Yesterday's trip to Durham Brewery was interesting for several reasons. First of all, it finally proved beyond doubt that it genuinely is possible to fail to organise a piss-up in a brewery. If any of you are interested in replicating this seemingly impossible task, I recommend taking our organisers tack, and show up half an hour before the brewery opens, without arranging a start time for the tour, and then complain loudly that "this is how I always do it".
Once the tour began (mercifully, the tour group scheduled for half ten failed to materialise, otherwise we'd have been entirely screwed), things became interesting for another reason.
Obviously, that reason was beer. I learned much about its history and methods of preparation yesterday - or at least I did during the first hour of the tour before inebriation set in and I mainly learned how to balance a point glass on a forklift without it falling off - but none of it was so interesting I feel compelled to report it. Instead, I thought I'd mention some of the beers I tried yesterday, along with some of the drinks I sampled during the Beer Festival this week as well (particularly the cider we found that was so sweet and strong that it was like being punched and then hugged by the same apple).
Dabinett Apple (Millwhite) 8.0%: A cider so sweet and strong it's like being punched and then hugged by the same apple. Recommended in small doses, or as a preparation for major surgery.
Midnight Special (Mr. Whitehead) 5.0%: If I'm going to put up with a perry so comparatively bitter and thick, then it damn well better be stronger than 5 percent. Not impressed.
Thistly Cross (Thistly Cross) 7.2%: This is more like it. Ridiculously strong and tasting of sweet apple juice, this could perhaps be considered almost like an alco-pop for adolescent gorillas. Nothing sold out faster, and I can see why.
Inspiration (Durham) 3.2%: Quite tasty, but smells worryingly of pesto. I am told that's just what hops smell like, but it gave me a craving for pasta, cheese and pine nuts. Guess that's better than kebabs, at least.
White Magic (Durham) 7.0%: Made with palis otter malt. Incapable of appreciating this after learning it is not farmed by actual otters.
Temptation (Durham) 10.0%: Unbelievably thick, and quite sweet. Like drinking liquefied coffee chocolates mixed with brandy. Absolutely delicious for about three swallows, at which point you feel less like you're quaffing beer, and more like you're trying to tarmac the inside of your stomach.
Genesis (Durham) 4.3%: Spent whole time trying to think of Phil Collins joke. Failed.
Magus (Durham) 3.8%: The one you want. Seriously.