Maybe so; having chosen to brave public transport away from the Giants and the throng of Liverpool city centre, the scrum was not totally avoided by having to use the train. Thankfully, the Freshfield Hotel is only a relative stone’s throw from the station on the Southport arm of the Northern Line. It is not a free house, although you would be forgiven in thinking that given the sheer number of guest cask pumps greeting you at the bar. We won’t hold it being a Greene King pub against it too much when they obtain (as standard) a very broad and well-handled line up of ales at any given time. A festival occasion gives further reason to rejoice, given that the equation of Friday plus good beer, plus big range of beers, plus good weather, plus beer garden and a few friends usually equals a pretty satisfying experience.
Over the course of the week, the Festival boasted 88 ales, 8 ciders and 5 craft beers on, although not at the same time unfortunately. A similar issue experienced at the Liverpool Beer Expo was that many of the beers sound enticing, or indeed are ones some spotters want to tick off their lists, but they had simply already gone or were waiting to be tapped on another session. There were still enough beers to get excited about on the three bars, although having paid £15 for a sheet of tokens (to be used at the two temporary festival bars only), people had to pay the normal rate at the main pub bar for anything dispensed there. Although slightly confusing at first, an understandable arrangement to keep the pub’s normal operations flowing. A slightly more annoying arrangement was the lack of inclusion of the craft beers dispensed from keg in the Festival token system, although the programme clearly states they are included, the staff informed me that because they were ‘slightly more expensive beers’, they weren’t included in the token system. To be fair, there were plenty of beers to get through without venturing to the main bar for a while, or at least until 9pm when things started to run out and sadly, not get replaced.
The beers on offer were, in the main very good, featuring notably amongst others, Blackjack, Marble, Darkstar, Saltaire, Oakham, Thornbridge and Tiny Rebel. The Marble ‘Pint’ was a welcome balm for a thirsty boy, providing the usual Marble competency of flavour with a refreshing body; this was swiftly chased with a pint of their ‘Summer’ beer which went down equally easily. As ever, the Saltaire beers were excellent, with several pints of the festival favourite, ‘Blackberry Cascade’ consumed within the group, but the ‘Cascade Pale Ale’ was another very enjoyable beer met with pleased palates.
The enthusiasm of the staff was commendable in both the main bar and on the temporary festival installations, given both that the pub was a lot busier than it usually experiences and that the weather wasn’t particularly amenable to putting effort into anything other than a beer and some conversation. If you haven’t had a chance to visit the Freshfield yet, it may be worth a visit for cask fans, especially given the proximity to the train line.
At this juncture I considered making a tenuous link in order to join together the second part of the adventure from the weekend, however, a rather hazy Saturday morning followed and killed any creativity I may have had for considering this. It may be possible that it still is impairing me… as I write at least!
Light caramel in colour with an off-white head, the beer was much more heavy in malt tones than in hops for a West Coast IPA. It was also slightly sweet on the nose, using British crystal malts, giving off semi-sweet cereal and biscuit notes. The sweetness carries a little into the flavour, but finishes in a dry manner, especially towards the back of the throat with a reasonable length. The hops don’t quite translate as strongly as they should; with the use of simcoe, colombus and cascade pelleted hops at bittering stage, then a further blast of simcoe, citra, centennial and cascade added at the dry hop stage, you’d expect a bit more. A pretty resinous beer throughout drinking, pleasant and will pair pretty well with food, but the 8.1% is a high strength to pay with relatively low hop return.
Having previously had ‘Le Freak’ from Green Flash, I can recommend giving their beers a chance, especially since they have been developing a strong relationship with St.Feuillen. Chuck provided an amenable and friendly afternoon at the Clove Hitch.
Until the next time mi rasa!
The Freshfield Hotel
1 Massam's Ln, Formby, Merseyside L37 7BD
Tel: 01704 874 871
Green Flash Brewing Company
6550 Mira Mesa Blvd. San Diego, California, 92121
Twenty Three Club / Clove Hitch
23 Hope Street, Liverpool, L1 9BQ
Twitter: https://twitter.com/TwentyThreeClub or https://twitter.com/theclovehitch
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com
Tel: 0151 709 6574