Spring Beer Festivals

Spring Blossom at Coniston

Spring Blossom at Coniston

I love a good beer festival – they’re excellent ways to explore a greater range of beers than are normally available. Part of the inspiration behind Jolly Good Beer is to help beer festivals out – in both expanding their range, supplying special requests where possible, and for those new to festivals we can also lend a hand and technical knowledge.

No need for the latter in the following cases however, three excellent festivals run by some of the most knowledgeable cellar folk in North Hertfordshire. Jolly Good Beer is helping out with all of them to varying degrees – from simply filling in the Coniston gaps in the Half Moon’s “every CBoB winner since 1996” list through to supplying a majority of the Our Mutual Friend’s list.

The Our Mutual Friend is an excellent pub on the edge of Stevenage – a multiple North Herts CAMRA “Pub of the Year” winner owned and run by beer lovers. They seek variety in their festivals lists and have asked Jolly Good Beer to help out with their festival that starts next week Thursday April 24th. Here’s what we have going to them:

  • Coniston Bluebird (3.6%) – 1998 Champion Beer of Britain & still going strong
  • Elland Nettlethrasher (4.4%) – copper coloured traditional “strong bitter”
  • Five Points Pale Ale (4.4%) – a fresh, zesty, aromatic pale ale
  • Hardknott Continuum (4.0%) – robust golden bitter with a big hop punch
  • Hardknott Lux Borealis (3.8%) – pale straw session beer with Aurora hops
  • Ilkley Joshua Jane (3.7%) – nut-brown traditional Yorkshire bitter
  • Ilkley Gold (3.9%) – perfectly balanced golden session ale
  • Ilkley Fireside Porter (4.2%) – wickedly warming porter
  • Mallinsons Indulgence (3.7%) – pale with loads of the 4 classic “C” hops
  • Mallinsons Kiwi Classic (4.4%) – pale with loads of NZ hops: Pacific Gem, Motueka, Nelson Sauvin
  • Weird Beard, Black Perle (3.8%) – milk coffee stout brewed with real coffee and Perle hops
  • Weird Beard, K*ntish Town Beard (5.6%) – hoppy “American Wheat Beer” brewed in collaboration with BrewDog’s Camden bar staff.
Our Mutual Friend beer linup

Our Mutual Friend beer linup

Coniston beers

Coniston beers

Moving a little north of Stevenage we have the Half Moon in Hitchin, another repeat PotY winner who’re regaining the trophy for 2014. This is Howard and Wendy’s “10th Anniversary Beer Festival” – celebrating a decade running the pub – and it’ll feature an amazing 60 different beers. This festival also starts next Thursday April 24th! (A good time for a train trip to North Herts?) A highlight of this festival is that Howard has collected together EVERY “CAMRA Champion Beer of Britain” since 1996. Jolly Good Beer helped out here by running all the way to Coniston to fetch:

  • Coniston Bluebird (3.6%) – 1998 Champion Beer of Britain and even now, 16 years later, it maintains a “99-for-style” in RateBeer. Fantastic.
  • Coniston No.9 Barley Wine (8.5%) – 2012 Champion Beer of Britain

That’s all we’re doing for the fest… but we’re very happy to have helped out and think the full list is absolutely fantastic. It was an excellent excuse for a bit of hillwalking followed by refreshments in Coniston Brewery’s own Black Bull pub.

Looking down on Coniston from the Old Man

Looking down on Coniston from the Old Man

Black Bull, Coniston

Black Bull, Coniston

Finally, a little further north again, we have the Baldock Independent Beer Festival starting on Friday May 2nd and running through Saturday and Sunday. This excellent festival is run by local enthusiasts to raise funds for charity. We haven’t finalised the list but it’ll feature many of the breweries already mentioned plus Summer Wine Brewery and Redemption Brewing Co beers will be making an appearance. Perhaps some other goodies from London as well if we get our hands on them in time. The photo below shows a selection of what we have lined up for Baldock.

Some Baldock Beer Festival beers

Some Baldock Beer Festival beers

Currently we also have beers at or destined for the Bank (Willingham), Mill (Cambridge), Maypole (Cambridge), Orange Tree (Baldock), Strathmore Arms (St. Paul’s Walden). And we’re working on getting the good stuff out further and wider and continuing to vary the range… as mentioned Summer Wine already teed up, we have an eye on Great Heck too, and Bristol Beer Factory down south – plus a wide-roving set of eyes focused on London. We’re always open to your suggestions… don’t hesitate to send your requests to @JollyGoodBeer on Twitter or via email to iwantbeer@jollygoodbeer.co.uk – or just use the comment form below!