Wednesday, 24 February 2016

Banchory Beer Festival: Beer @ the Barn

After working alongside a craft beer festival last year you'd think my tatsebuds would have succumbed to enjoying a beer on the odd occasion. Unfortunately not. So when I was invited along to review the Winter Banchory Beer Festival at Woodend Barn in Banchory of all places (how would you have guessed!?) to enjoy some beery banter, I decided it would only be fair to drag my beer-loving boyfriend along to ensure I could give a honest, well-rounded view on the festival's offering.

Running over Friday and Saturday (12-13 Feb), we decided to attend the Saturday evening session which kicked off around 6.30pm, although, we didn't arrive until nearer 8pm. Met by two friendly door staff who quickly explained the token system and handed over our festival programme, we immediately set off on a hunt to purchase our tokens and get stuck into the shenanigans. Already pretty busy - with no seats available - we were off to a good start attendance wise. Now, to find the bar...
Of course my first tipple was going to be gin, and who other than local gin distillery, Porter's Gin. Accompanied with an artisan lemonade, the drinks offering was something I was very much looking forward to indulging in heavily. My date for the night opted for Cromarty Brewing Co's Brewed Awakening 4.7% ABV coffee stout, a very positive start from the drinks game.

Local band, The Funcy Pieces, played some pretty soulful and chilled out music, consisting of a number of different covers which the crowds seemed to enjoy.

On to the next brew...Isle of Harris gin accompanied by Walter Gregor Tonic (Scotland's first ever tonic) with pieces of grapefruit to garnish. Sweet yet crisp, this delicious gin was a major highlight of my evening, and a gin I will most definitely be purchasing in the very near future.
A major foodie, I was expecting a little more variety for the food offering. Although I love a curry, well I'm a korma gal actually, I've started to become accustomed to adding hot sauce to my homemade dishes. However, when drinking gin, cider and rum, I'm unsure if it was just me, but curry was not on my mind...

A few hours later, with rumbling bellies, we decided to take the plunge and ordered some chicken pakora as it was as close to something stodgy, (which I was craving badly) that I was going to get. The pakora was nice, and the mint and lime dip, as well the hot sauces on the side were also pretty tasty, however, sadly the same couldn't be said for the naan. Stale and a little too dry for my liking, we decided to leave the naan to drown in its saucy sorrows. Sorry naan!
Back to the important stuff, the drinks. I've been a big fan of the lads at Dark Matter and everything they've achieved over the past year. Scotland's only rum distillery, the spicy liquid gold Dark Matter produces consists of a little bit of spice and all things nice. This stuff is definitely worth a try if you haven't got your lips around it yet. My date decided to opt for a number of different stouts and beers consisting of Six Degrees North's Honey Bee Good 6% ABV belgian style brew, Alchemy's 4% ABV IPA, Citra Burst, Cromarty Brewing Co's  4% ABV blonde, Happy Chappy, and many other delicious tipples.
Oh, and we can't forget Farmer Jim's Rootin Tootin 4% ABV raspberry and ginger cider. Beer fanatic I am not, however, this flavoured cider was right up my street. A grand winter warmer, and the perfect fit for the beer festival. I also rated their cute branding with Farmer Jim and his pig, adorable.
Spotted: We even made a guest appearance in the festival programme from the Inverurie Beer Festival, which we attended back in September last year!

The set up in the main room, where the live acts were performing, was decorated well with hay bales and fairy lights adding to the festival's ambiance. All of the bars were well staffed and we didn't have to wait long for a drink, which I think a lot of individuals appreciated greatly. The only thing I would say is that the second room, which is usually used as an art gallery throughout the day, was a little too clinical for me, making me feel like I was in some sort of wacky hospital room with hay bales as beds, and a gin and beer bar to keep you sane. To be honest, that doesn't sound so bad...However, with regards to the second room I think it may have been difficult for the guys to do much more with it due to its original purpose at the venue, who knows, just some food for thought I guess...
Taking refuge from the busy dance floor in the main room, we sat in the moment jiving away to the final act of the evening, The Mad Ferret Band, before our taxi whisked us away from the Beer @ the Barn madness. And what beery Banchory madness it was.

All in all the festival was a great success and I've heard many a good review from others who attended. I've also heard the Summer festival is AWESOME and a must attend.

Big thanks to the festival organisers, Mungo and Guy Finlayson for their hospitality at the festival and for inviting me along. A grand festival showcasing some great Scottish and international produce.  Looking forward to the summer festival and some serious out-doors fun. Keep an eye on the festival website for updates on future events.

  For Now...

Just Julia
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