BEERS AND BREWERIES

Atmospheric image of lines and lines of casks

This year's festival will again offer over one thousand different casks of real ales, the largest selection of any festival in the world and covering the widest possible range of beer styles, including many modern variations usually referred to as "craft beers", such as new England IPAs, American Imperial stouts, Berliner- style Weiss beers alongside many classical styles and old favourites.

In addition, our "craft beer" bar will have a range of rare keykeg beers lined up, some of which have never been seen in the city before.
For vegans, once again many beers will not be fined (or cleared) using isinglass, this will be marked on the cask and in the programme. We will also seek to offer a selection of gluten free beers, which again will be clearly marked.

More information on the beers to go on sale will be added here as the hard work of orderuing the beers progresses.

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Close up of casks used at 2018 Beer Festival

What are Isinglass Finings?

At the Festival you will notice numerous beers marked as “unfined” and will no doubt be wanting to know what this means. Well it means they are suitable for vegans but there is a lot more to it than that and omnivores will be just as interested to sample these interesting brews.

Given enough time beer will clear naturally, but there is often not time to allow it to settle in the cellar for a couple of weeks or more, while nature does it’s thing. So it has long been the practice to add a suspension of tropical fish swim bladders mixed with sodium metabisulphite (a disinfectant and preservative). This is called isinglass and the majority of beers at our festival will be cleared by this method. The process is known as fining the beer.

However it is becoming accepted by some drinkers that beer does not have to be crystal clear to taste good. We accept that a wheat beer is going to be cloudy and we perhaps expect a very hoppy IPA to have some hop haze – so what’s the difference? Nothing, there is nothing special about crystal clear beer and naturally conditioned, hazy beer has loads of flavour. An alternative to fining the beer would be to filter it, this will clear any haze and it is a vegan friendly method. But filtering also strips out flavour, the one thing brewers have worked hard to put in - ever wondered why mass produced keg beers and lagers are tasteless compared to cask beer?!  So will hazy beer give you a bad stomach? Not if the haziness is caused by yeast suspension, as in our unfined beers (unless you’re allergic to yeast). Brewers yeast is a natural product and a source of Vitamin B and protein. So look out for beers marked as “Unfined” at our festival and give them a try, we think you will agree it is worth it. And of course these beers are suitable for vegans to enjoy.

Pedantic note - finings other than isinglass are available, these alternative finings are not made with animal products, they are chemical in nature and are not quite as affective in clearing beer. A small number of beers will be fined by this process but for convenience these are also shown as "unfined". So "unfined" is our shorthand for "not fined with isinglass" and so suitable for vegans.

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As you might expect from the branch that pioneered CAMRA's LocAle scheme we showcased beer from our local breweries and in 2018 over 25% of the volume of all beer consumed came from breweries located within 20 miles of the festival.

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The 2018 Beer Festival Beer Listings can be found in .pdf or Word or Excel Spreadsheet format by clicking on the appropriate links. The 2018 list of Gluten Free Beers is available to download here
The 2018 Beer Festival Programme can be downloaded in .pdf format from the Matelot Marketing website here

Page refreshed : 21st August 2019

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Image(s) on this page information details and credits : Thanks to Andy Sales for the glorious stax of casks images from the 2018 Festival!