The beer festival at the BlackE, beside the fabulous Chinese Arch, was billed as a Christmas beer festival – to be fair it is December and there was plenty of examples of winter beers available – so yeah let’s call it a Christmas Beer Festival then. Ho Ho Ho! I didn’t visit as a punter but worked at two sessions (Thursday night and Friday afternoon).
This was yet another of the ever expanding number of beer festivals provided by our mates over at the beloved local brewery – Liverpool Organic Brewery (LOB). The venue is an interesting one, many visitors and staff were either first time visitors or hadn’t been there for years. It was a nice size and layout with its relatively small square floor space meaning you could get between your choices of beers with ease and the further two floors of balconies overlooking the beer floor meant for a nice alternative view and plenty of seating.
The beers were sold using the tried and tested voucher system with just half pint size glasses (plastic – I think because technically it’s a music venue? – I’ll have to check that). All the drinks were sold at the same price – a fair enough £1.50 a half. There was a £2 discount of a £12 sheet of vouchers for card carrying members of CAMRA.
There were almost 150 beers on offer with a good range from pale citrus, to traditional bitters, through to some great porters and stouts. There were plenty of ciders and perries on offer too – though I failed to partake in these myself.
Food was provided by the ever present LOB favourites Peninsula Pies. Yum! And LOBs own Russian Imperial Stout Scouse (£5 seemed a bit steep but it did smell gorgeous). Unfortunately, although in the programme, there was no Liverpool Cheese Company this time – I missed me Stilton!
In addition to 19 beers from Liverpool Organic other Breweries represented included;
- Bristol Beer Factory,
- Great Heck,
- Liverpool Craft,
- Purple Moose,
- Tiny Rebel,
- Waen, and
Highlights for me included;
- Acorn – Angus IPA
- Tiny Rebel – Urban IPA
- Wentworth – Plum Pudding Stout
- Rat – Cheating Rat
- Purple Moose – Merry X-Mouse
- Bristol Beer Factory – Independence
Of course there was also Liverpool Organic Brewery’s
- Imperial Russian Stout, and
- Kitty Wilkinson
Unfortunately for a second festival there was a problem with my IPA favourite Shipwreck – which was, at best, described as ‘cloudy’.
There was some top draw music both on the Thursday night and Friday afternoon. Hidden away slightly in the gloom of the 1st floor balcony on Thursday it was Ukulele Uff and Lonesome Dave with their toe tapping c1920s era ukulele and guitar songs. On Friday afternoon it was the Lancashire charms of Dave Owen playing a wide ranging folk based set including several singalong numbers such as Fairytale of New York and Black Velvet Band. Nice stuff!
The festival was very enjoyable to work with so many good beers available and nearly all on very good form. It was a shame that both the Thursday night session and Friday afternoon session were very quiet. Thursday may well have been impacted by the very blustery weather, but I expected there may have been more people there on the Friday afternoon with it being one of the traditional busy Fridays for Christmas Parties and company early finishes. But it wasn’t to be. Maybe the £8 is a little too pricey for people too – especially in town where you may want to just be able to pop in for an hour or two – perhaps a fiver would be a more reasonable threshold (at least for the expected quieter sessions).
That said, I was working at the first Waterloo Beer Festival three years ago and it was similarly poorly attended. Word of mouth and the time traveled now means that Waterloo now sells out and is firmly in the Real Ale Festival Calendar. So maybe next year…
Whether it is deemed a success will be in some part dependent on how busy it was on Friday night and all day Saturday. And how important the festival may be to Mark Hensby and LOBs plans for world domination! 😉
- Nice location and building
- Great music (on all sessions)
- Fabulous range of beers on top form
- Lovely bunch of people working the festival
- Shame (so far) not enough customers (also shame no Stilton et al)