We Radicals deputised some fellow ale drinkers, donned our beards and set off for the 1st Kidbrooke Beer and Cider Festival on Friday 02 May. It was held at Charlton Rugby Club in Kidbrooke – don’t worry if that confuses as the festival was well signposted from Kidbrooke station! If you are reading this on 03 May then you can still get down there for the final day. The festival is excellent value with entry costing a mere £2 (£1 for CAMRA members) and most halves around the £1.50 mark. Food is available either from the barbeque (chicken kebab £1!) or the kitchens. The souvenir pint glass was £3 (half and third pints also available, refundable if returned).
The club was an excellent venue (thanks for hosting). Just the right size inside, plenty of space outside, and a rather good portrait of HM the Queen Mother watching over the cider and perry stand. The selection of about 50 ales was excellent. Seasoned festival goers though we are, a couple of SE London breweries (Brick and Brockley) were new to us as were some of the wider world ones. The full list is on the SEL CAMRA website. The volunteers were, as always, friendly and helpful and very active on social media (@selcamrafest).
One Radical was so excited that every beer scored 10/10, although the Woolwich brewed Hop Stuff Pale would have been the winner if he was forced to go up to 11. Another Radical was overwhelmed by the experience and resorted to drinking perry so his scores were null and void. It may have been our excellent selection or blind luck but most of the beers tried (always a half in the pint glass) scored well. The few duds we sampled – Bonum Mild (4), Hastings Best (3), Reedcutter (4) – were a bit tasteless or did not live up to their descriptions. None were from SE London though! Hop Stuff proved popular as always (7 for the Pale and 7.5 for the Renegade), as did the Brick (7.5), Brockley (Pale 7.5, Red 6), Clarkshaws (Hellhound and Dragon Slayer both got a 7), and Late Knights (7). So SE London breweries did us proud. Despite having a scale of 1-10 we Radicals are hard to please and consider 7.5 a high score. A good session ale such as the Brockley Red can get a high score but equally a distinctive ale you may only want a couple of pints of such as the well seasoned Saisonniers from Hop Stuff will also score well.
Further afield the Kent Brewery fared well (7) along with Bank Top (6.5), Bradfield (Farmers Blonde 6), Flipside (high ABV imperial stout 6.5), Mauldons (6.5), Old Dairy (7), Pheonix (aptly named Wobbly Bob 7), Tring (6.5) and Williams Bros (7).
It was a pleasure to attend and thanks again to the volunteers who made the festival a success. We like the small festivals but if there is a good following, who knows where we could be in a few years – Blackheath Halls perhaps?! If, like us, you do like a good ale then the next local festival is in Bexley from 15-17 May. Everyone was a winner, but if we had to decide: