The 2010 Carmarthen Beer Festival was the best yet for Real Ale drinkers. Not only that the number of Ale's had ballooned over the forty mark, but the number of visitors who made their way to this year's festival is proof that the popularity of Real Ale is getting gaining momentum every year.
As usual, the group of drinkers consisted this year of the core - myself, Hefin, Al, Craig and Lee. Richard, as he is every year, was at the door at 5pm prompt, but was missing in action throughout Friday morning onwards nursing the strains that is the Carmarthen beer festival.
Thursday night was mostly a blur. As usual, the first night for me is killer, but with a clear head the morning after, I managed to make it through Friday and Saturday.
This years Beer Festival Champion, I'm proud to announce is Al Griffiths. He totally outclassed the competition this year, myself included. I would hazard the guess that he smashed Barrie Thomas' all time record of finishing all the Real Ale's on the Friday night with time to spare.
Many of the Carmarthen Beer Festival favourites were on tap this year as ever, including offerings from Evan Evans, Tomos Watkin & Brecon. The mighty Attila, a firm favourite from last year, made it's return. This Real Ale, at 7.5%, excited the taste buds and hurt the heads of many drinkers.
The list of Beers:
Below is a list of all the Real Ale's that were available at this years festival. This year's count hit the 41 mark, the all time highest number of different Ale's at the festival.
Absent from the list this year was the range of Ale's from Brains Brewery. The reason for this was simple: no one buys the stuff at the Festival. Maybe this is a testament to Brains S.A. as they are probably one of the most popular Real Ale in Wales. So lets give people at the Festival other Beers to sample.
I've included the notes of each Ale taken from the program along with my hastily scribbled tasting notes from the night. Apologies if some are brief and vague! I wasn't at my most sober!
- Black Sheep - Bitter
- Bowman - Swift One
- Brecon - Ysbryd Y Ddraig
- Brecon - Cribyn
- Brecon - Rambler's Ruin
- Brew Dog - Trashy Blonde
- Bryncelyn - Oh Boy
- Bryncelyn - Buddy Marvelous
- Bullmastiff - Son of a Bitch
- Castle Rock - Harvest Pale
- Crouch Vale - Amarillo
- Dark Star - Hophead
- Elgoods - Black Dog Mild
- Evan Evans - Cwrw
- Evan Evans - Warrior
- Evan Evans - HBA
- Evan Evans - Cwrw X
- Facers - Daves Hoppy Beer
- Heart of Wales - Aur Cymru
- Hopback - Crop Circle
- Hopback - Summer Lightning
- Itchen Valley - Fagins
- Jacobi - Light Ale
- Kingstone - Gold
- Loddon - Hoppit
- Newmans - Red Castle Cream
- Oakham - Attila
- Otley - O5 Gold
- Preseli Brewery - Baggywrinkle
- Purple Moose - Dark Side of the Moose
- Rhymney - Export
- Shepherd Neame - Spitfire
- Swansea - Three Cliffs Gold
- Swansea - Deep Slade Dark
- Teignworthy - Top Dog
- Timothy Taylor - Landlord
- Tatton - Best
- Tomos Watkin - Cwrw Haf
- Tomos Watkin - BB
- Tomos Watkin - OSB
- Wye Valley - Butty Bach
Far and away the brewery's best selling cask beer, a well hopped light golden best bitter with a distinctive, dry, refreshing taste.
Body lets the malty aftertaste down slightly.
A pale, golden quaffing ale with excellent flavours for it's strength. Pleasingly hoppy with a fine aroma. The finish is dry with a small twist of sweetness.
Very easy going, perfect for a fast-paced session on a night out.
A deep golden coloured ale, with complex flavours derived from the oak Whisky casks used during maturation.
Typical Whiskey-laden flavours from the Breconshire Brewery.
A very pale straw coloured aromatic Best Bitter, brewed with Northdown, Challenger and Bramling Cross Hops.
Tasty, the best in the Breconshire Brewery repoitiore.
Deep amber, malty and well hopped with a beautifully balanced aftertaste with malt/biscuit undertones.
Surprisingly mature, again with that Whiskey taste. Or is it just me?
A titillating, neurotic, peroxide, punk of a pale ale. With a seductive lure of sassy passion fruit hops, all wrapped up with the customary Brew Dog bite and imaginative twist.
Hops tickle the taste buds in this full on skull smasher of an Ale.
Golden beer with fruit and hop aroma. A refreshing burst of hops and fruit and underlying malt.
A little weak on the palate.
A robust, tasty blend of malt and roast flavours. Hops and fruit emerge along with bitterness to balance and leave a complex finish.
Wishy-washy compared to previous years. Bryncelyn seem to be missing the mark the last two years. A shame.
What they said: Powerful, amber brew, complex mix balanced by good bitterness. Warming and tasty beer from a small craft brewery.
Almost an orange peel element to it. Best yet from Bullmastiff.
Brewed with a gently-kilned malt with an aromatic blend of American hops added during the brewing process to give this pale beer the exceptional poise. It's distinct hop flavour leads to a crisp finish.
No tasting notes available.
A superb premium golden ale with wonderful aroma and a lasting spicy flavour.
A mixed bag. Needs a sober palate to appreciate. I can recall it being complex but I wasn't in any state to critique.
An extremely clean-drinking pale gold coloured ale with a strong floral aroma and elderflower notes.
Pungent on the nose. Very strong, hoppy and unrelentless.
A traditional dark mild, well balanced with a full roast flavour.
Unassumingly rich yet smooth. What a mild should be about.
A rich, premium bitter designed to be light refreshing and full of flavour. Rich malty flavour, with a distinct fruity palate.
Easy session drinking ale. Good, balance with a full flavour.
An amber coloured beer, dry and malty with a faint aroma of hops, fruit and caramel. Brewed a little darker than the other Evan Evans beers but still quite distinctively Welsh.
Typical Evan Evans, yet such a good standard amongst all of his bitters.
New premium beer. Dark amber coloured, full-bodied with a delicious dry biscuit malt body and distinctive fresh fruity palate.
No tasting notes available.
Amber coloured ale with a distinctive fruity nose, a full-bodied malty palate with berry fruit and dry bitterness.
Fruit, like a hoot! Light to medium bodied session bitter will make this a popular Ale for many drinkers.
At 4.3% abv Daves Hoppy Beer is a dry hopped version of Splendid Ale with a generous helping of Syrian Golding hops added to the cask. Daves Hoppy Beer is ideal for those who like their beers really hoppy.
Springy, tangy and delightfully hoppy.
A clear, bright golden ale with a clean refreshing taste. Initial bitterness gives way to a sweeter, floral body as the Cascade hops bursts through and citrus notes linger to the finish.
Easy going, with a bitterness that you don't expect until the finish.
A clean, flaxen-coloured beer with a subtle blend of aroma and bittering hops give a crispness on the tongue, delicately fruity, giving away to some dryness.
Light... too light on the palate. Damn you Hopback.
An extremely pleasant bitter, straw coloured beer with a terrific fresh, hoppy aroma. This coupled with an intense bitterness, leads to an excellent long, dry finish.
Typical Hopback butterscotch flavours. I like butterscotch in a Cohiba, but not as the primary flavour profile in an Real Ale.
A light brown, well balanced beer with fine malts, dry citrus flavours and well-hopped.
Forgettable amount of light malt.
Citrus hop aroma accompanies a clear golden-coloured beer. Hoppy and citrus with a crisp, bitter malt finish. A good session ale!
Light, fruity tang. Always a winner!
A straw-coloured, smooth ale with citrus notes and a lovely balanced hoppy finish.
Incredible citrus profile. Almost like drinking a fresh glass of Orange Juice.
The predominant hops are East Kent Goldings which have a Seville Orange marmalade flavour. Hoppit also contains dark Invert Sugar which gives the beer it's smooth taste.
This ale is full of flavour with a delightful velvety texture. The full malt character comes from a perfect mash consisting of Munich malt and rye blends.
Delightfully creamy, velvet profile with vanilla tones.
Taste of ripe red berries and citrus fruit with a long bitter fruity finish and an aroma of fruit and elderflower. Supreme Champion Winter Beer of Britain & Silver Supreme Champion Beer of Britain 2009.
Slightly disappointing after last year's stand out performance.
Golden yellow in colour. Made with American hops and lager malt. This has a hoppy taste with a chunk of lemony hops and a rounded bitterness, which provides most of the flavour.
Wheaty character, not unlike a German premium beer.
Deep amber in colour with a slight, white head. Light caramel and apricot aroma with some floral hops. Sweetish, malty flavour, with more fruit, citrus hop and a long, bitter finish.
MOR malty flavour profile. Doesn't have the power that I was expecting.
A delicious dark ale with a deep malt flavour from roasted barley and a fruit bitterness from Bramling Cross hops.
Easy drinking, sweet cocoa notes on aftertaste.
A heady flavour from a combination of six malts, carefully and skillfully mixed by hand, which provides an ale of exceptional character, full-bodied yet rounded, serious but quaffable.
Full of hops, full bodied. Guaranteed good times.
No tasting notes available.
Hops and fruit aroma leads to a tasty mix of hops, fruit and malt. Moderate bitterness quickly builds, leaving a hoppy, bitter finish.
Crisp and clean. Good effort.
Dark bitter with a roasted chocolate flavour.
A light bronze coloured ale, full of Golding Hops which gives it a flower/fruity aromatic finish. Brewed due to the head brewer's love of shooting and his dogs that frequent the office.
Interesting concoction of hops gives it's a distinct sweetness.
Refreshingly reliable, nationally renowned, this full drinking Pale Ale with a complex and hoppy aroma has real "pulling power" and stands out in any bar as the ideal regular.
No-thrills, easy and agreeable.
Sturdy, easy going MOR bitter.
Light in colour, produced using no coloured malts, but strong in character and flavour.
Always a winner, this east drinking amber beer has a light butterscotch element.
Tomos Watkin is onto a winner with this Ale.
A rich red premium cask ale produced using pale ale, crystal and wheat malt. A full fruity/citrus hop flavour of willamette and fruggle with the light aroma of Goldings.
Reliable session drinking Ale.
A burnished gold premium ale. Full bodied, smooth and satisfying. Made with pale and crystal malt with English Goldings and Fuggles hops.
No tasting notes available.