|Burning Sky Plateau
(When we left London last summer, there were 20-25 breweries in the area, up from just two or three not so many years ago. When we came back to London this autumn, it's nudging 50-odd breweries. Maybe we should go away again - we might be able to get it over 100!)
The festivals take place at the Egham United Services Club, which is open to CAMRA members and guests as well as to club members. It's a great venue and very supportive of the event. Indeed, as the festival organiser noted, with that many handpumps it's pretty much a permanent beer festival...
As to the beers, there were two or three standouts, only partly defined by how well they cut through the foul cold that has me sneezing and sniffling all over the place. I was especially impressed by Black & White IPA, which is the latest London Brewers Alliance special, a black IPA brewed at By The Horns, and then by two beers from Kent Brewery, which I don't remember meeting before despite it being three years old.
The first of these was Elderflower Saison, a beautifully complex, crisp and floral Belgian-style pale ale. The second was Dead of Night, a variation on Kent's highly regarded 5.5% porter that includes cherries - the result is dry, herby and ashy-bitter, with a noticeable red fruit tang.
But perhaps the most impressive of the lot was Plateau, a pale ale from a brand new - as in, so new they only started brewing about six weeks ago - Sussex brewery called Burning Sky. Just 3.5% ABV, Plateau features a mix of American and New Zealand hops for a spicy and tropical fruit character, and is immensely refreshing and satisfying, drinking considerably above its strength, if you know what I mean.