Fenman Abroad at the Derby Winter Ale Festival 2019
Derby is well known for its railway connections. It has the world's first railway roundhouse, built by Robert Stephenson in 1839 for the North Midland Railway, and now a Grade II* listed building. It was described on construction as "A polygon of sixteen sides, and 190ft diameter, lighted from a dome-shaped roof, of the height of 50ft. It contains sixteen lines of rails, radiating from a single turn-table in the centre: the engines, on their arrival, are taken in there, placed upon the turn-table, and wheeled into any stall that may be vacant. Each of the sixteen stalls will hold two, or perhaps more, engines."
And so it was, that on a warm and sunny day, Fenman and The Webmeister alighted from the 12.02 at Derby railway station and walked across the road to the Roundhouse. The pair however couldn’t keep up with Big Tony as he strode off to join the queue that stretched all of 100 yards and round the corner. The crowd soon started to move and make its way into the entrance where beer glass, programme and voucher were collected and the serious business of beer selection and sampling began.
The first beer selected was close at hand, Busmans Pale Ale (3.9%) from 4Ts brewery of Cheshire, the brewery location pleasing Fenman as did the pale ale; off to a good start. The Webmeister sampled the APA (4.0%) from the same brewery. Next up was Bateman Dark Fruits Porter (4.4%) a rarity not to be missed, even by Lincolnshire folk. On then to Brewery Bar 3 Music Marquee, a timely visit before the music commenced, and a chat with the Blue Monkey staff, a sticker and a generous third of Chocolate Guerilla Amaretto stout (4.9%), and as the tasting notes stated “a complex and malty stout with a rich chocolate aroma and flavours”.
The Carriage Room held various brewery bars but the pair were keen to visit the Competition Beers bar where those judged as winners were on display. Several of the breweries and the beers were familiar, none more so than 8 Sail that had finalist stickers on the barrels on some of their brews. It was here that a customer asked for Windy Miller, so Fenman couldn’t resist mentioning he lived just a few hundred yards from the brewery. The reply came back,”Where is that exactly ? I’m from Houston, Texas and have come over specially for this beer festival”. Wow!
Several of the Competition Beers were sampled including Papa Jangle’s Voodoo Stout (4.5%) from Totally Brewed, Sooty Oatmeal Stout (4.8%) from Nottingham, and Portland Black mild from Welbeck, and continuing the dark side theme, Brampton Mild (4.9%) “to tease your taste buds and warm the cockles”. Black Sabbath stout (6.0%) from Brunswick completed the range.
Back then to the main Roundhouse for 5 bean chilli and rice to fuel up and then a little more sampling with a Scrum Down bitter (4.1%) from Teignworthy, a clear taste with a hint of vanilla – smudged by the chilli no doubt. Quench pale (3.2%) from Brass Castle (cask rather than via the piano) provided an alternative. The Cloud Nine (4.2%) from Six Bells, Shropshire, had to be tested as the tasting notes quoted “popular with the connoisseur”. And so it proved! Cloudwater Brewery provided probably the strangest name “Pale 567 A-W1 8” (4.0%) and a long description about the flavours; mango, passion fruit, pineapple, peach .... You get the idea. Release the Chimps IPA (4.4%) from Nene Valley rather than Blue Monkey was one of several Gluten Free beers on offer.
A Chatsworth Gold (4.5%) from Peak rounded off the day and an excellent day out it certainly was. Derby Winter Ale Festival, a favourite one to visit again and again.
DJM 21 Feb 2019