Saturday, 20 September 2014

Wharf Chambers Beer Festival

Last night, Mr Hatter and I visited Wharf Chambers in Leeds to try out their all-vegan beer festival. It was open to all (whereas you usually have to be a member to go), and was £4 entry which included a souvenir glass and free half pint of your choice. What a bargain! The drinks were paid for on a ticketing basis, with a ticket getting you one half-pint, at a cost of £1.50.

"Wharf Chambers is a member's club run by a workers' co-operative. This means the members get a say in how it is run, the staff have equal say and it is not tied into any large pub chain or brewery. Since opening, it has become a leading light for the alternative scene in Leeds, hosting many unique nights and specialist events."

This is me with one of my ciders, just so you can see how truly dinky the free glasses were. I love them!

I'm not a beer drinker but The Real Cider Company were representing us apple-lovers with a selection of ciders that I wanted to try.

(I'm going to apologise now for the quality of some of the photos in this article - the lighting was funny, and getting a decent picture was tough depending on where we were sitting!)

The first cider I tried was called Fanny's Bramble, from Sandfords Orchard in Devon - "4.0%, a fine apple and blackberry cider; sweet." I had picked this out from the list on the website before we arrived as one I definitely wanted to try and I was not disappointed. I love fruity ciders but it seems to hard to determine whether or not they are vegan these days. This one was lovely and fruity, and I would definitely choose it again. You can't really see the colour in this pretty candle-light but it was a very nice shade!

Next on my list was a perry called Oliver's Perry, from Olivers in Hertfordshire - "6.5%, medium dry perry - rich feel but easy to quaff; made with pears in it." This was definitely easy to quaff! Nice and light, I would choose this again as it was another loverly cider! You can see it pictured here with some food, which I will speak about later...

Next I tried Fusion from Pure North in Yorkshire - "6.5%, a blend of medium & dry ciders for a distinctive, clean, crisp cider with a deep apple flavour." I enjoyed the first few sips of this one but then decided I didn't really like it after all. I think the taste was a bit too full-on and bitter for me, but I'm not sure if that's because this was the first drink we had after our food. Here's a blurry photo of our dinky glasses, with one of Mr Hatter's beers behind mine.

Last up was Janet's Jungle Juice from Westcrofts in Somerset - "6.0%, said to be an ideal choice for those just starting to understand what ciders can be; rounded & fruity". This one was okay but not one of my favourites. I think that because I adored the first two I had, the last two just really couldn't live up to them unfortunately. Here you can actually see the design on the free glass...

Onto the food...

The posters advertised that hot food would be available on both the Friday and Saturday, and I saw mention of burgers and hot dogs online, so we were looking forward to a yummy vegan tea and went straight there after work. However, the girl behind the bar just looked at me blankly when I asked about hot food and said that they were only doing burgers on the Saturday and they just had some snacks for the Friday:

We were really looking for something substantial so we each ordered the "4 for £4" deal, not really knowing what to expect. We got a lot for our £4! I must admit though, I'm not entirely sure which piece was which. The bread pakora is that huge triangle and was basically a deep-fried spicy sandwich. I didn't really understand it and ended up giving half to Mr Hatter as it just did not compute. The samosa was obvious, and had very tasty pastry. As for the veg cutlet and aloo tikki, I'm really not sure which was which. At a guess I would say that the large pale round snack was the aloo tikki but I don't really know. It seemed like a lot of the fillings were very similar, and I was a little disappointed with the range of flavours. Also, the snacks were sort of lukewarm rather than hot as advertised. I imagine if we had ordered much later, they would have already been cold. They were also rather greasy. Maybe I'm just being picky because I was already disgruntled about not getting a burger/hot dog and having no other real choice in what I ate, but I wasn't overly thrilled by my dinner.

All in all though, it was a great evening and if they decide to do another all-vegan beer festival next year I will come back and sample the cider - but maybe I'll eat before I come next time.

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