Considering Bath has such a fine array of real ale pubs, and is surrounded by plenty of quality craft breweries, it’s a disappointment that its beer festivals aren’t up to much. The biggest annual event is held in the city’s pavilion – a large, soulless hall with over bright strip lights and scruffy decor – with beer served in curious plastic half pint pots*. But it’s our local festival, and there are decent beers and ciders on offer, so we rounded up a few guest reviewers** and paid it a visit to taste their wares.
This year the organisers went with ‘a northern theme’, so beers ‘from Yorkshire and the surrounded counties’ battled for attention with the best of the local breweries, with a total of 54 brews on offer. The 34 ciders came from anywhere that apples grow.
Our top 5 Bath Beer Festival beers
1. Holgate Red – Truefitt Brewing Company
A delicious American style ale with a lovely hoppy finish.
2. 10th Anniversary – Jarrow Brewery
Jarrow, Tyne & Wear, 5.0%
A fresh and creamy dark amber beer with a good boozy kick.
3. Flint Knapper – Ramsbury Brewery
Marlborough, Wiltshire, 4.2%
An easy-to-drink, delicately malty, amber ale. My scribbled tasting notes say “very wet”.
4. Original – Northumberland Brewery
Bedlington, Northumberland, 4.3%
The pick of the porters – a full flavoured, nutty beer.
5. Coopers WPA – Wickwar Brewing Company
Wickwar, Gloucestershire, 3.5%
Light and hoppy with a whiff of citrus. Amazingly flavoured for such a weak beer.
Our top 3 Bath Beer Festival ciders
1. Tricky Cider (medium) – The Tricky Cider Company
Taunton, Somerset, 6.5%
A stunningly good cider. Clean, sharp and appley.
2. Coombe Raider – Ciderniks
Kintbury, Berkshire, 6.5%
A dry, slightly acidic cider with a plummy roundness. Good stuff.
3. Farmers Pride – Gwent y Ddraig
A cloudy, juicy, dangerously drinkable cider.
*The use of plastic caused CAMRA to abandon their long association with the festival. So they started their own. We prefer glass, but it’s not the end of the world, chaps…
**One of our guest reviewers is Andy Jones of Devilfish Brewery. For this reason we have not considered Devilfish ales in our top five, but greatly appreciated his expert insight into some of his brewing rivals beers