Back in my home city of Liverpool, I proudly strode across the impressive plaza in front of St. George's Hall on my way to a beer festival hosted by Liverpool Organic Brewery. It was a very temperate Friday night and, on making my way into the main hall, it is hard to take it all in. A building of staggering grandeur and stature, the extensive racks of barrels that ran around the perimeter almost drifted into the background. What was hard to avoid was the cacophony of noise from the beery conversations reverberating around the hall. Long benches and beer hall style tables lent themselves to a communal feel and a friendly atmosphere although it did make it difficult at times to negotiate the crowds and there were many bottlenecks that formed as there was limited standing room inside. Probably taking a table or two out would solve the problem and make the crowds flow more efficiently. Particularly because the toilets were a long walk away.
Thankfully, there was no problem getting beer. The choice was overwhelming but the good descriptions in the brochure helped to navigate my way around the hall. On key benefit of the festival was the ability to get a taste of a beer before committing to buy a half pint of it. This meant many more people were being adventurous and there were inevitably more satisfied customers. It also meant that it reduced the amount of beer being left or thrown away.
There were many great beers to try but a special mention for the Nelson Mandela by AD HOP Brewing which is a 4.9% Session IPA hopped with Nelson Sauvin and J17. On my first sip, I recommended it immediately to the guy who was standing next to me who quipped back 'It should be free that'.
Another mention for Oracle by Salopian Brewery. Described as a 4% sunflower gold citrusy ale, it was excellent. Amongst my friends, it has become a staple and it is definitely a beer that they can't go past if it's on tap.
It was a fun night which was brought to an end by the grim reaper who strolls around the elevated organ pipes to indicate last orders and then appears once again to signal the end of service. He was roundly booed by the crowd on both his short appearances and was a useful device to ensure a jovial end to an excellent night. There was an great atmosphere and despite the absence of any entertainment everyone was enjoying the beer, food and conversation in one of England's finest buildings. Although the locals are used to drinking in pubs with beautifully ornate interiors, it is pretty special to sink some great brews in the mighty St. George's Hall.