The 2010 Carmarthen Beer Festival - A Recap

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.

Craig looking weary that there's still two days to go after the Thursday.
Craig looking weary that there's still two days to go after the Thursday.
Yours truly making a cheesy grin while trying to take on Oakham's Attila.
Yours truly making a cheesy grin while trying to take on Oakham's Attila.
Hefin already feeling the strain.
Hefin already feeling the strain.
The group on early Friday afternoon.
The group on early Friday afternoon. From left to right: Al, Lee, Hefin, Steve & Craig.
Al proudly holding up his trophy, the 2010 Carmarthen Beer Festival Tankard!
Al proudly holding up his trophy, the 2010 Carmarthen Beer Festival Tankard!

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!

  1. Black Sheep - Bitter
  2. Bowman - Swift One
  3. Brecon - Ysbryd Y Ddraig
  4. Brecon - Cribyn
  5. Brecon - Rambler's Ruin
  6. Brew Dog - Trashy Blonde
  7. Bryncelyn - Oh Boy
  8. Bryncelyn - Buddy Marvelous
  9. Bullmastiff - Son of a Bitch
  10. Castle Rock - Harvest Pale
  11. Crouch Vale - Amarillo
  12. Dark Star - Hophead
  13. Elgoods - Black Dog Mild
  14. Evan Evans - Cwrw
  15. Evan Evans - Warrior
  16. Evan Evans - HBA
  17. Evan Evans - Cwrw X
  18. Facers - Daves Hoppy Beer
  19. Heart of Wales - Aur Cymru
  20. Hopback - Crop Circle
  21. Hopback - Summer Lightning
  22. Itchen Valley - Fagins
  23. Jacobi - Light Ale
  24. Kingstone - Gold
  25. Loddon - Hoppit
  26. Newmans - Red Castle Cream
  27. Oakham - Attila
  28. Otley - O5 Gold
  29. Preseli Brewery - Baggywrinkle
  30. Purple Moose - Dark Side of the Moose
  31. Rhymney - Export
  32. Shepherd Neame - Spitfire
  33. Swansea - Three Cliffs Gold
  34. Swansea - Deep Slade Dark
  35. Teignworthy - Top Dog
  36. Timothy Taylor - Landlord
  37. Tatton - Best
  38. Tomos Watkin - Cwrw Haf
  39. Tomos Watkin - BB
  40. Tomos Watkin - OSB
  41. Wye Valley - Butty Bach

Black Sheep - Bitter

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.

6.25/10

Bowman - Swift One

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.

6.5/10

Brecon - Ysbryd Y Ddraig

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.

6.25/10

Brecon - Cribyn

A very pale straw coloured aromatic Best Bitter, brewed with Northdown, Challenger and Bramling Cross Hops.

Tasty, the best in the Breconshire Brewery repoitiore.

7.25/10

Brecon - Rambler's Ruin

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?

6/10

Brew Dog - Trashy Blonde

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.

6.75/10

Bryncelyn - Oh Boy

Golden beer with fruit and hop aroma. A refreshing burst of hops and fruit and underlying malt.

A little weak on the palate.

6/10

Bryncelyn - Buddy Marvelous

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.

6.25/10

Bullmastiff - Son of a Bitch

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.

8/10

Castle Rock - Harvest Pale

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.

7/10

Crouch Vale - Amarillo

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.

6.75/10

Dark Star - Hophead

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.

5.75/10

Elgoods - Black Dog Mild

A traditional dark mild, well balanced with a full roast flavour.

Unassumingly rich yet smooth. What a mild should be about.

7/10

Evan Evans - Cwrw

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.

6.75/10

Evan Evans - Warrior

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.

6.75/10

Evan Evans - HBA

New premium beer. Dark amber coloured, full-bodied with a delicious dry biscuit malt body and distinctive fresh fruity palate.

No tasting notes available.

No rating available.

Evan Evans - Cwrw X

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.

6.75/10

Facers - Daves Hoppy Beer

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.

7.25/10

Heart of Wales - Aur Cymru

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.

6.5/10

Hopback - Crop Circle

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.

5.75/10

Hopback - Summer Lightning

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.

5.5/10

Itchen Valley - Fagins

A light brown, well balanced beer with fine malts, dry citrus flavours and well-hopped.

Forgettable amount of light malt.

5.75/10

Jacobi - Light Ale

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!

7.5/10

Kingstone - Gold

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.

6.75/10

Loddon - Hoppit

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.

Apple!

6.75/10

Newmans - Red Castle Cream

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.

8.25/10

Oakham - Attila

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.

5.5/10

Otley - O5 Gold

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.

6.5/10

Preseli Brewery - Baggywrinkle

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.

6.25/10

Purple Moose - Dark Side of the Moose

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.

8/10

Rhymney - Export

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.

7.5/10

Shepherd Neame - Spitfire

Late arrival.

No tasting notes available.

6.5/10

Swansea - Three Cliffs Gold

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.

7.25

Swansea - Deep Slade Dark

Dark bitter with a roasted chocolate flavour.

Malty.

6.25/10

Teignworthy - Top Dog

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.

7/10

Timothy Taylor - Landlord

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.

7.25/10

Tatton - Best

Late arrival.

Sturdy, easy going MOR bitter.

6/10

Tomos Watkin - Cwrw Haf

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.

7/10

Tomos Watkin - BB

Late arrival.

Tomos Watkin is onto a winner with this Ale.

7.25/10

Tomos Watkin - OSB

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.

6.75/10

Wye Valley - Butty Bach

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.

N/A