Thursday 22nd – Sunday 25th January saw the Criterion, Leicester hosting a Burns Night beer festival, featuring a solid selection of ales from our tartan brothers across the border.
Having previewed the selection a few days prior to the event, both the ‘Monster and I were keen to get over for this one; the line up included no less than six offerings from that most elusive of breweries, Clockwork, and as a result the beer hound in us could smell the scoops on the breeze…
Clockwork is a brewery which I must confess I had no real knowledge of – hardly surprising given that it operates from a solitary brewpub in Glasgow, where the brewery output is consumed and sold exclusively on the premises. How the Criterion had managed this coup I do not know, but much kudos to them for it.
Unfortunately, due to logistical issues, the Clockwork beers did not arrive until after the festival (they’re currently racked up in the cellar, and I’m awaiting a text from one of my contacts on the staff to advise that they’re tapped and ready), so on the Thursday we busied ourselves with the rest of the selection.
The selection was rounded off with one brew apiece from Harviestoun (Haggis Hunter, 4.3%) and Houston (Texas, 4.3%) and a somewhat calculated offering of 80 Shilling (4.1%) and Deuchars IPA (3.8%) from the behemoth that is Caledonian.
Of these we sampled all bar the Caledonian duo (just too commercial), the wheat beer (just not our bag) and the Goldihops and Red Smiddy (both already scooped). The condition on all was very good, and the beers themselves were generally good – the only real let down was the Perle, a lacklustre, thin and watery offering brewed using this lager hop variety.
Beers on the day which merit particular note were the Trashy Blond, a cracking amber number with a spicy hopped palate redolent with apple and citrus notes and a deliciously dry and bitter finish, the Zeitgeist with its big sweet malt hit, roasted and chocolate tones and lightly fruited hop edge, and the Haggis Hunter for its tangy, fruity malts and late, bitter hop finish.
All in all, the team at the Critter pulled off a good show, and I look forward to sampling the Clockwork brews when they become available.
If there is one gripe to be made it would have to be in respect of pricing – due to “costly delivery charges from Scotland” the prices on all the ales had been increased by up to 20p, resulting in a pint of 3.8% beer selling for £2.50. Still, given the economic climate I guess this is to be expected really!
For those with an interest, the Clockwork ales will be Amber IPA (3.8%), Red Alt (4.4%), Oregon IPA (5.5) and Strong Ale (6.0%) and two keg beers, Original Lager (4.8%) and Hazy Daze Seriously Ginger (5.0%)