[All words in bold clickable to reach the topics online]
On Wednesday, July 8th, three fellow CAMRA members joined me for a tasting. The beers were the WooHa tasting case ordered over Brew2You the week before. Nationally, these were planned for a Red (On)Lion tutored tasting on June 30th, but having seen the strengths, 3.8%, 5.0%x2, 6.0% and 6.2%, I decided that was a bit much for a Tuesday, especially the evening before our local Virtual Social and Kelchner Brewery tasting.
So I invited the ‘lads’, with whom I’d shared the previous Moor Beer and Small Beer Red (On)Lion tastings virtually, to my house. It was post-July 4th after all and my wife and I are lucky enough, or planned well ahead, to have an extending garden table, so could achieve the 1 metre+ social distancing. On a roll, I further invited the quiz winner from the said Virtual Social to join us and collect his prize. What a nice late afternoon it turned out to be! Rain stopped play after nearly 2 hours, but we’d done everything except score the beers by then.
I’ve added my ranking in the order we tasted, (kind of GBG rules even though they are bottled), and if others would like to add, please do so in the comments – whether you were in the garden chez Barrett, joined the Red (On)Lion tasting, or have had this case yourself.
Hello Friday 3.8% Session Pale Ale 4.0
Northern Mischief 5.0% Scottish Craft Lager 3.5
Rauch ‘n’ Roll 5.0% Rich Smoky Porter 4.5
Rogue Clan 6.0% Scotch Ale 4.0
Hop Pinata 6.2% Hop Packed IPA 3.5
This wasn’t an official CAMRA branch event, as noted, but we took the opportunity to award the prize, that James from Small Beer and I had kind of invented in a phone call as a result of me having a spare case from a previous tasting, thanks to their diligence and generosity.
Pictured in the first shot are Bryan Bird, Pubs Officer, Peter Barnes, ‘ordinary’ CAMRA member who won our July 1st quiz, myself and Brian Mason, Social Secretary. (They’re happy, honestly but camera-shy and thirsty!)
Further credit to the auto-photographer, my impressive new Samsung Galaxy Note 10+ (four lenses!) on its first outing! I figured it out in the end! [these are low resolution shots. Originals are stunning quality!]
Not planned to be separate, but just due to their availability after work, there followed a second session with my two best friends locally, not CAMRA members, but who always come to Hitchin or Stevenage Festivals to support me (and drink!). We repeated the WooHa tasting and, spontaneously, as we were enjoying ourselves, I got out the remaining Small Beer pack and we did that tasting too!
The Brand Pack, (attached, click here), that Scott McCallion from WooHa had kindly sent that afternoon, after my Facebook Messenger request for tasting notes, significantly improved the tasting. Brian in the first and one of my friends in the second, from near Inverness, (authentic accent much better than my or even Brian’s attempt in tasting 1), read out each set of tasting notes.
None of us in the second session, myself included, knew what IBU and EBC values meant, (all familiar with ABV and I was brought up on OG), but Wikipedia provided a great article so now we know! https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beer_measurement. I used the mini-tasting notes on the Small Beer bottles.
Bryan and Brian have been enormously supportive over Zoom and in person at arm’s length during lockdown as we tried, with some success if I might say myself, to keep beer high in people’s minds in the area, visiting those great independent pubs that were offering takeaway and ordering from independent local breweries who were delivering.
I wrote to the breweries and a few CAMRA staff afterwards:-
“Full credit and thanks to the support from CAMRA, including Val, Katie and Beth with whom I’ve engaged over phone, email and the Red (On)Lion, and many more, for their initiatives like #PullingTogether, Brew2You and the conversion of the already-planned Podcast: Pubs. Pints. People. into a lockdown joy.
CAMRA Central at large and the active volunteers, Felix, on the Small Beer Red (On)Lion tasting, his partner James over the phone several times and Scott responding swiftly yesterday, plus Marisa and Chris from Kelchner Brewery agreeing to do a local Zoom tasting on July 1st from their kitchen (and they were fabulous!), and the Moor Beer tasting, our first experience of tasting over Zoom, show just why I’m enjoying this voluntary role – what fabulous people there are in this business and in CAMRA locally!
Well done all! Uplifting is abosolutely what people need and you are all delivering!”
Publicity Officer (tough role, believe me)