The Great British Beer Festival was a phenomenal gathering of the very best the British beer scene has to offer.
It also played host to a whole load of weird stuff.
From cacao nibs to watercress, brewers at the festival apparently felt the need to add all sorts of bizarre ingredients to their ales. And, for some unknown reason, I felt compelled to give them a try.
Belvoir, Chocs Away 4.3%
Belvoir promises a rich and full-bodied beer, flavoured with cacao nibs, cocao powder, and chocolate syrup.
It’s not rich or full-bodied. What it is, is pure chocolate. It’s a bit like back at boarding school when the kettle was broken and we had to drink Cadbury’s Selects made with cold water.
Despite giving me boarding school flashbacks, Chocs Away was a lot nicer than I was expecting. If there’s a chocoholic in your life who wants to get into beer, this would be a good place to start. If there’s a beer lover in your life, maybe tell them to order something else.
Colchester Brewery, Brazilian Coffee and Vanilla Porter 4.6%
Not content adding just one flavour, Colchester Brewery has mixed both coffee beans and vanilla in with this pitch black porter.
As a result, it smells, tastes, and feels like someone has chilled down a Starbucks vanilla frappadappidoodah.
Once again, I’m surprised by how much I’m enjoying it. The flavours are unusual, but none feels out of place. The balance is honestly pretty amazing, and I find myself tempted to go back for another round.
Cerne Abbas, Watercress Warrior 4.5%
Ah well, you can’t win them all.
I strode into the beer festival with so many grand plans for blog posts. I was going to compare four of the best chocolate beers, three different breakfast stouts, a handful of wheat beers…and three beers made from watercress.
Watercress is one of those vegetables that occasionally gets excessively healthy people very excited on account of being a superfood. It’s packed full of all kinds of vitamins, minerals, and cancer-fighting enzymes. It’s also said to increase virility, which perhaps explains the choice of the decidedly tumescent Cerne Giant on the logo.
Having never seen or even heard of watercress beer before, I was especially intrigued to try them all. And especially disappointed when only one of the three was on rotation. Having tasted the Watercress Warrior, I am now less disappointed the others were off rotation.
Watercress Warrior is pale golden and a little cloudy. It doesn’t really smell of much, despite the inclusion of pepper watercress. That flavour comes through on the tongue, however, along with absolutely nothing else. It’s like drinking a watercress smoothie. But presumably without the benefits for my virility.
Unlike the excited gentleman on the pump clip, I found Watercress Warrior decidedly flaccid.