The now annual Celtic beer festival at St Austell brewery is clearly a major event in the local social calendar. Despite the pouring rain, people were waiting outside in the road river for two or more hours to get in.
Inside were labyrinthine cellars, a music stage and young folk on the pull – a party atmosphere more like a nightclub than a traditional beer festival. We know St Austell can brew, but they can also, most definitely, organise the proverbial P‑up in a B.
With 35+ St Austell brews plus around a hundred from other breweries, we could only start to scratch the surface, particularly as we had to traverse the meat market to get to the more interesting ones. We started with our new favourite, 1913 stout. This has already dropped in strength from when we had it last, which is a little disappointing, but was still tasty, and if this change is a precursor to rolling it out to more local pubs as a Guinness-challenger, then we’re in favour.
At the more experimental end, Smoking Barrel was a refreshing Rauchbier; Bad Habit was a superb 8.5% triple; and Hell Up was a very convincing Alt Bier. There were also beers for the sweet-toothed West Country palate – High Maltage was a turbo-charged HSD, whereas 1851 was a sugary, honeyish pale ale.
As you might expect, everything was in perfect condition – probably the best we’ve ever encountered at a beer festival. Korev lager came across really well, even against more exotic competition, which we put down to freshness.
The only way this festival could be improved (for us) would be to have either a quiet room or even better, a quiet day beforehand for beer geeks to taste all the experimental brews. But maybe that would be contrary to the very essence of this celebratory event.
Full disclosure; we received “VIP” access (cringe) to the festival, which got us in for free, and included a few free pints and grub.