Sunday, 6 December 2009

Not making a Pigs Ear of it!

Hackney Beer festival
Well that was fun: on Friday we wandered along to Hackney mare St for the “Pigs Ear beer festival” all part of the celebrations of PB’s beer writer of the year award. The Pigs Ear bit is rhyming slang for erm beer (yeah me neither). It was being held at the Ocean (I’ve not been there since it first opened and we went to see Godspeed You Black Emperor) and it looks a bit tired and knackered after only a few years.  Oh and don't let the \m/  sub Motorhead Logo put you off it's not that way at all.

I am always slightly wary about beer festivals mainly because they are organised by Camra a worthy organisation in many ways but they do rate pubs mainly on the beer they sell which isn’t my main deciding factor by a long chalk. Also as our friend JP pointed out the festival bit tends to get a bit lost often. My other main gripe about Beer festivals is the lack of seats, I’ve always hated drinking standing up. Thankfully we got a seat fairly quickly and a near perfect time was had by all.

Amongst the many good things were as follows: my jolly & funny friends, PB and JP wandering off and coming back with excellent beers and the friendly atmosphere. Curiously because we were sat near the “foreign”* beer bar we had a lot of lagers etc from German, Danish which were all in good condition and nicely chilled. Fraid I can’t remember their names I’m not that bothered about that sort of thing also many of them you are unlikely to see again in a hurry. We did have some nice British stouts and milds too. The odd thing about beer festivals is that unless you really want to its quite easy not to drink too much if like us you stick to tasty halves.

Another good thing was the mix of people there, they weren’t a complete mix of Hackney types but it was one of the more diverse beer festivals I’ve been to. There was an inclusive mix of young and old, black and Asian people etc and most surprisingly lots of women of all kinds! The air was filled with the hubbub of people chatting and laughing and apart from the odd ticker** most were probably talking about their works Xmas do, X-factor you know anything but beer. Anyway if you in the area next year at this time I would wander along to Pig ear it’s a very jolly and tasty night out.

* Camra attitude towards lager is a bit tedious and technical and lost on the lay person they claim to want to attract. They are not keen on fizzy beers basically and can’t see the difference between a fine Bavarian craft lager and Hoffmeister.

**”Tickers” are beer obsessive similar to train spotters and twitchers who have lists of beer they taste and tick off, there is general feeling that their hobby may get in the way of them just enjoying you know drinking beer!


Paul Garrard said...

I'm with you on the seating front - I suspect that it is a tricky juggling act having the right amount of seating but I hate having to stand.

Re: "Camra attitude towards lager is a bit tedious and technical and lost on the lay person" - not really, it is very simple and nothing to do with lager as such. You have two sorts of beer basically live beer and dead beer. CAMRA like the live beer!

BLTP said...

Fair enough Paul but I do think it's very high handed of Camra to tell places like Germany that their beer is fake or nor real because they want to serve it from a keg.
And like I say most lay people don't give a stuff and these are the people Camra claim they want to win over. Also on friday some of the ales we tried were just plain flat and lifeless. Just because a beer is real doesn't mean it's any good and this dogma would praise bad live beers over excellent pasteurised beers.
How a beer tastes should be the ultimate standard, how it's made is interesting but ultimately isn't the sole standard of worth. Camra dogma also stupidly dismissess excellent London beers like those made by meantime. I think it's time camra built on their heritage and engaged with other brewing tradition no less real in a postitive way.