Thursday, 26 April 2012

Paisley Beer Festival, day one

It’s that time of year again – the annual Paisley Beer Festival opened last night. It’s the biggest beer festival in Scotland and only ten minutes from Glasgow on the train.

I volunteer every year now and I went down in the evening to help out. Working at a festival is almost as much fun as visiting one. You notice the difference, though, when you meet up with your friends at the end of the night and they’re all rat-arsed whereas you’ve hardly had a chance to drink because you were so busy.

There have been a few changes this year. The festival is split into two halls because of the shape of the venue. In the past the Scottish Bar was in the smaller hall and the English Bar in the larger. This year for the first time the Scottish Bar is in the main hall. These days there are so many Scottish breweries that this move was long overdue; in previous years you could barely move in the packed Scottish Bar.

I was on the Foreign Bar last night. I’ve never worked on it before, but it makes sense, as I can read the labels on the German beers. Pouring the draught beers by air pressure takes a bit of getting used to. You have to be careful with it or there’s foam everywhere. It’s worth the time and effort though, to get some proper lager with a nice head on it.

Last night we had Jever Pils and Affligem Blonde on draught. When I arrived there was still some Boon Kriek left, but it didn’t last long. Neither did the Schumacher Alt we replaced it with.

Around eight we started pouring Andechser Spezial Hell. This mighty 5.8% lager is rarely seen on draught even in Bavaria, and proved so popular that I was busy for a solid half hour pouring glass after glass of it.

Near the end of the evening we put on St Georgen Kellerbier – there might be some left today if you’re lucky.

We also sold a ton of Girardin Framboise Kulmbacher Kapuziner Weißbier, but very little as yet of the lovely Tegernseer Spezial and Mühlen Kölsch. I have been encouraging people to try my favourite beer in the world, Schlenkerla Märzen, and nobody has spat it out yet.

I did manage to snatch a few sips of beer here and there. I was pleased to discover the beer from new Livingston-based start-up Alechemy was in good form. Their Five Sisters is a nicely bitter amber beer and a really good showing from an outfit that’s only been brewing commercially for a month; ironically it was in better nick than it had been at the brewery’s own launch event last week in Edinburgh.

The biggest surprise of the night was when I wandered over to the English Bar and had a taste of Theakston’s Best Bitter from the wooden cask. You could really taste the oak of the cask, which permeates the poor little 3.5% beer giving it all sorts of whisky-like flavours. I’m not having a laugh here; Theakston’s may be unfashionable among beer nerds but they should give this one a go – several Theakston beers are available from the wood (I haven’t yet tested the other casks for oakiness).

Note to self: don't work quite so hard tonight and leave time for a few scoops.

I am informed there will be draught Weihenstephaner Korbinian tonight.

The Paisley Beer Festival runs until Saturday and it’s £5 (£3 CAMRA members) to get in (includes re-admission on subsequent days). The hashtag is #pbf12.


  1. Head brewer of [REDACTED] to us on a brewery tour: "That's one of our wooden casks. We only supply it like that to one pub. Great if you like your beer warm, flat and vinegary."

    Always been pretty happy with anything from Theakstons on cask, in a "nothing to dislike" kind of way.

    (Ignoring all your talk of German beer as we're not getting to go abroad this year. Bah.)

  2. Is the St. Georgenbräu the regular keg stuff you get down here at and near the brewery or some sort of specially brewed or conditioned "real lager" version? I've heard that the latter is what makes it to the GBBF. The former, meh.

  3. Nick, it is bright beer in British terms. It’s not conditioned in the keg. As far as I know it’s the same as the beer sold in Franken. We dispense it with an air pump, not with CO2.

  4. Bailey, the cask might be newly coopered, which would explain both the oakiness and the lack of vinegariness.

  5. Well i will be working to bar tomorrow, and going tonight, interested to see the new lay out