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    Sunday, 17 February 2008

    Merton Winter Beer Festival 2008

    Merton is a small village about five miles from Bicester. It doesn't have a pub but it has plenty of residents who appreciate a good pub and good beer. Therefore twice a year its village hall is home to a beer festival.

    Yesterday I visited the Winter Festival an event which runs from 6pm to 11pm on the Friday, and then all day Saturday from noon. In spite of the rural location and lack of suitable public transport it gets very busy, and with good reason: the beer choice and condition is superb. Added to that the prices are low and the staff and locals are welcoming to the extreme. Nothing was too much for anyone; kettles were boiled to heat my baby's bottles; newspapers were laid out for those who like to read with their pint, and popcorn was on all tables and frequently replenished.

    Mind you, for me it's all about the beer and Fin and crowd did a wonderful job with the selection. Eighteen real ales and half a dozen ciders and perries is about right for a festival of this size, and because the range is suitably small, it might be easy to choose ordinary beers. But no, there were some rare finds, some brand new beers and some very, very highly rated beers. Out of the ten beers I had the lowest score I gave on the RateBeer scale was 3.3, and the highest was 4.5. The stand out beer was Old Chimneys Good King Henry, a delicious Imperial Stout, but very honourable mention needs to go to Oakham Oblivion a superbly hoppy full bodied beer, and Milton Marcus Aurelius, another Imperial Stout.

    The Summer Festival is on 18 and 19 July. I cannot recommend more heartily that you should make every effort to attend.

    1 comment:

    fin said...

    Hi Maieb/Mark

    Many thanks for your kind words, I'm glad that you had a good time. It would be great to see you again in the summer.

    I will aim to keep you informed of things happening at the summer beer festival closer to the time.

    We are going to also have a one-off Belgian Beer Festival in the village, this will be on a slightly smaller scale than our normal festivals and will predominantly feature bottles (though these will be not the sort likely to be seen in your local supermarket) I may be getting one or two Belgian beers on draught as well, stuff like Dupont Saison. Date tbc but likely to be mid/late May.