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Sunday, 25 March 2012

Waterloo Beer Festival review

On Friday afternoon, I went to the Waterloo Beer Festival where I'd arranged to meet an old school friend. This festival is held in the Old Christ Church on Waterloo Road, which is now deconsecrated and narrowly escaped demolition a couple of decades ago. It is an old Victorian church, complete with stained glass windows in need of a bit of care and attention (there is, for instance, some subsidence around the pillars, but I'm not sure what you can do about that without a load of cash); it's much better as a distinctive resource for the community rather than just another building site. You'll find it about 10 minutes' walk from Waterloo Station: that's Waterloo in Merseyside, not London.

The festival offered 200 real ales, 50+ ciders and perries and a range of exotic continental beers, and was run by the Liverpool Organic Brewery along the same lines that CAMRA festivals are run, with the added bonus of lots of seating, although I suspect that might be different on Friday and Saturday evenings, both of which were sold out on-line. I didn't have a beer I didn't like, even though I'd decided to try only beers previously unknown to me; trying unfamiliar beers can sometimes lead to disappointment. I was amused to see a brewery called Mr Grundy's Brewery, so I had to try their beers: 1914 was a 5% dark stout which I did like (some stouts can seem overpowering to me), and a pale bitter 4% called Golden Dawn which was more to my taste. I think my favourite of the day was from Great Heck brewery of Yorkshire called Heaven and Heck - 5%, pale, hoppy and full of flavour.

No offence intended to our hosts, Liverpool Organic, but as I can buy their excellent beers at any time, I didn't have any on this occasion.

All in all a great festival, where I met several old friends, including from where I used to work, from Wigan CAMRA branch, from the Southport Swords and from the Bothy Folk Club, as well as my old school friend, who has already decided to pencil the next Waterloo Beer Festival (22 - 25 November) in his diary.

The only thing I don't understand is why they've got a picture of David Mitchell on the front of the festival programme.

6 comments:

  1. I went on the Friday night. I got there 10 minutes after the doors opened and it was already half full.

    I also managed to go the entire night without a bad beer, and kept LOB to only 1 beer.

    Considering it's only been running 3 years, the Liverpool Beer Festival could learn a thing or two from Waterloo, not least online ticket sales and don't put a dire, deafening rock covers band on Friday night! There was a bloke singing, but it didn't get in the way of the conversation.

    To me, the Friday night crowd was also very mixed (age / sex etc) and I guess this is partly down to easier ticket ordering.

    Good work all round, and the November date already in the diary.

    My only tiny tiny gripe would be that I like to see a lined glass..

    Great venue too!

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  2. I agree about the lined glasses, although they did make every effort to give full measures. I suppose, not being CAMRA, they operate to pub norms.

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  3. Your comment about not drinking the Liverpool Organic because you can drink it,"at any time", brings me to beg the question, why do Beer Festivals sell so much Locale? I enjoy all of our local brews, but I go to a Beer Festival to sample beer I have never tasted before and what do I get, up to half of the beers available are what I can buy in the pub next door any day of the week!

    I suppose there is an argument that people attending who live in different parts of the country get to try them under one roof, but I would suggest that most people who attend are within a thirty mile radius of the smaller festivals.

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  4. Good point. I remember years ago when I was working at the Bury beer festival, which is in the heart of JW Lees country, being asked for a pint of Lees Bitter by a couple of customers. Why? I wondered.

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  5. hi im one of the organisers of the festival as well as head brewer for liverpool organic, out of 185 beers on only 40 were locales(20 of which are our own)as we organise the festival we dont think thats unreasonable....nearly 50% of attendees either dont regularily drink real ale at all normally, or only very occasionally ,showcasing some of the wonderful breweries we have around here to the unenlightened only makes sense in my book.as for the glasses?......they were cheaper.....it is a commercial exercise after all....

    critch the brewer

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  6. Welcome back here, Critch. The comment about local beers was aimed at festivals in general, not yours in particular, where there was no problem with the percentage of local beers.

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