Wednesday, 8 February 2012

Freezing the beer in Battersea

When you're running a beer festival you need to keep the beer cool, typically something like 9-12C. In summer this can require refrigeration, but in a British winter simply turning the heating off is usually enough.

But this week the organisers of the Battersea Beer Festival had to do something they've never done before: ask the hall management to turn the heating ON, as the ale was too chilled and wasn't clearing properly as a result.

Fortunately, they got it done in time, and the beers are generally in excellent condition. As well as a good range of other ales, an addition this year is a separate bar for the strong ales. There wasn't a lot on when I passed by today – just three of the eight casks on the stillage were on sale – and 2pm seemed a tad early for the likes of Buffy's Festival at 9% and Grainstore Nip at 7.3%.

But it's an interesting development, spurred on in large part by the government increasing the tax rate on beers over 7.5% from the usual rip-off rate charged on draught beer in the UK to a new "super-duper utter rip-off" one. I presume that positioning the £4 a pint strong ale next to the £4.40/£6 a pint imported beer makes the former seem less unreasonably priced, although whether that's a good or bad thing to do is debatable.

There's also good ranges of draught German beers, including a tempting 8% Aecht Schlenkerla Eiche Doppelbock (listed here as "Rauchbier Eiche"), and foreign bottled beers, and they're running a couple of "meet the brewer" events – see the website for details.

If you've not been there before, the festival is at the Battersea Arts Centre (the BAC), it runs until Friday and it's easy to get to from Clapham Junction BR.

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