Just one day to go to the Reading Beer Festival 2018. There are 622 beers listed as of Tuesday, plus 159 ciders, and 126 foreign beers. Even the organisers of the festival don’t come close to trying them all, so how do you decide what to drink? Here’s our top tips
- Your entry includes a free glass, which can be a pint glass or a half pint glass. Nearly everyone gets a pint glass, but that doesn’t mean you have to drink pints. Buying halves means you get to try twice as many beers (thirds are possible too). Also, even though it is marked, the staff aren’t amazing at pouring a half pint in to a pint glass, and you’ll often get a little bonus bit.
- Even if it looks sunny when you head along late afternoon, it will be freezing by 11pm. Don’t wear shorts and flip flops – you will regret it, and your mates will tease you relentlessly for years.
- If you’ve sampled the beer before, unless it is something you really really love, give it a miss. Try something new instead.
- Remember cash? No contactless rounds for you I’m afraid. Get to the cash machine before you get there as your card won’t do you any good on site.
- Don’t be tempted to sit at one spot at the bar all night. You’ll only sample beer from a limited number of breweries if you do that.
- Save some cash for the food. I’m a fan of the hog roast, but there’s also bratwurst, curry, pasties, olives and jerked meat, and even chocolate.
- If you plan on going on Friday or Saturday night, buy a ticket in advance – it’ll save you queuing up for a long time. At other times you can generally walk up and buy a ticket with only a small queue.
- If there is a beer you really must try, don’t wait until the Sunday – often they are running out of the popular beers by then.
- Do some research before you go. You’ll never find the time to read about all of the beers when you are there, so why not check them out in advance on our handy spreadsheet, which lists all the beers, with their untappd rating, and link.
And looking at the untappd reviews, the top beers of the festival are;
|Old Chimneys||Good King Henry||9.0%||Highly acclaimed Imperial Russian Stout.||4.219|
|New Wharf||Session||3.5%||An English and American-style IPA, bursting with fresh citrus, earthy pine and tropical fruit||4.200|
|Staggeringly Good||Little Arms, Big Ambitions||5.0%||Staggeringly Good’s brand new IPA with Mosaic, Citra & Ella hops.||4.161|
Bottom rated beer is Sunset by New Wharf, with a rating of just 2.68. So New Wharf are both highest and lowest. However recent comments imply that they have changed the Sunset beer very much for the better, and the last three ratings were all 4.5. So if you are a fan of fruity Weisse beer, why not check it out and if you like it, help them improve their scores.
And the strongest beers are;
|Vibrant Forest||Umbral Abyss||11.5%||Emerging from the darkest ancestry of Black Oktober, the Abyss rages with oak, brandy and coffee. This giant edifice is a true imperial stout.||4.112|
|Siren Craft||Beast from the East||11.2%||A collaboration with Flying Couch Brewery. This beast of a Triple IPA hit a blizzard of Ekuanot, Mosaic, Columbus, Simcoe and Chinook.||3.884|
|Brecon Brewing||Mind Bleach||10.0%||Our multi award winning, dangerously drinkable Imperial Black IPA. Black as sin, bursting with hops, and more than capable of removing the little voices in your head. Not to be taken aurally.||3.786|
I’m not normally a fan of the strongest beers, but I might have a go at that Beast from the East – Siren Craft rarely go wrong for me. And at the other end of the scale, yet again it’s Sunset by New Wharf at 3%. Both the weakest and the lowest rated? Surely the Untappd reviewers can’t be influenced by that?
Have fun at the festival, and look out for a review later in the week.