Ok, from the beginning...
Getting into Mrs Parma's as planned, I found from the bar girl that I was the first person for the week to walk into the place with a Hawaiian shirt on. Grabbing my cheaper pint of Moon Dog's Coconut and Pineapple Brown Ale and ordering the Hawaiian Parma, I sat and let the beer warm up a bit. Talk about cloudy, and with the chalky brown look to it, my first beer for Good Beer Week looked more like mud (or something else brown that I'll leave to your imagination to figure out). While cold the flavours were pretty muddled too, or maybe I am just not use to pineapple and coconut being in a beer (who would have though?!). As it warmed I could separate and recognise these flavours better, finding the coconut essence a little too strong, putting a weird overtone on the pineapple. At least the flavours carried all the way through the beer to make it bold, even if for me personally I found it more 'miss' than 'hit'. The pineapple on the parma helped boost the same flavour in the beer, but have to say I was impressed with the parma by itself. It tasted like a Hawaiian pizza, but instead of a dough base, it was on chicken!
Moving on from there I was too early for the public tasting of North Coast at Beer Delux, but walking past, Damien from Purvis saw me, and seeing he had a couple of spare invites, let me sneak in for the trade tasting. While I had tasted most of these beers before, I was happy to see my palate has become a bit better over the 2 and a half years since I had them in the U.S. (and on tap), or maybe it was hanging with some industry types that made me try a bit harder to pick some flavours and have an opinion on the beers. Overall, they are pretty light and clean beers, with texture that is decent (but not as creamy as when I had them on tap), which probably makes it a bit different from most U.S. beers I have tried. There was also a sweeter slant to them, so overall I get more a British style.
The Scrimshaw Pilsner was a bit metallic up front and back while cold, with slight honey coming into the back as it warms. Hops seem pretty subdued but it cleanses ok. The Blue Star Wheat has a bit of a fizz across the tongue with little wheat character and the noble style hops also keeping that flavour restrained. ACME Pale had some sweet malt/honey smell, which come through on taste more as it warmed. There was decent texture on this after the previous beers, and while the level of hops flavour was good, the hop variety was a bit off putting for me. The Pranqster had the classic belgium blond yeast smell, but did not translate wholely into taste for me. It cleanses well on the back and noticed a bit of sweet citrus that was a bit watery. The ACME IPA had a massive malt nose, but messed with you head with the mostly hop flavour, which builds across the tongue and lingers in aftertaste. The hop was not too overbearing on first taste, but after a few sips it was getting a little too much for me. However, letting it warm, the malt came through more to help meld into the hop much better, and some residual sweetness was also found. This is a beer I reckon would do well via a hand pump. The Red Seal Ale had a dark malt smell which came through on the palate as well. I sensed a bit of artificial sweetness and finished dry. The Le Merle had me between a St Feuillian and Saison Du Pont, but didn't out do either in malt or fruit character. Still, was one of the better beers in my opinion. Brother Thelonious Abbey Ale had a dark sweet and alcohol smell (9.4%). A Dubbel taste with a Quadrupple alcohol. The Old No. 38 Stout was pretty disappointing for me. The coffee smell, thin body and over-roasted malt had me thinking they shouldn't have bothered. The Old Rasputin Imperial Stout, while up with the style, didn't overly impress me either, except that it was able to contain the 75 IBU ok.
Having been able to do the trade tasting, I was able to get the the Terminus a bit earlier to check out the Crafty Pint taps and see that the Carlton was not on (Yes!). I tried the Hargreaves Stout seeing I was on my 12th beer for the day, and found a bit dry, like the 38 Stout. I had a taste of the Red Duck Imperial Stout with Jimmy, and found it lacking quite a bit in malt character, before trying to reset the taste buds with a Trumer Pils and Moo Brew Pilsner before the dinner started. The crumbed pigs head was quite nice, as was the calamari, but found the tripe way too salty, so not even the Trumer Pils could overcome. The Bridge Road Saison was next and went really well with the goats cheese mousse that came with the black angus carpaccio. The Feral Hop Hog IPA went well with the Americaine sauce in the celeriac gnocchi, but found the Holgate ESB overpowered the roasted lamb dish. The Mountain Goat Stout went well with the slight bitterness from the chocolate marquise, and was a great end to the dinner.
As I went to this event by myself (actually, I went to them all by myself) Jimmy and Ed put me on the 'cool kids' table with my fellow Mountain Goaters and other industry types, so was great to meet and talk to all of them about beer, rugby and the events to come in Good Beer Week. As this event was the official opening for Good Beer Week, Elbowskin played the beer song that has been used to promote the week, and Professor Pilsner had beer trivia questions between courses. I only managed 8 out of 15, but beat Sam and Dave from Mountain Goat, and ended up only being one off the groups that got the highest. After the dinner, this trivia was discussed more between Jimmy and I as we had a few shots. I was just happy I did the round of baby guinness as it was the only shots my taste buds enjoyed. Looking at the taps at the Termi I have to say that for me they are not that great overall. I understand why Crafty has chosen the ones he has, similarly as to why Stone and Wood Pacific Ale and other 'one step away from mainstream' beers did well in the critics choice awards. However, the Moo Brew Pils and the Burleigh Hef I had between courses of the dinner did go down well.
Anyway, now the hangover is starting to kick in, I might rest up, maybe just try the Moon Dog Porter at Josie Bones, and keep my palate clean for the chocolate and beer tasting I have tonight. Hmm, the first day has nearly undone me already (but I guess tasting 22-odd beers and 4 shots will do that to you) . Could be tough getting through the rest of the week...