The Black Prince, Woodstock: Beer Festival 10-14 September 2014

The Black Prince have their annual beer festival on NOW.  Check out the beer list below.  It’s worth going as they have @oakhamAles Citra and Scarlet Macaw on, and they’re my favourites…  Stop what you’re doing and go now:

The Black Prince,2 Manor Rd, Woodstock, Oxfordshire OX20 1XJ


Great beers at the Hook Norton Beer Festival

20140719_144946Humour is most definitely alive and well in the land of the beer festival…

This was my first time at this event, and on the whole I was impressed:

Good things:
  • 100+ beers and ciders on cask
  • Fast attentive bar service
  • £1.50 a half, which is very good value
  • Good tasting notes
  • Camping available if you wanted to
  • Live music
  • Good selection of non-alcoholic options and foods to keep drivers and kids topped up
Not so good things:
  • Billed as being family friendly, but there wasn’t much for kids to do – apart from a horse and cart ride around the car park field
  • Far too many people crammed into too small-a-space, especially when groups of folks turn up with their gazebos, chairs and the like

When you organize this event next time, please try to make a bigger area for festival-goers to congregate – give some room for people to spread out a bit and make sure the stage with the music is somewhere where everyone can see it.

My kids only managed to last about an hour and half before they became over-whelmed by the sheer amount of people compressed into such a small space – especially when we all had to pile in the tent to escape the thunderstorm.

It was difficult to navigate the site without tripping over gazebo guy ropes, dog leads, folding chairs and lord knows what else.

And please: next year have a free bouncy castle…most people I saw leaving early were going because their kids were bored or kicking off about something or other (mine included).  Beer festivals are normally a great family day out and mine usually get wildly over-excited at the idea of going to one (Arthur couldn’t sleep the night before the Hooky one, as he normally gets cake, crisps and pop all afternoon, plus unlimited bouncy castle time with his mates…imagine his disappointment when there was no castle at all)

Parents with happy children will stay a lot longer and spend so much more on food and drink…

Despite the above, the festival was well organized and there was a MAGNIFICENT beer list: with really great tasting notes that helped me choose the four beers that I sampled:


Dark Star – Hop Head:

Oh god, this was so good. Tons of hops, maybe Simcoe – but not at all catty. Pretty much excellent.  I love this beer to death.


Hyde’s – Anvil Sharp Motueka:

A beer I just had to try because I’ve been curious about this particular New Zealand hop. The beer turned out to be almost fresh cigar-like, thick malt and caramel, some graininess and a good non-citrussy hop hit. (I can’t actually find this beer anywhere on this site?)


Hopshackle – Hopnosis:

Lightly citrussy and ethereal. A tasty light maltiness and an excellent bitterness, Good pervasive and lasting after-taste


Oakham Ales – Scarlet Macaw:

On cask this is just like the bottle ( but even lovelier. All-round-excellent. Hoppy, bitey, makes you all screechy – just like a Macaw (that’s copied verbatim from my festival notes and was the last drink of the day…could you guess?)


Will definitely be going back to Hooky next year as long as there’s more opportunity to keep the kids amused while I sample beer…  :o)   I’m also happy to report that ALL of the money raised at the festival goes to charity.  So good on them.

Chadlington Beer Festival: 1st June 2013

Last Saturday saw the family and I take a trip out to Chadlington in Oxfordshire for a visit to their 10th annual beer festival.  The festival was held in and around the environs of the village memorial hall on what turned out to be one of those perfect English summer’s days.


There was more than enough in the way of diversions to keep everyone entertained:  a cricket match was in progress on the field to the left; around the hall, food stalls were serving up pretty decent burgers, pork rolls, etc.  Some small fairground rides were taking kids for a spin (with the obligatory bouncy castle) whilst the Charlbury Morris hey-nonnied the afternoon away.

To the right of the hall was a large football field with more than enough room for the youngest of the festival goers to gambol around in.  Live music provided a musical backdrop to the whole occasion too…and that music looked set to continue way into the evening, with some half-decent looking bands on the bill…

As mentioned before this wasn’t a gigantic festival, there being only 20 or so beers on offer…but those beers were obviously carefully selected, and there were representatives of quite a few styles – including a Belgian Dubbel, which I was surpised to see.

First beer for me was White Witch from the Wizard Brewery – Described on the Wizard website as “A pale fruity ale with a strong hoppy finish” and also “Chadlington Beer Festival Winner 2005” to boot.

It was certainly a decent drop but not nearly as distinctively hoppy or fruity as I would have liked.  I think beers these days need to stand out from the crowd, otherwise they just get drunk and forgotten – a bit like George Best before he popped his footballing clogs.

Second up was The Oak Leaf Brewery’s Hole Hearted, which the website tells me “The use of Cascade hops gives this golden ale powerful floral and tropical fruit flavours, and a delicate bitterness.” All I can say is that they know their beer well:  it does have a delicate bitterness, a bitterness that persists long enough to persuade you to sup again and again.

The cascade hopping is evident and is more subtle than I usually like my cascade-hopped beers to be, but it’s a very, very, drinkable drop.  I recommend this beer, order a pint if you see it.

Thirdly I tried Tring Brewery’s Colley’s Dog, described as “Dark ruby in colour but not over rich. Strong yet very drinkable, this premium ale has a long dry finish with overtones of malt and walnuts.”  When supped it did bring forth a lovely nutty maltiness, with a healthy alcoholic warmth, followed by a fruitcake sort of dryness – a bit like Dundee cake.  I liked it a lot.  A smashing “brown” beer.

StylecarronadeMy last beer was Tryst’s Carronade IPA: “Packed full of citrus flavours from the distinctive Washington state hops used, combined with pale malt and Carron valley water to create a real thirst- quenching treat.”  Now, those of you who read this blog regularly know that I like an IPA -preferably a glass full of mental, in your face, hoppiness- and I was expecting Carronade to be a fairly standard run-of-mill English IPA…but how wrong could I be; it turned out to be a lovely, lightly malty, cask ale in the English style but absolutely cram-stuffed with those US hop flavours that I really dig.

Easily the best beer out of the four I tried that afternoon.  I cannot recommend this beer highly enough.

In early June next year keep and eye out for the beer festival at Chadlington.  It’s one of the best I’ve been to as it is easily the most relaxed and well organized.