Happy Birthday to me…and Cotteridge Wines. Yes, July 8th 2016 the sun shone on the righteous as they sat in the beer garden to partake in a mighty selection of beers, many brewed specially for this momentous event. Jaz and Kal had decided to ease themselves into this 2 day beer extravaganza by keeping the numbers small for the first session between 12 and 4 on Friday in case there were any problems with the beers, and of course the first one I chose was fobbing, but Kal was patient and so I got to start with a 40Ft Brewing Melon Drop which was light and refreshing and a pretty perfect start. I spent most of the afternoon with Ross Lang, assistant manager at the Craven Arms,
and it was a very pleasant relaxing few hours. I didn’t feel any compunction to try all 18 beers on offer although there were a few I had my eye on, such as beer #2, Tropical Cannonball by Magic Rock, and as I said on Untappd “does what it says on the tin, Cannonball with extra fruity punch” and it seemed to be a big hit with most of the drinkers there. Next up was Lord Nelson – Sauvignon Blanc Oaked Edition from Elusive Brewing which I was really looking forward to because I had strong memories of having the original at the 2014 Birmingham Beer Bash, great use of the Nelson Sauvin hop. And as luck would have it Andy Parker of Elusive was there so I had a brief chat with him about the new brewery and the beer he had brought to the festival. It had taken a lot longer than he expected for him to find premises, and he reckons he lost almost a year before finding his site in Finchhampstead in Berkshire, but 10 brews in he said although it is a lot of hard work he is loving it. I was particularly impressed that for his first brew in the new premises he went for a smoked ruby mild. Lord Nelson was a homebrew recipe that ended up being a fully fledged collaboration with Weird Beard once Greg from the brewery had tasted it. It is now in it’s 3rd iteration and has got a little stronger and for this special version he soaked some oak chips in a bottle of Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc for a week, and then put the chips into a hop sack and popped it in the corny keg…and yes it worked really well, had a subtle wine taste, and tart fruit. Look forward to try more Elusive beers over the next few months.
Next it was time for a Summer Fruits Oatmeal Pale (Cotteridge 21st Birthday) from Twisted Barrel, and talking with Andy was Richie from the brewery so I asked how this came about. The original beer is a tap house exclusive but for this special version they just siphoned some off, aged it on a selection of summer fruit, and then put it back in a keg to give a pleasantly dry but fruity beer. I am a fan of what Rich and Carl are doing and this was another great addition to their roster. The beers continued flowing including the Wiper and True Saison Mosaic which was quite hoppy with a spicy undertone, the Weird Beard blend and the Beavertown Yam Yam, a bretted ale which I didn’t think was too bretty if that makes sense. In between these I had a brief chat with Sam and the boys from Siren who were obviously having a great time and have a long history with, Cotteridge…I think they may’ve been exaggerating when they said Kal was waiting on the brewery doorstep for them when they first opened, but as mentioned in a previous blog they continue to have a good relationship with former head brewer Ryan Witter as well as the new team. For the birthday they brewed a DIPA with pineapple, lime, mint and chillies which unfortunately I didn’t get to sample and the people that did gave it a few mixed reviews on Untappd, but it sounds like it was a wild concoction. This also applies to the name Superkalandjazalisticexpialidocious done especially as a challenge to see if they could fit it all on the beer board. I finished the session with Cloudwaters Deep Breath which you could almost call a super charged black and tan, mixing a Red Wine barrel aged stout with V3 DIPA. So all in all an excellent way to spend the birthday.
And then the next day I did it all over again with Deb, and it had the added bonus of the Original Patty Men being there serving their rather excellent burgers. So more beer was consumed and much verbiage was waffled away. The beers included 21st Century Breakfast from Steel City, a grapefruit and orange pale ale which was stunning in it’s simplicity, Mango Lassi by Northern Alchemy, Brodies Chunky Monkey stout which I’d had before but it is delightful with it’s combination of chocolate and banana, and Figgy Bastard, another concoction from Gaz at Mad Hatter in Liverpool. This latter seemed to be one of the standouts for everyone at the evening session and was going down far too easily for a 13% beer, great combination of flavours. Deb really enjoyed the social aspect of the evening which was very laid back and chatted with a few new friends that have been made bonding over beer including Steve Nicholls and Louise and Karl McCormack, plus she was pleasantly surprised when a complete stranger shared a bottle of beer with her…it was that kind of friendly night. And the beer in question was Siren Barrel Aged Life is a Peach, so result since she did share it with me.
A few days later I popped back and had a brief chat, and a couple of beers natch, with Kal to see how it went and he told me he thought it had been a very successful weekend, and was particularly impressed with what he called the “brilliant atmosphere” and happy to see so many people chilling and talking over the whole weekend. He said the extra pumps they put on all worked ok for the most part as did the queuing system, and I think one of the things that made it most special was the family involvement with Jaz and his wife manning the front and Kal and his girls out back, and boy do they all work hard. I do remember at one point Sam from Siren getting behind the bar to help so Kal could have a cigarette break and I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone smoke one so fast. So, what a great birthday weekend, roll on number 22…for them not me 🙂