BEER has been a familiar part of our lives long before the written word surfaced.
In fact, earliest archaeological evidence shows remains of beer making more than 7,000 years ago, beer arrived before bread and there is reference to Noah’s provisions on the Ark including beer.
Now more than 200 billion pints are produced per year, some of which were available to sample at the 2013 Weymouth Beer Festival.
We have come a long way yet some of the early mysticism associated with beer still remains with a wonderfully colourful collection of names for a variety brews, more than 60 of which were on offer at the festival in the Pavilion Ocean Room.
Organised by the West Dorset branch of the Campaign for Real Ale, the festival delighted with taste and entertained with its labels.
Where else but at a beer festival could you find Goats Leap vying with Dragons Breath and Buzzard and Raven getting in a flap with Avocet and Golden Chough?
There is a sort of inevitability that Detonator Pale would be rubbing shoulders with Danish Dynamite and that where you’ve got a Rusty Boiler you are bound to have a Funnel Blower.
There was plenty of space to keep Noah busy with everything from Mole Catcher and Otter to a Devonshire Piglet while architects could quaff to their heart’s content on the likes of Castle Gold and Old Barn.
Yes, the festival forecast had some wonderful indoor weather from Summer Lightning to Black Hole and Tornado while a variety of professions offered liquid temptation from Pesky Pirate Porter to Sheppard’s Crook and the Reverend Hawkers.
The only problem with all this largess was where to start first. Fortunately many previous festivals had given me a simple approach to tasting.
If the experts have set the festival up then go to them first and ask what their favourites are and try them.
Next follow your own particular taste – mine is porters and ruby ales – and check out what is on offer before doing a few spot tastes on what is left. Finally tackle the ciders because they will definitely tackle you!
It is terrible to be ruinated early on, but a nice glass or two of cider at the end of the session goes a long way to somehow sorting impressions out and clearing the palate. Who knows. It may even allow you to go back and try a few more fresh beers or revisit a favourite.
Whatever you do, get a decent snack on board to help soak it all up a bit because an empty stomach is the last thing you want to take to a beer festival. Fortunately the venue also had everything from fresh loaves, pasties and sausage rolls to burger and chips
Believe it or not, the organisers are already making plans for next year now that they have secured their venue at the Pavilion which is good news for beer drinkers and good news for the Pavilion.