12 days of IPA: The Ones At The Festival

There's a certain something about a CAMRA beer festival. The best of beer, the worst of beer. Venues that make you feel welcome, well-cellared beer, interesting food. Or municipal shit-holes, staff with body odour, rank ale, stale sarnies.

When one of your tried and trusted local fests shifts venue, you've got to give it a go. Truth be told, there can't be many members sad to see the Derby Winter festival move out of the Darwin Suite in the Assembly Rooms. A titchy venue, beers appearing at random due to lack of bar space, almost zero seating. This year; new broom, new room - and, boy, what a room.

The Roundhouse defies photography. Well, that's my excuse. It used to be a loco shed; it's now where college students get parked during term-time as a common room. It's large. It's round. Get the picture? No? Tough. I could show you pics like this:or this:

or even this:

... but I don't think they're fair representations.

In summary: great beer on the Friday, some of which alcofrolicchap poured over other people. Great beer and cheese on the Saturday; most of the beer being totally random replacements as almost all of the advertised beer had run out on Friday. When the random beer comprises the likes of Liverpool Organic Kitty Wilkinson (proper chocolate & vanilla) and Brewdog 5am Saint (stupendously-Nelson-Sauvin-ed amber ale), then I'm a happy camper.

But this was supposed to be about IPAs. There were several, but there's no point in discussing all of them. There was only one worth talking about.

Buxton Axe Edge.

For, once upon a time, a brewer called James Kemp did move to Buxton and did wonderful things. In particular, he dumped a shed-load of Amarillo, Citra and Nelson Sauvin into Axe Edge. And, lo, amongst the topers of Derbyshire there was much rejoicing.

There are two schools of though about beer-festival drinking. One is that you should start at low ABV and work your way northward. The other says you should start on the beer you really want to drink, regardless of strength, because you never know how long it'll be on for.

Which is why I drank Buxton Axe Edge like a loon on the Friday. And, amazingly, on the Saturday as well - albeit for just three blissful halves.

So; props to Geoff and JK at Buxton. And to Ralf for putting on a Derby Winter fest in a superb venue, albeit the only one I've known where the queue for the gents was longer than the queue for the ladies by a factor of 30 to none. And to the various drunkards I spent time with. And to my wife, who did what she had to do to ensure no-one else got to drink as much Oliver's Medium Perry as her. And to Morgan's of the Eagle Market, Derby, for the best cheese platter ever seen at a beer fest.

Today's Obviously Made Up Fact About IPA:

Hodgson invented IPA in 1744 when he had a dream about exporting a pale ale.
Sadly, he forgot the dream and had to wait many years for severe déjà vu to take hold
before he could recapture the recipe.

Thanks to Richard Mackney for letting me steal that first photo