Sue Choularton visits Wandsworth Common Beer Festival
It was impossible to sample all the 50-odd real ales on offer at last night's Wandsworth Common Beer Festival, but it was surprisingly easy to make an attempt, with the ambient surroundings helping the beer go down.
Organisers of the festival, which runs until the afternoon of Sunday March 28, helped drinkers on the way with clever 'Beer Ladders', which grouped together ales of different styles.
You can chose from the following Beer Ladders - Dark Beer, Golden Beer, Rugby Beer, Strong Beer, or you can make your own. Each starts with a beer in the weaker range, and they get stronger as you climb up the ladder through the night!
I opted for the Golder Been ladder and started with a half pint of Lymestone Brewery's Stone Cutter, which was a 3.7% citrusy tasting beer that I could otherwise have drunk all night. But then it was onto the 3.8% Ginger Tosser, all the way from Skinner's Brewery in Truro. As the name suggested, it had a hint of ginger and was slightly darker than the Stone Cutter.
Tring Brewery's Tring Blonde was next on my list - another easy-drinking beer. Scottish beers are usually my favourite, so I was tempted to deviate from the beer ladder and opted next for Equinox (4.5%) from the Atlas Brewery in Argyll, and, with its floral taste, I wasn't disappointed.
By now, I was creating my own beer ladder and it was time to go for something a bit stronger. Yankee Pale Ale (5%) from Wigan's Allgates Brewery was described in the festival's tasting notes as "another MUST TRY". It uses specially imported yeast for America and was certainly worth the effort.
I wanted to go back to the citrusy theme, and the 5.1% Imperium from the Empire Brewery of Huddersfield caught my eye. It had a grapefruit taste to it, which made it very distinctive. I finished my festival off with a local brew - the 4.4% Naked Ladies ale from Twickenham Fine Ales. It can be a bit embarrassing for women to order, but by that stage I wasn't too worried, and it was an excellent way to end the evening.
Frequent beer festival goers will find this one a bit more relaxing than some, and I had a seat in the main bar all evening. The beer is sold under a marquee in the courtyard off the Le Gothique bar, and the surroundings of the Royal Victoria Patriotic Building definitely add to the overall enjoyment of the evening.
This was the third Le Gothique festival I've attended, and it seems to get more popular each time. Although I'm not a cider drinker, they also had 10 real ciders on offer (complete with a message for the Prime Minister on the recent increase in cider duty!).
There's also live music on Friday and Saturday evenings, and the festival wraps up at 4pm on Sunday. I hope the organisers have enough beer left by then! Beer prices start from £2.80 a pint and there's a £2 entrance fee (£1 for CAMRA members).
You can print off your own beer ladder here - http://www.beerviking.com/2010/03/more-official-beer-ladders-wandsworth-common-beer-festival. For further information on the festival see this link: http://www.beerviking.com/wcbf/
March 26, 2010