I missed the last one of these sadly due to work pressures but it was great to go back, the festival beers were better organised so that they had run out of interesting beers on the Saturday. Saturdays for this festival get very busy indeed, whilst there were a few missing beers there was a heck of a lot of choice still.
Sadly Fuller's Imperial Stout had gone on the Friday night so I didn't get to try that but the bar inside had a hidden treasure from Fullers. A cask of their Vintage Ale... It was interesting to later see tweets with people mentioning it and others going "Really? Where!", for my part it was a great beer to try on tap. I actually far prefer it on tap to bottle same as with Golden Pride to be honest. It was everything you could hope for in a strong winter beer, sweet fruity notes balanced with just enough sweetness and bitter.
Thomas Sykes, the barley wine from Burton Bridge just didn't live up to it normal self, it was extremely sweet and cloying which made me wonder if they had stopped fermentation too soon? Not sure as I'm not a brewer but it just wasn't the barley wine I have had in previous years, I will try it again next year this could just be a blip and I only see it at this festival so...
From the Highlands, Orkney and Cairngorm breweries impressed with their two beers, both warming and morish for winter. Moorhouse's Ruby Witch was delightful with its toffee spice and their Black Cat which is a firm favourite of mine didn't disappoint at all. Robinson's had provided a cask of Old Tom, again I much prefer this on cask to bottle, the chocolate and port flavours seem to meld better this way to me.
Unfortunately again we missed out on Snowflake from Sarah Hughes brewery but then we weren't surprised, CAMRA tend to hit this festival on the first couple of days so we knew this would have gone alongside Fullers Imperial Stout, we were surprised to find out that they actually died on the Friday, good planning for the beer lifespan by the organisers I felt!
Windsor and Eton provided their Conqueror 1075 which was an odd beer, it had a salty after tang to it which just seemed to really work.
The biggest surprise of the festival was Downton's Roman Imperial Stout, it was everything you want in an imperial, rich chocolate married with warm roast coffee and that thick comforting mouth feel... And it was a Downton's! Normally we as a group at Festival, with the exception of my partner who really likes their beers, avoid this brewery as there is usually a weird aftertaste that we just don't like but that wasn't there and to my partner great joy then found we also like Nelsons Delight by them too. Ok, it didn't match the notes description but it was a very good beer and we will be trying their beers again now.