Tuesday 17 November 2009
Life is full of too many choices and Saturday November 28 is a prime example
Modern life has too many choices, low-fat, skimmed, free range, organic, biodynamic, cold-filtered and so on — I don’t like it but come Saturday November 28th I will be faced with two choices too many. First of all this is the day of the St Austell Beer Festival, a roisterous and rumbustious celebration of beer and Cornishness at the old Victorian brewery that overlooks the town — over 100 real ales, with nearly a dozen of then brewed especially by Roger Ryman, will be available. When I say especially brewed, we’re not talking the meek and mild — in previous years there has been a coffee stout, a Czech dark lager, a Kolsch style (the prototype which I helped to brewed in the small brewhouse several years ago), a mango beer, Tribute Extra (Tribute beefed up and put in a whisky cask) amongst others. Beers from Cornwall, Wales, Man, Scotland and Ireland celebrate the Celtic nations (plus beers from hardy perennials like Woodfordes etc), but what also makes this festival special is that it has selections of foreign keg beers from California (Sierra Nevada last time I looked), the Czech Republic and Cologne; furthermore you can get Guinness, Carlsberg and several other regulars, which means that you see groups of mates going along, with none of that division you might get at ale fests. Also, I note that Sharps are supplying a couple of special beers, one of which is a 11% Imperial Porter — the two companies might be rivals in the real world, but in this fairyland of beer come Saturday the 28th they’re all pulling together. On the same day, it’s the second day of the White Horse’s Old Ales weekend festival, a righteous rite of passage for the cold months ahead. I have never ventured out to it sadly. I can still remember first reading about it in Michael Jackson’s Beer Companion, but the nearest I got was being at the pub several days after the event and as a reward been offered some Bernardus 12 straight from the cask (my journey back west was a bit hazy). This year, I am told that beers from Le Baladin, Birra del Borgo (I am desperate to try their Imperial Pilsner), as well as Duchesse de Bourgoyne in cask will be highlights, plus various old ales, barley wines and dark beers from the UK. So there you have it, a dilemma to challenge the greatest of philosophers, especially given that train times between Taunton and Paddington or St Austell are roughly the same. I can get the 7am bus out of Dulverton, a train after nine and be propping up the bar by midday, and back in Taunton in time for the 8pm bus home. At the moment inclinations are for St Austell (I don’t like London on Saturdays), but the White Horse is coming up fast. As I said too much choice.
The pic shows one of the beers from the 2006 festival.