When we first started doing this, a lot of people came up to me and said “Dr. Quaff, I like that you are reviewing pubs, but you will make sure you also check out the quality of beer at cheese festivals, won’t you?”. Well duh. Obviously.
So today I duly headed down to the Blue Collar Cheese Festival to sample some ales from the Blue Collar Bar. You can get two types of beer here – Brew Dog ales, and Blue Collar’s own beer. Well, we’ve already done Brew Dog, so obviously I had to try the Blue Collar Beer.
There are three Blue Collar beers on offer – the unimaginatively named Blue Collar Lager, the annoying to ask for Goodsize Eh?, which is an IPA. Seriously, how are you meant to ask for that – are you meant to put on an Aussie accent or something. And lastly, Ekuanot Session Ale, presumably named after the Ekuanot hops. It’s only 3.4%, so could be good for lunch time if you can pronounce it. In the interests of proper research though, I tried a Goodsize Eh?, which I suspect is actually brewed by Tap Social Movement in Oxford. It was served in a plastic glass, but tasted nice – clean with a light flavour. It definitely hit the spot on a warm sunny day. All pints cost £5. A little on the high side, but it’s easy to pay for at an outside bar.
Outside? Yes, the Blue Collar events are in Forbury Gardens. On a nice sunny lunch time it’s perfect, and buzzing with young office workers undoubtedly looking for avocado and cheese or something like that. However, the event carries on late, and the ratio of beer to cheese swings more towards the beer as the evening goes on, with a second bar opening for Brew Dog in cans. The Cheese even finishes on Sunday 22nd April, but Blue Collar run plenty of events later in the year too, so still plenty of opportunities to get down there and sample their beer. There’s a small tent for when the weather is not so good, and a few tables, chairs, bales of hay, and a table made of a reclaimed door (yea, it’s all a bit hipster). Most people find themselves having to sit on the grass though, so gents, perhaps avoid the Crockett style white trousers just this once.
But it’s a cheese festival, not a beer festival. Will someone dunk a Babybel in your pint, or force you to drink a pint of nacho cheese? No. There’s no compulsion to buy food if you just fancy a pint. Bring your own pork scratchings though – it’s a cheese festival, not a magical animal festival.
If I was some sort of Reading based food reviewer, I would undoubtedly rave about the Cheese Festival. But I’m not. This is about beer. So how does the festival stand up to that scrutiny?
|Beer Quality||Very nice beer – tasted fresh and had settled nicely. Surprisingly good for an outside bar.|
|Beer Selection||3 beers on tap. Not brilliant numbers wise, but what they had was good. No Fosters and John Smiths here. Also, backup from Brew Dog is most welcome.|
|Drink vs Food||It’s a food themed event, but no pressure to buy food – if you just went along to drink beer, no-one would bat an eyelid.|
|Music||Quiet middle of the road music coming from the bar. It did the job of creating atmosphere without ruining the atmosphere.|
|Snacks||Technically speaking, none. But then again, a plate of Nachos and Cheese for a fiver, so perhaps not so bad.|
|Atmosphere||Chilled on a sunny day. On a grey day, not a place to spend a long time|
|Price||£5 for everything. Priced for ease of paying|
|Space||The whole gardens, so always room to sit. Unfortunately that means on the ground.|