Given the brouhaha I raised when I found out that I probably couldn’t make it to the Cambridge 39th Beer Festival, it’s only proper that I tell you that I did in fact go last night. My budget was 1.5 hours and no more than 3 or 4 half pints.

It was great walking past the long queues and going straight in as a Camra member. Highly recommended.

For openers I wasn’t overly impressed with the “Wild Swan” (Thornbridge Brewery, Bakewell) which is a white gold beer at 3.5% with aromas of bitter lemon and a hint of herbs. Yes, it was refreshing but it was nothing special. Should have gone for their “Sequoia” instead, with its promise of citrus and pine with hints of roasted hazelnut, toffee and caramel malt flavours. But alas it has now sold out.

Very drinkable was the half-pint of “Brassed Off” (Spire, Chesterfield) which is a good solid amber ale at 3.7%. Nothing too dramatic in the tasting, just a well-balanced smooth bitter. I tried “Bruins Ruin” (Beartown, Congleton), a 5% ale. It was like the “Brassed Off” in many ways but with a bit more character – a bit more fruitiness going on.

Beer of the evening for me was “Jubilee Ale” (Bullmastiff, Cardiff), a 5% amber ale that promised a mix of biscuit sweetness (think digestives rather than custard cremes) and dark fruit. But the standout taste for me was the caramel or toffee flavour. Great aroma, excellent taste and very nice follow-through. I could see this one being a source of pleasure for maybe 2 or 3 pints before the taste overkill occurred.

The sun shone and we found some comfortable chairs outside in the sunshine. The company was genial and the conversation sparkled. There were as many untried and promising beers as there were tried ones. Might be worthwhile doing this recovery malarkey and staying on in this cruel old world after all šŸ˜‰