdown so epic that it could only be comparable to that battle at the end of the Transformers movie between Optimus Prime, Megatron and all the other ones.

However, in the end the winning beer came as a shock to many. Hadrian and Border's Grainger Ale just went to show that among all those Munich malts and crazy hops it was a simple pale session beer that really did the business. But at the end of the day it was interesting trying the various entries and finally getting to meet and chat to the likes of Tyne Bank Joe and Allendale Neil. It's cool to chat about brewing stuff almost endlessly with those in a similar position as oneself and it seems recently the region is turning out a new generation of interesting and talented brewers.

What I imagined Allendale Neil to look like, but he didn't.
("If you take the green hops, lovely Allendale Pale Ale will emerge, but if you take the blue hops... Well that's just weird") 
Moving on at that point I thought it was time to move to the other bar which had all the beers from outside the region and despite most peoples surge for the Summer Wine, Red Willow or Thornbridge I was more curious about something else.

Ed is an old Heriot Watt uni mate of mine. I remember once encouraging him to work with me somewhere in the North East. But when he said he wouldn't for the main reason that its full of northern monkeys it became obvious he would stay in the south east. Never before have I come across his beers from Old Dairy brewery so here's what I made of them.

Old Dairy Spring Top was a soft-natured, mid-golden session bitter with subtle bitter sweet citrus, subtle peppery hops and jammy malt. All in all quite pleasant, and the Blue Top IPA, another easy going affair dominated by caramelised creamy malt over pear and citrus and more citric bitterness in the finish. Arguably unchallenging for the style but I could happily sink a few of these in an evening.

That's a thumbs up from me Ed, and after this it was time to mingle some more and hunt out more beers. A few Mild ales were in order (especially for that time of day) and the Brew Star Sinistar was an intriguing and individual offering of slightly oily, grainy deliciousness. But at the end of the day one of the main highlights for me was seeing my very own creation/baby go to market for the first time.

Everytime I try Pandazilla I get something slightly different. Even though I've tried it at least a thousand times now right from early in the fermentor to from the handpull. I think I've just about got my head round it.

This beer was never designed to be like any other black IPA, and it isn't. It makes only a vague reference to the style. This beer is all about the Prunes, molasses, coffee, liquorice, mature fruit, orange pith and whatever else you derive from it. The complex hopping regime mingles those six varieties into the finish. It comes in waves, one moment its doing one thing, something else the next. It's big yet at the same time integrated in a sort of layer upon layer upon layer upon layer upon layer of subtlety that on a whole doesn't smack you round the face like a Diablo, or a Ruination or Nuclear Penguin. It's almost like picking out the notes from a Michael Angelo Batio guitar solo. Often the first response is 'what the fuck happened there!'. Some are instantly drawn and intrigued into the whole Pandazilla experience, whereas others find it just oddball. Watching the reactions of those trying it is entertaining enough, especially from the brewers.

Even the bloke from Alnwic'ks new bar 3 Wise Monkeys thought it was propper bo.
I remember beer writer Randy Mosher once explaining how tasting a craft beer can be a bit like delving into the very soul and thought processes of the brewer from its creation. Pandazilla is a beer that reflects upon the more crazy egotistical side of my personality. Like me its completely nuts, complicated, takes a while to get your head round, yet friendly and approachable at the same time.

Mordue's Dave, AKA the wing man

The Mordue office crew. To the crew at Daleside brewery reading this, I'm not bragging here but but make note, zoom in and admire.  
So all in all it was a great day out. Lots of familiar faces and lots of new people to meet. Plenty of great beer and some decent scran for later on when things got a bit more blurry. From what I hear Pandazilla, Killswitch 51 and many other beers sold fairly quick. So for now we will have to say same time next year.


pedrodedgud said...

You know what, i've been going to the newcastle beer fest now every year since the 5th one way back to those early days at the guildhall on the quayside, and i can honestly say that i absolutely hate going to this new venue, it has to be the worst place ever.This year i made a token visit on wed just to get my glass.Sorry but i'm being honest.

Ed said...

I would like to make it clear that I have nothing against people from the north. In fact some of my best friends are northern monkeys!

Rob said...

pedrodedgun - I took a while to get my head round the change of venue but all in all am not that bothered. The fact you have more space I find a bonus.

Ed - Fully understood.

Anonymous said...

Hey there! This post couldn't be written any better! Reading this post reminds me of my good old room mate! He always kept talking about this. I will forward this post to him. Fairly certain he will have a good read. Many thanks for sharing!

my webpage ::

Anonymous said...

I believe that is among the most vital info for me. And i'm happy studying your article. But want to observation on some general things, The site style is wonderful, the articles is in point of fact great : D. Good task, cheers

my weblog :: Wholesale Jerseys

Anonymous said...

Everyone loves it when individuals come together
and share views. Great website, continue the good work!

my blog post :: nfl jerseys cheap

Anonymous said...

Hi friends, fastidious article and nice arguments
commented here, I am truly enjoying by these.

Also visit my webpage: Cheap Jerseys

Anonymous said...

I usually do not drop a bunch of comments, but i did some searching and
wound up here "Newcastle beer festival 2012".
And I actually do have some questions for you if it's allright. Could it be just me or does it look like a few of these responses appear as if they are left by brain dead people? :-P And, if you are posting at other social sites, I'd like to keep up with
everything fresh you have to post. Could you make a list
of all of your public sites like your linkedin profile, Facebook page or twitter feed?

my web blog;

Anonymous said...

We're a group of volunteers and starting a new scheme in our community. Your website offered us with valuable information to work on. You've done an
impressive job and our whole community will be grateful to you.

my weblog :: Louis Vuitton Outlet1

Anonymous said...

Hey There. I found your blog using msn. This is a really well written article.
I'll be sure to bookmark it and return to read more of your useful information. Thanks for the post. I will definitely comeback.

My website; Sac Louis Vuitton

Anonymous said...

Hi there, There's no doubt that your web site could be having web browser compatibility issues. When I look at your web site in Safari, it looks fine however, if opening in IE, it has some overlapping issues. I just wanted to give you a quick heads up! Besides that, wonderful website!

Review my weblog;

Anonymous said...

Good post. I will be experiencing a few of these issues as well.

My weblog - Montre Guess

Anonymous said...

These are truly wonderful ideas in about blogging. You have touched some
fastidious things here. Any way keep up wrinting.

Here is my web page; Chaussure De Foot Pas Cher

Anonymous said...

For most recent news you have to go to see internet and on web
I found this website as a most excellent site for hottest updates.

Take a look at my web site ... Louis Vuitton Outlet

Anonymous said...

Wonderful article! That is the type of information
that are supposed to be shared across the web. Disgrace
on Google for not positioning this post higher! Come on
over and seek advice from my web site .
Thank you =)

Feel free to visit my weblog :: Louis Vuitton Outlet

Anonymous said...

Sweet blog! I found it while searching on Yahoo News.
Do you have any suggestions on how to get
listed in Yahoo News? I've been trying for a while but I never seem to get there! Appreciate it

Also visit my webpage

Anonymous said...

Woah! I'm really loving the template/theme of this blog. It's simple, yet effective.
A lot of times it's hard to get that "perfect balance" between user friendliness and visual appearance. I must say you have done a amazing job with this. Also, the blog loads very fast for me on Opera. Superb Blog!

My web page; Louis Vuitton Purses

Anonymous said...

Oh my goodness! Incredible article dude! Many thanks, However I am going
through troubles with your RSS. I don't understand the reason why I can't join it.
Is there anyone else getting identical RSS issues? Anybody who knows the answer will you kindly respond?


my blog post: full article

Anonymous said...

Hey There. I found your weblog the usage of msn. That is an extremely neatly written article.
I will be sure to bookmark it and return to learn more of your
helpful info. Thank you for the post. I will certainly comeback.

Here is my page: Nike Blazers for Men

Anonymous said...

If you desire to take much from this post then you have to
apply these strategies to your won website.

my web site; NFL Jerseys Cheap (

Anonymous said...

Heya i'm for the first time here. I came across this board and I find It truly useful & it helped me out much. I hope to give something back and aid others like you aided me.

Here is my homepage: Louis Vuitton Bags Outlet

Anonymous said...

Hi there, its fastidious paragraph about media print,
we all understand media is a great source of information.

Take a look at my blog post Nike Air Max

Anonymous said...

Usually I do not read article on blogs, but I wish to say that this write-up very pressured
me to check out and do it! Your writing taste has been amazed me.
Thanks, quite nice post.

Have a look at my web-site ... Boutique Guess