In the past few days I’ve been to two different festivals, each dedicated to a single comestible.
On Wednesday I went up to Earls Court to the Great British Beer Festival, where real ale nuts from across the country gather to down halves of warm brown beer and stroke their beards. I did try to grow a beard myself, but it was still at the scraggy stage and started to go ginger, so the next day it was gone.
Still, I do love real ale, and for the past few years I’ve met up with old friends from university there for a catch-up and some serious drinking. The best beer I tried there was a local one – Hepworth‘s Prospect, an organic beer with a taste like smoke (but in a good way).
We didn’t stick to British Ale, though, because we often like to end up at the ‘Rest of the World’ bar (or ‘forrun muck’ as it is sometimes known) for some Belgian beers, Czech Pilsners, German Weissbier and some American brews.
American? Yes, the Americans can definitely brew decent beer. Anything from Anchor is great (and I went around the brewery last year to see how they made it and to spend as much time as possible ‘checking’ the quality). One sceptic among us last year, who had unfortunately only experienced the mass-produced dross lagers that the US is known for was totally changed around by a bottle of Brooklyn Lager
Anyway, it was a great night and a shame that I had to go to work the next day.
Today, I went to the Chilli Festival at West Dean, which is a place that deals in horticulture and other traditional arts, and is set in the middle of the South Downs on the road between Midhurst and Chichester.
There was chilli infused everything – chutnies inspired by Asia, sauces from the Caribbean, smoked chilli, pickled chilli, chilli in chocolate, chilli in beer (oh, and there was plenty of beer at this festival too), chilli on sausages…
I found a really potent chipotle sauce (chipotle is smoked chilli) and some cheese with chill in it, which will both go down rather well. And a couple of plants, a nice ornamental one and one of a grade 8 ‘Super Chilli’ variety. Oh, and the beer stall had a bottle of Hepworth’s Prospect, which rounded off the week very well.