Brew and Bean

Review: Brew-denell Beer Festival 2020

As the editor of a blog that covers local music and beer, there is no better combination possible than a Beer Festival at the best independent music venue in the country, Brudenell Social Club.

Heading down to the Brude on the Sunday of Brew-denell is always a risk. If it’s popular on Friday/Saturday there isn’t much left, hence the zero charge. This year though, they must have ordered plenty of barrels as when we arrived at doors on Sunday, there were still over 40 beers left, a mix of cask and keg, for us to sample.

What is immediately noticeable is the vast array of British beers on offer. From experimental offerings from the likes of Magic Rock and Yeastie Boys, to the best of the classics from Timothy Taylor and Kirkstall, the Brewdenell Beer Festival had it all for beer lovers, and before heading into town to the Verdant Tap Room at Assembly Rooms, Tapped Brew Co in Leeds and of course Craft Asylum #2, I tried six of those on offer.

1: New England Session IPA 3.8% – Anthology Brew Co. – Leeds, United Kingdom

Starting local and light, there was only one option for me, a nice keg offering from Anthology Brew Co. The beer had everything I’d expect from a New Zealand pale, hoppy, light and thinner than a standard pale ale making it the perfect first drink of the day. Not too overpowering and thankfully not too tropical, it had a real taste of beer and citrus which has gone missing from beers of late. If I wasn’t at a beer festival and just having a day at the Brudenell, I’d happily have drank this all day – a great session. I’ll be looking out for this across Leeds when I next visit. 3.5/5

2: Scaramanga Extra Pale Ale 3.9% – Gun Brewery – Sussex, United Kingdom

I’ll be honest, after the Anthology Session, I found it hard to want to go much stronger. It was going to be a day for the light pales which I wouldn’t normally do, but with Gun Brewery’s Scaramanga onn offer it made my second choice of the day very obvious. The 3.9 Extra Pale was refreshing, and the extra pale malts made it very easily drinkable. Packed with citrus flavours it was impressive, but made even more impressive when I saw that it was gluten free. To date I’ve not really got on with too many GF pales, they seem to be missing something, but this one bucked that trend and I would choose it over and over again. Could have had more flavour, yes, but as far as doing what it says on the tin goes, this was a very good second beer. 3/5

3: Dalliance Pale Ale 4% – Bad Seed Brewery – Malton, United Kingdom

Unfined and unfiltered are two words I very rarely like to see when it comes to beer. I struggled at first after the creaminess of the last two beers. Dalliance was thin and malty compared to light and hoppy so this was a shock. If I was reviewing the first two sips, this one from Bad Seed wouldn’t have got above 2, but it grew on me. It certainly isn’t an American IPA but once you put that thought to one side, you can enjoy the warmth and the depth in the flavour. As someone who isn’t a fan of malty beers, this was a pleasant surprise and I could have easily had a few pints once I was used to the taste. 3/5

4: Hundred Dollar Volvo Pale 5% – Black Lodge Brewery – Liverpool, United Kingdom

Stepping up the percentage, this 5% pale from Liverpool’s Black Lodge, was the nicest beer of the day by some margin. About as solid a fruity pale gets, this unfiltered vegan pale benefited from the gorgeous Ekuanot hops, giving it a beautiful taste and at times floral notes. Having not come across the brewery or their beers before, I was really impressed with what I was drinking. It was the right beer at the right time and choosing this as the only 5%+ beer of the day, was the best choice I could have made. 4/5

5: Dexter Salted Caramel 4.5% – Kirkstall Brewery

You simply cannot go to a beer festival like this and not try a dark beer. Unfortunately though, it seems I chose the wrong one as this version of Dexter, didn’t match the others in the series (namely Coconut and Vanilla). Knowing how good Kirkstall’s Dexter can be from the numerous times I’ve drank it at the Brudenell, I was excited to see they had a Salted Caramel one on offer. This was just too thin and sickly though and didn’t do their other beers justice. If you like sweet beers this would have worked, but for me this needed to be more subtle and didn’t hit the mark. 2.5/5

6: Barrel 13 8.2% – Magic Rock Brewery

I have no words for this beer. To this day I still don’t know if I was drinking this or if my mouth was being beat up by it. Did I enjoy it? I don’t know. Did I drink it and want another one? Absolutely. The second this sour hit the mouth, it started to rip the skin off the roof and the citrus tartness of it, cut through with every sip. But the flavour of the beer, the flavour was just exceptional. This Exclusive Barrel Aged Sour was an absolute mindf**k in so many ways, but the quality of the brewing cannot be denied. Magic Rock push boundaries and the wincing from the people I was with when they tried it, showed just how different and sour it was. I think I loved it, but I think my mouth hated it at the same time. This shows how different beer is in 2020 and I’m excited to see what the Huddersfield brewers do this year! 4/5

All in all, a well run festival with one of the best ranges of British beers of a festival this size. Well worth a visit in 2021 for their ninth annual event!

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