Gaustalle-Brau Natrub Zoiglbier (5.8%) - very slightly hazy, gold, hint of wildness in the aroma. Great texture, slightly heavy, slightly sweet, perfumed, fruity, big bitterness building towards a grassy finish. Great.
Mont Saleve Sorachi Bitter (2.5%) - hazy peach colour, classic Sorachi aroma (oily coconut) but somehow a tasty beer emerges from the Sorachi slickness. Enjoyable orange peel character emerges from the oiliness, before a big, big bitter finish. Good.
Buxton Wild Boar (5.7%) - tropical fruit nose, diesely undertones. Lovely balance of fruitiness, dryness and bitterness. Excellent.
This is such an unusual festival, this year spread across two sites a couple of hundred yards apart.The road between the new brewery and the old mill is a constant procession of people parading from one to the other, glass of beer in hand, crossing roads, all without incident.
Jester King Wytchmaker (7.3%) - hazy copper colour, spicy hop nose, toffee and pepper. Sweet on the palate, spicy pepper and oranges. A funky rye-driven farmhouse saison. Very good.
Buxton Tsar Bomba (9.5%) - Tsar with an old cultured strain of brett. Lush, smooth and complex, intense espresso mocha with a tickle of brett. Excellent.
Buxton Axe Edge (6.8%) - I can smell this from the tabletop two feet away. Lychees, passion fruit, diesel. Slick and sweet, touch of alcohol mid-palate, then a long and sweetly perfumed finish. Excellent.
At the old mill, a woodwind quintet strikes up, sounding for all the world like the backing band for a 'Debut'-era Bjork Unplugged session. All around them, people drink great beer and chat. The quintet are all dressed in freshly ironed white clothes, a single unit, an island of beautifully syncopated music, an oasis of cool concentration among the polite bacchanals.
Thornbridge Aussie Summer Ale (5%) - pin-bright, golden, softly fruity aroma, tropical hints ont he palate and nose, Classic Thornbridge. Made from Victoria's Secret hops - only 200kg in the world this year, of which Thornbridge got 30kg. Good.
Del Ducato Via Emilia (5%) - is there a hint of green gold about this, or is it just a trick of the mind? Noble hop character all the way through, but perfectly in balance, FOr me, a text-book pilsner. Brilliantly hoppy, but perfectly balanced. Very good.
Mont Saleve Blanche (5%) - neither as hazy nor as aromatic as you might want from a biere blanche,but hints of lemon barley water on the nose and palate, faintly cat-pissy. Doesn't really have much drinkability or moreishness. Oddly bitter finish. Not much cop, in all honesty.
Day two arrives, brisk and bright, with cartoon cotton wool clouds scudding across a Simpsons-blue sky. Everywhere people bustle about, on Saturday chores, on foot, on bikes so large they need to be climbed down from at a red light. A woman takes the lead off her chocolate Labrador, and in gentle guttural Dutch urges it onto the grass verge for a pee.
Alvinne Freaky (3.8%) - hazy copper colour, wild nose, thin body, wild tart finish. I don't think I'm a fan of their Morpheus yeast.
Del Ducato New Morning Saison (6%) - slightly yoghurty lactic aroma alongside classic saison spiciness. Pinprick carbonation, savoury celery quality. Burst of gently perfumed brett in the finish. Excellent.
Del Ducato Masochist IPA (6.5%) - hazy orange gold, tangerine aroma, tangerine palate, tangerine finish. Unsophisticated, but very good.
Bodegraven is such a sleepy suburban town that I'm struggling to see how it fits in with the mainly urban phenomenon of "craft beer". And yet people have travelled from all over the world to be here for a couple of days of low-key, almost inconspicuous beer geeking. All human life is here, and a few other forms besides, from the pot-bellied local guy, to the chi-chi Euro-femme, to hipsters of all ages and nationalities arriving on Saturday to be disappointed by Mikkeller having sold out of beer already.
Haandbryggeriet Sur Megge (8%) - peachy gold, tartly fruity nose, peach, lemons, honey, mano, pineapple, a total riot of fruit. Tart finish, faintly nutty, dry cider, more fruit. Absurdly good, monumentally good, actually indescribably good [my beer of the festival]
Narke Coffee Porter - [no note]
Kernel Topaz IPA - what to say? It's good.
ACCELERATED DRINKING PROGRAMME including Kernel Imperial Brown Stout (excellent) [it actually says this in my notebook. IN CAPS]
The Tulip Hotel, 2am Sunday morning: woken by a raucous party in the room next door. Is it an overspill from Saturday night hotel bar antics, or is it a bottle-sampling party. Sleep. Wake. Is that Craig's voice? Is that the Spanish guy I spoke to earlier? Is someone smoking? I hope the fire alarm doesn't go off.