Monday, 25 February 2013

Club Festival Scoops Rare Beers

Orpington Liberal Club seems an unlikely venue to hold a beer festival, but as a small group of West Kent CAMRA members found, when they attended on Saturday afternoon, it turned out to be a really good event. We had been alerted to the festival, via Facebook, by club chairman Duncan Borrowman, and were previously aware that cask ale features very high on the clubs' agenda. Three of us therefore took the opportunity to make the 20 minute journey to Orpington, by train, on one of the coldest days of the winter so far to see what was on offer.

Because of the freezing temperatures we were glad that Orpington Liberal Club was just a five minute walk, downhill from the station. The club itself wasn't that easy to spot as it's basically a converted 1930's suburban house, with a period style garage attached on one side, but once in we announced our presence at the bar and collected, and paid for, our pre-ordered tickets.

There were around twenty beers on offer, the majority of which were housed in the adjoining function room. With the exception of an American IPA from Adnams, all the beers were locally sourced from breweries in London, Surrey, Kent, Sussex and Essex. They were divided into the following categories: Milds; Traditional English Bitters and IPA's; Golden Ales; American IPA; American Brown Ales; Black IPA's; Porters and Stouts. Amongst the beers were a number of rarities and one-offs, including #4 American Brown Ale from Shamblemoose Brewery - the first beer, from a new brewery, that was launching at the festival; another American Brown Ale, called Altered States, this time from Kent Brewery of Birling, launched the previous week and the 2013 recipe for Gardenia Mild, from Kissingate Brewery, again launching at the festival. The latter has rosemary and rose petals added to the cask to give a floral and somewhat unique flavour. There was also a couple of beers from new brewery Clarence & Frederick of Croydon. All in all some pretty interesting and unusual beers.

For much of the afternoon there was a variety of different folk acts playing in the function room. Some were quite good, others were not, so we adjourned next door, where we found ourselves a bit of space literally propping up the bar. We made regular forays into the other room to re-fill our glasses, and late on to procure some solid refreshment in the form of cheeseburgers.

Shortly after six o'clock, another of our regular members arrived, freezing cold from sitting on the terraces watching Charlton Athletic lose to Nottingham Forest. Having previously lived in Orpington, and been a member of the local CAMRA branch, Don was able to introduce us to a group from Bromley CAMRA, who were sitting at a nearby table; they even had a few empty chairs and invitied us to join them. After standing for a couple of hours, it was nice to take the weight of ones feet!

I'm not quite certain as to the exact time we left, but I think it was around 9pm. It had certainly been a good festival, with some new and interesting beers to sample. I found the following beers particularly noteworthy: Brentwood Marvellous Maple Mild, Clarence & Frederick's Golden Ale, Portobello Pale,
Shamblemoose #4 American Brown Ale, Franklin's Pudding Stout 
and Ramsgate Oatmeal Stout. There were three others I would liked to have tried: A Head in a Hat - Titfer, Canterbury Ales Black IPA and Late Knights Hairy Dog Black IPA. However, as my head told me next morning I had sampled enough, so it was probably just as well that I ended up saving these beers for another day!


Anonymous said...


Paul Bailey said...

Well spotted, anonymous, and now corrected.

Duncan Borrowman said...

Thanks for the review Paul.
Good to see you all in.
I'm actually the club chairman, not bar manager. The whole place is run by volunteers. Everyone who served you beer and Louise who cooked your food were all volunteers. The musicians played literally for beer tokens.

AndrewM said...

Good work Paul. It's a tough job but someone's got to do it!

Paul Bailey said...

Hi Duncan. First, apologies for getting your title wrong. Seeing you behind the bar for much of the afternnon we just naturally assumed you were the man in charge!

We all thoroughly enjoyed the festival, and were impressed by the beers you had on offer. A lot of thought had gone into their selection, so please accept our thanks for providing the opportunity to sample these hard to get beers. Please also pass on our thanks to all the other hard working volunteers who helped make the event so successful.

btw. Did you manage to sell out by Sunday?

Orpington Liberal Club said...

We have some cask ends on gravity in our temperature controlled stockroom. I have the last pint of Gardenia in my hand