Sausage, So Good – Brandling Villa Sausage & Beer Fest

8 02 2010

Beer and sausages is there no better combination to get you taste buds going? Well, maybe not but in order to test the theory what better event to attend than the Brandling Villa’s Sausage & Beer festival.  You know it made sense.

The event ran from 14th to the 17th January and rather give you a full blow by blow account of the proceeding I thought I would just throw up some photo’s and add a couple of observations filled out with a whole load of waffle.  OK, so what I mean is my memory is pants and I’ve lost my notes…they’re here somewhere but…

The Menu

First off I would like to congratulate Dave Carr, the manager, for putting on the event and making such a success of it, I’m sure it way exceeded his expectations, and also Stewart & Co for providing the wonderful sausages.

Cider Tart γ and I popped in on the Thursday to grab some tea and things were fairly quiet.  A couple of the regular faces were in place already sampling the wares and we partook of a deal which allowed us to try several of the varieties on offer for a damned reasonable price.  We tried sausages made with Durham Temptation, Allendale Beacon Fire and Mordue Workie Ticket amongst others (where are those damned notes?) and every one was great.  So good in fact we bought 3 packs to take home to enjoy later. The Wylam Haugh and Durham Sanctuary were both great and I’m told the ciders were also top notch.  We left after about an hour and a half and a goodly crowd and a great atmosphere was starting to build up

The usual suspects

On Friday we were joined by HH and Cider Tart σ and things were really busy.  It took us about ½ an hour to get served at the sausage counter but the good news was that the quality still up to scratch.  Finding a seat was a bit of an endeavour but we managed to dead man’s shoes a table after only a couple of minutes.  Beers sampled included both the Durham and Wylam again along with the Allendale Golden Plover.  There were other but my notes…well you get the idea.  Strangely the band arrived and appeared to have nowhere set aside to set up so started to erect their PA right in front of the toilet doors and next to one of the exits.  Thankfully sense prevailed and I assume some of the other punters were evicted from their tables to create space.  As things became even busier and the prospect of ever getting served diminished dramatically we decided to cut our loses and head back into town.


So pro’s and con’s?


Great selection of well kept beer.

Wonderful, well priced sausage also available to take home and cook yourself.

Great pub with excellent atmosphere on both nights.


Not enough bar staff to manage the numbers who attended or change barrels quickly.

Ditto for the sausage bar.

Band space needed to be arranged in advance.

In my view the pro’s well outweigh the con’s, many of which were due to Dave’s own admission that he had totally underestimated the number of punters the event would attract.  However everyone took the wait for beer and sausages in good humour, just soaking up and adding to the atmosphere.  I know Dave has more events planned and I doubt he will make the same mistakes again and would heartily recommend anyone to make an effort to attend if they are in the area.


Beer Swap Review – Part 2 of 2

8 02 2010

Well after an enforced lay-off due to family illness and a need to spend some time working on my MSc I’m back and can finally wrap up #beerswap.  In truth I completed this post ages ago and had thought I had posted it already…numpty.

Rebellion Red – Rebellion Brewery, Marlow

Does what it says on the tin and pours into the glass as what looks to be a fairly standard red/brown ruby ale.  The aroma is buttery, in the manner of a heavily oaked Aussie chardonnay, with a toffee apple like sweetness and some light hops to balance things off.  The first mouthful was, well, underwhelming and my first notes were ‘typical, uninspiring, ruby ale…ho-hum’.

Not a great start, eh?  But the Red was just teasing me, playing me for the fool I obviously am.  By the third or fourth mouthful I started to wonder what was going on.  Suddenly I was getting that malty, caramel coming through along with a rounded fruitiness and the hoppy bitterness of the aftertaste was cleansing my palate which was now beginning to crave the next mouthful.  I was really beginning to enjoy this.  OK, so Red isn’t the best thing I’ve ever tasted, not even close, but it was a lovely balanced ruby session ale and ultimately, especially after my first impressions, a very pleasant surprise.

Henley Dark – Lovibonds, Henley-on-Thames

And so I saved what I hoped to be the best until last.  I have for several years now been a dark ale man, so I was particularly looking forward to giving this a try.  The colour was a bit of a surprise and this was more of a deep chestnut colour rather than the black I was expecting (though not sure why I was expecting that).  The aroma was very pleasant, a smokey, caramel sweetness with some spiciness lurking in the background.  Taste wise this was also surprising, a lighter mouth feel than expected and whilst the smokiness and caramel were there the predominant flavour was a sourness not unlike unripe cherries.   This was far from unpleasant but, again, not what I was expecting and reminded me of a mild rather than a porter.  All in all an interesting bottle of beer and fine example of why you shouldn’t make presumptions about what lies within the bottle.  But was it the best of the four? Truth be told I think the one I enjoyed most, for a number of reasons, was the Rebellion Red.

So there we go four brilliant reasons why beerswap is such a damned good idea.  OK, not every bottle hit the mark for me but I really enjoyed tasting stuff I had never come across before and may never have picked up even if I had done.  I had no problems using the Collect+ service although others had a nightmare experience so maybe the postal format needs to be re-examined for future beerswaps.  Thanks have to go to Andy Mogg and Mark Dredge for organising a bunch of errant beer tweeters which must have seemed like herding cats at times, great job guys.

Finally I guess the question has to be asked ‘Would I do this again?’ Hell yes.