5th CAMRA Gloucester Beer & Cider Festival – Blackfriars Priory.

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Amidst the background buzz of the conversation of friends and fellow beer and cider enthusiasts alike, the names of quality craft ale and ciders from great small producers punctuated the hubbub like little siren calls in the glorious afternoon sunshine. These sirens shouts popped out of the hum filling the square and rooms of the festival like echoes as those lucky people drinking great craft ale and cider mulled over the taste and colour of the cup presently under consumption.

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Ready to go at Blackfriars Priory.

There cannot be a grander, more historic place to hold a festival to celebrate the great taste of craft beers and cider. Where once the harmonic utterings of Dominican friars echoed around the ancient quadrangle – now lovers of beer and cider, studied the form of the festival card. Some with a plan of just which beers they hoped to sample in half or third measures and some with a more randomised approach.

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Runners and Riders. 5th CAMRA Gloucester Beer and Cider Festival, Blackfriars Priory.

Good beer and good conversation are made for each other. Beers were sipped and sampled, occasionally exchanged for taste, held skyward for  comparison of their amber hues now illuminated in the bright blue of the glorious city centre Friday. The combination of the buzz and the wonderful acoustics of the priory square filtered out just about all noise from the city that is wrapped around this ancient monument.

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Early Doors on Day One. 5th CAMRA Gloucester Beer and Cider Festival, Blackfriars Priory.

It’s a true oasis in Gloucester city life insulated from the noise and traffic smell of the workday commuting. Friday welcomes many local CAMRA members and beer lovers from further afield. Many locals had used their GL residents cards to proudly claim the discounts on offer but all were glad to be back in the Cathedral to Beer now in its fifth year and fast becoming part of the history of the city itself.

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Stag Day starter. 5th CAMRA Gloucester Beer and Cider Festival, Blackfriars Priory.

Wye Valley Brewery were one of the the main event sponsors bringing the fabulous Lady Marmalade, Daisy Duke and their HPA, Chepstow’s Baa Brewery where there with a best bitter and , in this anniversary period of the crossings,  Two Bridges. The great forest brewer, Hillside were here of course with a couple of light beers, HCL and a new brew Don’t Stop.

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Basking in the Spring sunshine. 5th CAMRA Gloucester Beer and Cider Festival, Blackfriars Priory.

The chosen charity for the event this year was the Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust at Slimbridge and their events manager David was on hand to tell everyone about the charity but with strict instructions not to sign up any new members under the influence. That would have been a good  night wouldn’t it, to wake in the fug from the night before only to realise that somehow, you had become a member! It’s a great charity, with a great restaurant incidentally, and very close to our hearts so well done Gloucester Beer & Cider Festival.

Spring sunshine at the 5th CAMRA Gloucester Beer and Cider Festival historic Blackfriars Priory.

Beer festivals aren’t a headlong dash into oblivion and debauchery. They are an appreciation and days of revelry mixed with self-education and shared passions, particularly Fridays, which seems to attract many more CAMRA members. Here there is a like-minded convivial group with whom to shared passions for the craft of beer and cider and the industry and skill of small producers across the country.

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Ten deep at the bar. 5th CAMRA Gloucester Beer and Cider Festival, Blackfriars Priory.

Whatever their style all sampled and tasted a fabulous range from Porter through session to light craft beers by breweries such as…….For lovers of the apple, great names and great ciders abounded. Many single varieties were in evidence like Gwatkins’ Yarlington Mill and Weston’s with County Perry.

Visitors ranged from far and wide. Many travelling in by train or with designated driver from the Forest of Dean & Wye Valley and
even a large group from the states visiting Gloucestershire for the first time had heard about the festival and called to check it out and sample the beers on offer.

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5th CAMRA Gloucester Beer and Cider Festival, Blackfriars Priory.

Those in need of sustenance had burgers and hotdogs available in the quadrangle and a really well stocked cheese bar in the refectory. Well stocked and well-chosen with some great local cheeses on offer including our own favourite Charles Martell Gloucester. Accompaniments included chutney and celery and fabulous pickled eggs made near Stroud.

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Dinosaur eggs for sale with cheese. 5th CAMRA Gloucester Beer and Cider Festival, Blackfriars Priory.

Finally some post-match stats for you hot off the press from the organisers. Over 1700 people attended over the two days, with 90 and 92% sales on beer and Cider/Perry respectively – a great success for a great event!

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5th CAMRA Gloucester Beer and Cider Festival, Blackfriars Priory.

Voting for best beers went as follows: IN reverse order ladies and gentleman, boys and girls in third place Imperial Porter. In second place Millionaire Stout and the winner of Best Beer of the Festival went to Stouty McStoutface from Mad Dog Brewing in Monmouthshire.

All three winners being dark stouts and porters (we started the day with half of Old Moor Porter from Acorn Brewing) is a really interesting indication of where the craft beer market is going.

It’s research Jim, but not as we know it: 

Read our previous article on the event here

Watch our time-lapse of the set up here

http://www.gloucesterbeerfestival.org.uk/

Twitter @GlosBeerFest

Beer Festival Facebook page

ANZAC Day beer special and The 3rd Gloucester CAMRA Beer & Cider Festival

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If you happen to be an Australian or a New Zealander, you’ll already know that 25th April is a very special day in the antipodean calendar. It is ANZAC Day and the remembrance of Australians and Kiwi’s who have died in conflict, this is a day deep in the down under psyche. Originally a day to remember those of the Australia and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZACS) who died in the failed attempt to capture the Gallipoli peninsula from the Ottoman Empire in April 1915 during the First World War. It was the first occasion that the joint expeditionary force took heavy casualties in that war and as such it has, ever since, been an important day for both nations.

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Hillsides special ANZAC beer for the 3rd Gloucester CAMRA Festival

Now though, ANZAC Day has come to be a more general day of remembrance for the dead and all of those who suffered in all campaigns and Aussies and Kiwi’s, wherever they are in the world, hold this day dear. In the UK there will be major events at the National Memorial Arboretum in Staffordshire and  I don’t think that I’ll ever forget the emotional tension at the ANZAC Day memorial at the Menin Gate in Ypres, Belgium a couple of years ago.

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Essex Farm dressing station

And given that the dates of the 3rd CAMRA Gloucester Beer & Cider Festival coincide with ANZAC Day, and…the nominated festival charity is the Royal British Legion Poppy Appeal, our great friends and beer geniuses over at Hillside Brewery have come up with their own fitting tribute. Quite fitting that such a sombre day is being marked by the creation of something many of those from the southern hemisphere would appreciate very much – a great beer. Personally, I think that it is a great, and touching, opportunity to commemorate ANZAC Day and in doing so to help out the charity, based in this country, which has similar goals and very close links with the ANZAC associations.

The beer will be officially launched upon us at the festival, being held at the impressive Blackfriars venue, Gloucester. We had exclusive access to the new ANZAC beer and spent a very pleasant hour conducting a very in-depth and scientific tasting session whilst sitting in our shorts outside on a glorious spring day in the Forest of Dean & Wye Valley.

Fosters – it is not! This is a full bodied craft ale from Paul, Derek, Will and the boys. We served it slightly chilled – it being “scorchio” at tasting HQ – and although it has body it tasted light and refreshing, with clear citrus tones and with mango coming through onto the palate. As the beer warmed in the sun, those flavours persisted throughout the tasting, as did the fabulous hop aroma you would expect from a Craft Special beer from Hillside. That hop flavour and aroma is created using British Challenger for the bittering blended, very fittingly, with Galaxy (passion fruit and citrus) and Rakua (more tropical fruit aromas) from Australia and New Zealand for that long lasting aroma.

All in all, we thought it was a fantastic beer. It’s sad when you recall the story behind it but we think that all those ANZAC’s from back in the day would have appreciated the sentiment in their honour so make sure you try at least one – especially on the 25th.

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The 3rd CAMRA Gloucester Beer & Cider Festival kicks off proper on Friday 24th April and then you have to go back and do it all again on the 25th! Full information is on their website at http://www.gloucesterbeerfestival.org.uk/ and of course there is more information about all the beers from the Hillside stable at www.hillsidebrewery.com who also offer brewery tours and brewery experience days.

The product shot is a compilation done by us here in the WyeDean Deli Confidential studio. The back drop is a poppy cut into mild steel from the Essex Farm Dressing Station memorial site and the foreground is a shot of the battlefield debris as it would have looked and currently on display in the Tyne Cot Cemetery visitor centre, both of which are in the countryside around Ypres, Belgium

Official Brewery Tasting Notes:

On the nose is tropical fruit, pineapple and mango. The flavour is a full bodied, tropical fruit flavour with passion fruit, mango and pineapple with a caramel malt backbone with a slightly dry finish – leaving you wanting more. We have used Challenger which is a British hop for the bittering and Galaxy and Rakau from Australia and New Zealand for the flavour and aroma.