It used to be hard being a beer geek in Gloucestershire, reading with envy the Untapped check-ins from your friends living in the craft beer hot spots of the UK. Whilst they were drinking the rare and the wonderful on draft every weekend at acclaimed craft bars whilst you're sat at home deciding between the latest Cloudwater you had to book the day off work and catch two busses just to get, or the badly aged Westvleteren 12 you paid £30 for from eBay.
At least there was a time when life was this bleak, now thanks to some amazing bars and bottleshops opening up, stocking some of the best beer from around the globe, and excellent, innovative breweries putting Gloucestershire on the map, things are on the way up. Recently I've been enjoying some exciting events and incredible beer for Cheltenham and Gloucester Beer Week, a series of tastings, tap take-overs and ale trails organised by multi-award winning bottle shop, Favourite Beers, in collaboration with some of the best bars and breweries across Cheltenham and Gloucester.
One of the highlights for me has been the Barista Beers tasting event at Jessop House, hosted by Gloucester brewery - Velvet Owl, a showcase of five different beers utilising different types of coffee in interesting and innovative ways, paired with small plates for each brew to enhance the taste. These included CapHeine from Sirens Project Barista range (the last keg in existence no less), a raspberry, hibiscus and coffee kettle sour paired with raspberry pâte de fruit, and Little Joe, from Velvet Owl themselves, a pale table beer with lightly roasted Ethiopian coffee paired with strawberry, melon and lime sherbert.
Another highlight from the week was when two of the highest fuss breweries making magic right now joined forces for the Verdant tap takeover at the Deya taproom, launching their new collaborative DIPA - Jacob the Canary as well as the 8% New England IPA - At 3AM in Copenhagen, a beautifully complex and juicy beer made as a collaboration by the who's who of murky NE hopbombs!
Also at the Deya taproom was another event not to be missed, Mark Tranter, of Burning Sky Brewery tasting on mixed culture fermentation, barrel ageing and sour beer, including such Burning Sky beauties as their Saison á La Provision and their Flanders Red, proving why they're one of the most exciting UK breweries operating right now.
Other notable events included the Rainbow Project keg launch at the Wild Beer bar - seven different beers to represent the colours of the rainbow, each brewed as collaborations between a UK and an American brewery - the introduction to Scandinavian beer tasting at Favourite Beers, including samples from To Øl, Omnipollo and Mikkeller and the launch of the CGBW collaborative beer to commemorate the week, a beautifully balanced and aggressively spiced Saison by the likes of Gloucester Brewery, Deya, Hillside, Prescott Ales and Velvet Owl.
So another Cheltenham and Gloucester beer week has passed us by and it's been better than ever before, with a sizable turn out at every event really showing the incline of a craft presence in Gloucestershire. So next time you're in the area, make sure to drop into the oft forgotten quaint little beer geek hub of Cheltenham.