What with the world being under the control of a ruthless pandemic there hasn’t been a lot of Beer Festivals to attend. It was in direct response to this pandemic that prompted the folks over at BestOfBritishBeer.co.uk to say “Sod the Covid! We need a festival!” (Ok, we said that but i’m sure the implication was there)
We’ll let them tell you about it :
“We’ve used our ten years’ experience of the industry and gone on a tour to all corners of the British Isles to bring you a spectacular line up of brilliant beers from a selection of this country’s finest independent brewers. Some of the beers featured are staples of this country’s beer festival scene like Titanic and Oakham Ales, but we also have some more ‘under the radar’ producers including Traquair House from Scotland and Bristol’s Lost & Grounded.”
Their festival box costs £39.50 (Delivery is £5.95 per case and free for 2 or more going to the same address) and contains the following:
12 x Craft beers, 1 x Artisan cider, 1 x Craft lager, Snaffling Pig Peanuts, Pub Quiz & Tasting Notes, Glass, Beer Mats and a welcome email that has a Spotify playlist (linked below), downloadable bunting, and most importantly a £5 voucher for your next purchase.
But the best part of this limited edition (till the end of August only!) box is that 10% of all sales go to Alice Charity, who do amazing work supporting families living in poverty. Links at the bottom of the page.
They are so proud of their festival box selection that they decided to send us one for review, which of course we begrudgingly accepted. So sit back and prepare yourself for a rundown of the Best Of British Beer’s Virtual Festival box!
Laird’s House Ale, Traquair Brewery, 7.2% 330ml (Peebles)
On the nose this one is quite aggressive but not enough to put you off in any way. That’s understandable given that this is the heavy-hitter of the box (and the one we decided to tackle first and against festival traditions) clocking in at 7.2% ABV. The taste is initially sweet and combines caramel and and a hint of licorice. The carbonation is light and it pours as a coke color. This is a strong beer but a welcoming one.
Silver Dollar Pale, Tyne Bank Brewery, 4.9 500ml (Newcastle Upon Tyne)
Vaguely caramel on the nose, this offering delivers a hint of zesty Orange peel, honey and light bitter taste to achieve (what we scientifically deemed) a “sit-in-your-mouth” flavour. A full flavour with a thin mouthfeel.
Unchained IPA, Mobberley Brewhouse, 4.4% 330ml (Mobberley)
This 330 boi gave off a fantastic juicy and grassy aroma upon pouring. There was hints of fresh pine, mango and even a little grapefruit in there for good measure. On the eye it pours slightly hazy with a thin head. On the palate there’s a bitterness, smoothness and a hoppy aftertaste. A great session IPA in a New England style
Stout, Titanic Brewery, 4.5 500ml (Stoke)
Admittedly there was a split second where we were triggered by the word Titanic on the bottle – being from Belfast our entire tourism pitch is based on Game Of Thrones and building a ship that hit an iceberg. Triggering aside, this tipple pours thin but with a good head. Incredibly thin mouthfeel for a Stout verging on a black lager. There is a delicious coffee aroma off this one.
Postmans Knock Ruby Porter, Hobsons 4.8% 500ml (Cleobury)
Pours as a dark Ruby sarsparilla colour and smells rich. On the tastebuds it boasts dark fruits and a malty finish. Despite being a porter this one could be mistaken for a red ale. If you’re a fan of the that style you will love this one.
JHB Bitter, Oakham Ales, 4% 500ml (Peterborough)
A Golden Bitter with a wheaty lager smell verging on a traditional ale aroma. An accessible bitter taste with a sweet finish. We didn’t get the lemon drop boasts but it’s a good all-rounder for inclusion in the festival.
Good Old Boy Bitter, West Berkshire Brewing, 4% 500ml (Yattendon)
This fella pours a light brown colour and gives off a wonderfully English Bitter smell that conjures up country pub nostalgia for us – Mahogany, an old man and a dog sitting at the bar, a fire crackling. The taste matches. It’s a light bitter with a lingering taste and boasts notes of burnt caramel, is slightly tart and almost fruity in the undertones.
Phoenix APA, Bedlam Brewery, 3.9 500ml (Plumpton)
Phoenix Pale gives off a subtle hint of citrus and hops, and boasts a fresh aroma. On the eye it pours as light amber with a bit of haze. It doesn’t deliver a big taste despite being hopped with monster-truck-loads of American hops (this is what we deemed the “extra American” portion to be), but rather an English take on an American recipe. Nevertheless a decent pale.
Running with Sceptres IPL, Lost & Grounded, 5.2% 440ml
A standout offering here. We mentioned this one on the CansAcrossTheWorld.Com Podcast’s BEER NEWS a few months ago. A single complaint was made against the artwork on the tin – which the brewery rightly stated as preposterous. This one delivers a subtle aroma of pine but comes into it’s own on the tongue. There’s a honey smoothness that washes from the mid to end taste, delivering a rich and slightly bitter finish. The taste is intriguing and i had to go back for more.
Afghan Pale Ale IPA, GreyTrees, 5.4% 500ml (Aberdare)
Pours dark amber with a lager aroma. The taste is distinct and a very strong pale ale flavour. Chock-full of Cascade, Simcoe and Citra to give a hop soup you’ll be tasting for hours to come.
Battersea Rye, Sambrooks Brewery, 5.8 440ml (London)
Battersea Rye pours the colour of Flintstone cola ice pops but luckily doesn’t taste like them. Not a fan of the style it was one of the nicer ones i’ve had. It boasts a hint of sweetness and English ale. Slightly buttery and salty, malty and biscuity, matching with the toffee and caramel notes. Not quite Riveta in a can, but fans of the style will be pleased.
Knill by Mouth Golden, St Ives Brewery, 5% 500ml (St Ives)
On the eye it pours as golden amber. The smell doesn’t do justice to the taste which is a proper amber offering, bathed in honey and caramel smooth. Sean went back to finish this one off offering that it tasted “like sunshine”.
Abrahalls Vintage Cider, Celtic Marches, 6% 500ml (Herefordshire)
On the nose there’s a distinct cider aroma reminiscent of Old English, which for the longest time of our youth, was the only cider widely available in Northern Ireland (which explains our point of reference). We went into this tipple with caution, not only because we’re a predominantly beer-related blog but because there’s a trend of “vintage” or “craft” ciders being horribly dry. This one was a lovely surprise and a great palate cleanser. Just enough dryness and sweetness to blend the two styles. Even Nikki (our resident Cider expert) got in on the action and stated it was “deeeelicious”. A winner in our book and one we hope to sample again.
Marshall Lager, Williams Bros, 4% 330ml (Alloa)
We’ve covered a few offerings from Williams Bros over the past 2 years and this one nestles neatly alongside them. It pours light amber in colour and and gives off a good amount of hop. Taste-wise it delivers a crisp and clean lager taste. We disagreed briefly on the branding (being musicians) but came to the conclusion that anything with Marshall on it is usually a good sign! This is our pick from the box – a solid hoppy lager with an axe to grind. Great delivery!
That’s our rundown of the VBBF box. There was a few clear favorites included but overall it was a fantastic tour. Where there any additions you felt they missed out?
You can purchase the Virtual British Beer Festival box HERE : https://www.bestofbritishbeer.co.uk/new-beers/virtual-british-beer-festival.html
Exclusive Festival Playlist : https://open.spotify.com/playlist/1m1lTFwgokTi8FDJFyj1FK?si=8Rppt-PISAe4tejgT0HJtA
Support Alice Charity HERE : https://alicecharity.com/
CansAcrossTheWorld.Com Beer Blog and Podcast