The annual Bristol Beer Festival held at Brunel’s historic train shed at Temple Meads has become so popular that tickets for most sessions sell out very quickly. The 2013 festival held in March was the 16th organised by the local CAMRA Branch.
About 140 beers from around the UK and around 50 ciders and perries were available. Third pint measures were available to enable a variety to be sampled enjoyably.
The cooler months are when dark beers really appeal and most of my favourites were in this category. These included Concrete Cow, Cloven Hoof, a 4.5 ABV stout from Milton Keynes. Vanilla pods added a little sweetness. Dunham Massey’s Chocolate Cherry Mild from Cheshire (3.8% ABV) was dark and smooth with a hint of dry cherries and delicious. Continuing the darker theme was Dark Side of the Moose from the Purple Moose brewery in Gwynedd . This 4.6% ABV dark ale won the Strong Mild and Old Ales category at the Champion Winter Beer of Britain Competition in 2008.
I do like chocolatey beers and couldn’t resist Tyne Bank’s Mocha Milk Stout (6.0% ABV). Strong and sweet with flavours of chocolate, coffee and vanilla. However, my stand out beers were local brewery Butcombe’s Old Vic, a dark complex chocolatey porter at 4.7% ABV and Liverpool Organic’s Kitty Wilkinson Stout (4.5%). This chocolate and vanilla stout was amazing and possibly one of the best beers I have ever tasted.