PALE ale, best bitter, IPA – they were all new terms to me, so it was fair to say that I was out of my comfort zone when I went beer tasting at Gloucester Brewery yesterday.
Women are often put off drinking beer because of its image and the way it’s marketed.
They are given the false impression that it is a masculine drink with a generic beer flavour – this couldn’t be further from the truth.
Brewer Tom Fletcher showed me that with so many beers on offer at this year’s Gloucester Beer and Cider Festival, there is bound to be something for everyone.
“People get used to drinking what they drink but it is important to realise that a lot of different flavours can be achieved and if the balance is right for you, it can be a really enjoyable drink,” he said.
Gloucester Brewery experiments with different combinations of hops to produce modern, distinctive and innovative ales.
Tom talked me through five of their popular beers ranging from a 4.2 per cent best bitter to a 6.2 per cent dark IPA.
When tasting beer I, was told to first observe it in terms of its colour and clarity then give it a swirl and smell for sweetness, the roasted character from the malts or the floral, spicy or bitter aromas from the hops.
When taking a sip of the beer, note the flavours.
Different beer styles may have a different mouth-feel with the body ranging from light to heavy and there may be other sensations such as creamy, bubbly or smooth.
We started with the Mariner, an autumnal copper ale with well-balanced nutty flavours, hints of citrus and spice before moving to the 5.2 per cent Galaxy.
This was much fruitier with hints of passion fruit and peaches from its Australian hops.
It is a misconception that dark ales are bitter and too heavy, because the beer I enjoyed the most was the stout-like Dockside Dark – a deep roasted malt character with coffee and chocolate undertones.
Tom said: “Anyone going along to the festival should be open-minded and try everything.
“Look out for aromas that you like and talk to the brewers.”
The CAMRA Gloucester Beer and Cider Festival takes place at Blackfriars Priory today and tomorrow.
There will more than 100 real ales, ciders, perries and beers with hot food and live music.
Tickets are available on the door for £5 and include a free glass. Visit gloucesterbeerfestival.org.uk for more information.
Gloucester Brewery is also hosting a Craft Beer Festival at the brewery from April 18 to April 21, showcasing a selection of speciality ales.