My new camera takes reasonable videos. On Saturday I let my son Andrew video the Bokbier Festival. He seems to enjoy his role as my cameraman.
I missed the Bokbier Festival last year. We were on holiday in Tunisia. (Where there was a suprisingly good German-style brewpub - Golfbräu just a couple of hundred metres from our hotel. Me and their Dunkles became well-acquainted during the course of the week.) When I'm not off on holiday, I feel obliged to go to the festival. Even though it's often been a disappointment.
What didn't I like about it:
- loud music
- clouds of fag smoke
- lack of seating
- infected beer
- beer in just one style
Apart from that, it was perfect.
So my expectations weren't all that high last Saturday. I got there at opening time - noon. Crowds are another thing I don't like. And queueing for my beer. That's why I turn up early. First pleasant surprise: there was a no smoking room! Finally. That's one crossed off the list.
Inside the main hall it was too early for the aural assault of amplified music. But to make up for the lack of a live band, they were pumping out the sort of horrible Dutch pub music you hear on the Rembrandtsplein. Luckily it wasn't audible where we were sitting. There were still far too few chairs, but I didn't care because me and the kids had one each. That's another one sort-of crossed off.
It wasn't just me and the kids. I'd arranged to meet John Clarke (a schoolfriend of my brother, sorry, the schoolfriend of my brother) and John Hein (kind providor of photos for my pub guides). It's always handy to have a few extra pairs of eyes to watch Alexei. I don't want him chewing his glass again.
I like nothing better than reading about what someone else has been drinking. So here's what I tried at the festival:
Jopen Bock: liquorice, dates, raisins. Nice and fruity. Quite tasty. 7/10
De Molen Borefts Bok: very nice. A little roasty and a bit hoppy. 8/10
Phoenix Bok: a bit too fizzy, malty in a nutty Münchner sort of way. I thought it tasted bottom-fermented and it is. Like a traditional Dutch Bok before they were sweetened.
Mahr's Heller Bock: nice change of pace, fiercely hoppy with a biscuity malt base. Drinktastic. 9/10
Polderbok: bit bland and yeasty. It's homebrewed and it tastes like it. Not off, but not very interesting either. 3/10
Schlenkerla Urbock: heaven in a glass. 9.9999999/10
SNAB Ijsbok: like madeira cake without the flour. 8/10
SNAB Ezelenbok: a top-fermented try at a classic Dutch Bok. Tasty but unspectacular.
Molen Winterbok: rich and sweet but complex. Like sweet sherry with added sugar. 8/10
Pelgrim Bok: tastes a bit on the turn. Too cold and too fizzy. 4/10
Beck Bock: amber Bock with fruit and hops. 7/10
Not one infected beer. Most were even pretty good. I suppose that's anther crossed off. Oh yes, and the German beers were quite different in style - pale, amber, schwarz and smoked. Maybe I can even cross off one more item on my hate list.
I've saved the best until last. There was an excellent bookstall at the festival. I didn't realise quite how good until I got home and had chance to look at "A Bottle of Guinness Please" properly. Page 71. Something I've been searching for, but feared I would never find: the Guinness grists from 1883. More about that tomorrow.