Nicholsons Rugby Ale Festival
From the 18th of September until the 4th of October Nicholson’s pubs will be running an autumn beer festival across the UK. Nicholsons Rugby Festival is timed to coincide with the Rugby World Cup in London. No doubt much beer would have been consumed anyway, but every little helps!
Nicholsons is an old pub chain, first started in 1873. Now owning 80 pubs across the country they have some truly historic and traditional premises dotted across London. The Coal Hole on the Strand for example has been trading since 1780.
Nicholsons pride themselves on quality cask ales, from many different breweries, selling more than 4,500,000 pints of it each year. They also understand the need to support smaller producers, the microbreweries, and we are moving into exciting times for quality cask and craft beer in the UK.
The Beer festival will be offering a core of 11 specially chosen beers from the Grain to Glass competition run by Nicholsons.
The Grain to Glass competition pits brewers against each other, giving each brewery a country from the Rugby World cup and a style of beer, they then had 45 minutes to plan their beer and give it a name. These were the beers we were offered to try on press night, with a short talk given by each brewer about what they tried to achieve, and the individual tastes and aromas they created.
Press night offered up 5 of the beers to taste, which had been matched to food in a pairing manner similar to wine. If you’ve ever tried more than a couple of different draught or on-tap beers you’ll know they can be very different in their tastes and the pairing idea is exactly the same as with wine. The 5 beers we tasted were; Urupari from the Welsh Celt brewery, Rising Sun from the London based Redemption brewery, the All Blondes from Skinners brewery, Cornwall, Cross the line from the Stewart brewery, Scotland. And finally, Haka Roo from Whychwood brewery in Oxfordshire. All were individually matched and we sampled them with a variety of foods from Spicy sausages through to Macaroni and cheese.
I’d spoken previously with Chris Seabrook of The Harviestoun brewery about the craft beer industry in the UK currently, and he felt it was an amazing time to be involved in brewing right now. So much is going on, and so many good beers are being brewed all over the country. It was estimated that there were now 1400 individual brewers now, a level not seen since the 1940s! It was also mentioned on this evening that finally the tide has turned for the Pub industry in the UK, and less are closing against those that are opening. This has to be good news, and Nicholsons are clearly at the forefront of Public house Quality.
Nicholsons has moved smartly into the digital age as well despite its long history, with the “Nicholsons Hop circle App” available on both iOS and Android. The app is a loyalty and reward app as well as a guide to their pubs and beers.
Did you know Tony Hadley, yes the Tony Hadley of Spandau Ballet brewed beer? I didn’t! But he does…. and it’s good too… and is one of the 14 golden ales in the festival. You’ve probably guessed by now… it’s called “Hadley’s Gold”. Within this autumn festival is a beer created by the nutty boys of Madness as well! Aptly named “Night Boat”. Most Nicholsons pub offer great food as well, and also a great range of artisan gins, part of their long history.
The Beer festival is free, just find your pub (using the app) and start sampling.