Festival Tip No. 1: sit near Zak Avery. We didn't even have to lob anything over at his table to get him to pass round the bottle of Toccalmatto Zona Cesarini IPA he had been clutching. It's a zesty, zingy affair where the hops provide not only citric flavours, but bursts of violet too. Quite the best Parmesan IPA I've had, cheers Zak. It bookended a tasting of mostly quite odd continental beers, with the other side supported by Jandrain-Jandrenouille's IV Saison -- a properly spicy, though rather clean-tasting and pale, saison. Where's the funk?
Dutch rauchbier has generally been a bit of a closed book to me, so I gave the Emelisse Rauchbier a whirl and rather enjoyed it: heavy, fizzy, but with that big bacony kick you get with the best from Bamburg. There was much buzz about Drie Horne's Bananatana, deriving mostly from the name, I suspect. It's made from both bananas and sultanas though doesn't taste much like either: melons were actually the fruit it most put me in mind of.
I haven't been seeing much love on the blogosphere for the work of Rome's Revelation Cat brewery. I stand by my opinion that lambic plus high-alpha hops equals interesting deliciousness (rather than, as Barm observes, the sensation of waking up in the night and vomiting). I really enjoyed their De Molen-brewed Milk Mild, a cleansingly fizzy beer with lots of big coffee flavours.
But my champion beer out of this lot, and one of the very few I'd made a mental note to get hold of, was De Molen's own Fris & Frutig lambic. It's seriously funky, with that ripe and rural farmyard smell coming from the alluring dark red cloudy body. On tasting the funk yields a little to allow the rich and sweet purple fruit flavours to come through -- a tart and tangy contrast which stops the wild yeast from dominating completely. Balanced? No, not really. Enjoyable? Yes, definitely.
The evening rolled on; the hordes of trade session beer geeks gave way to the first of the public ticket-bearers. It was the first year I didn't have to run back to Heathrow for the evening plane home and I was in no rush anywhere. So I was quite up for it when someone (Séan? Richie? Sarah?) had an idea...