Birmingham Beer Bash, the absolute Shnoodlepip!

Shnoodlepip – Urban Dictionary
British slang replacing every word for something good.
Can be an adjective or noun or title depending on use.
1. Goodbye my lil’ shnoodlepip (My awesome kickass friend)
2. That’s THE shnoodlepip (That’s the bomb/shit)
3. Fuck that was shnoodlepippin epic! (So god damn overly amazingly awesomely epic)

Well, that was a shnoodlepippin weekend and a half to quote description three, apart from anything else I learned something, a new word that may or may not ever make it to the Oxford English dictionary (I suspect not)..

After a whole load of hullabaloo those crazy Brummies (and temporary honorary Brummies) only went and pulled it off and in some style too!

I have to confess after trudging for what seemed hours but in fact was minutes through the blazing summer heat of sub-tropical Digbeth, I was a little concerned. There didn’t I thought, look much on the beer front (EEEK!)… Would there be enough to last, more importantly would there be enough variety to keep the beer hungry geekdom happy? YES, how wrong was I, words I am incredibly happy to write here now.

IMG_6649IMG_6638The Bond venue worked really well, several rooms spread around a central courtyard which, for the majority of the two days was basking in the hot summer sunshine. Although it was fantastic to have the weather on our side it did have it’s downside, none of which any organiser could have planned for, in that the indoors areas did get a little warm. Better that than too cold any day in my book and more importantly had no effects on the beer, even the cask beer remaining really cool and in fantastic nick throughout which is testament to the hard work of the festival bar management staff.

IMG_6651 IMG_6653IMG_6658The food stalls that dominated the courtyard were excellent and had minimal queuing which was nice. I tried the Italian sausages from Squisito Deli including one which was made with beer especially for the day, I can’t tell you much more about that other than it was delicious. Then there was the incredible bread and cakes from Stirchley’s “Loaf”, the bread being made with Kernel porter if memory serves, whatever it was it bloody well worked and I loved it. Pop Up Dosa finished Friday’s line up with Southern Indian street cuisine, which I didn’t try, but heard lots of praise from folks who did.

On Saturday we had an additional food outlet arrive, Original Patty Men, serving the most incredible (filthiest) burgers I have ever seen with immaculate attention to detail.

IMG_6639The bars were well spread and skilfully manned by volunteer brewers and beer lovers alike all giving up valuable time and I never waited more than a minute or so to be served, in fact half the time it was the opposite and I hadn’t made up my mind in time and was offered “assistance.” Hats off to all the brewers, guest speakers and brewery staff that attended and helped out, milled, chatted etc as everyone seemed genuinely happy to be there and keen to engage in conversation, share beers, blend and generally go daft.

Then there were the punters, you guys, me, that other bloke you remember speaking to, the lady with the hat, etc etc, what a great crowd.

9rlfhvIt was almost impossible to cross the room without having three or four conversations however brief or convoluted. I met so many friends old and new over the IMG_6663weekend, some who I’ve known for years via social media, but until the weekend our paths had never crossed.

This included among many others Nate Southwood, who greeted me with an instantaneous “outpouring” of happy joy with an enthusiastic hug, with such gusto that he also had an outpouring of a rather expensive/rare imperial stout.. 😉

Beer, that’s the important bit right? It was goooood.. Despite my initial reservations the beer list was wide, varied and bloody amazing. I spent five an a half hours there on the Friday alone and still came away thinking “damn, I didn’t get to try that” which is how it should be at such an event, although clearly there’s nothing wrong with going back over old ground either in returning to something incredibly enjoyable.

IMG_6655Although too many to mention I’d give an honourable shout out to Buxton for Jacobs Ladder at 2.7% and still tasting great, Durham for the extra fiery Hellfire, Liverpool Craft for White Fox, a beer I’d tried and not liked that much before but changed my mind completely and the always crazy OffBeat Dotty, which by Michelle’s beaming glow she was very happy with.

IMG_6637On the new brewery front I am ecstatic to say that Northern Monk Brew “New World IPA” was right up there with the best in my estimation and very quickly sold out, even more tasty on keg than I remember from the last bottle I tried. Two more new boys for me were Compass Brewery with “Berry” (sour) which was a real beauty and Hopcraft “Statement Of Intent” an English IPA that I could drink lots and lots of…

My top three, in third place Arbor/Moor collaboration “Double Dark Alliance” a luxurious imperial stout that literally coated your innards with cockle-warming chococoffee loveliness, perfect for a hot summers afternoon…. Who cares I still had another

In joint second place, was Weird Beard “Amarillo Belgian IPA” AND strangely, the Weird Beard/Northern Monk Brew collaboration “Bad Habit”. This after a long hard deliberation with Gregg Irwin (one half of the beardies) and a side by side taste off where we both tried to convince each other that our own personal favourite was tops. In the end, the only fair result is a draw.

IMG_6656Finally “the absolute bomb”, “the shit” “my awesome kickass friends” in first place on my list was Shnoodlepip.

20130724-095219After sampling two or three glasses of this over two days I still have no idea what this beer is, in which style pocket it should sit, and even today after reading up on it from the Wild Beer Co website I still don’t, and nor do I care. What I do care about is how outstandingly good it is/was and it’s of no surprise to me that it sold out, TWICE!

It smelled incredible with a sort of Rhubarb Crumble meets Gooseberry sour mash-up going on although neither actually feature in reality. The fruit-fest continued in the mouth which was full of refreshing tangy juiciness, followed by a spicy slightly acidic kick at the finish. As you can read here, this was another collaboration beer brewed with the help of Good George and Burning Sky, but for me demonstrates how exceptionally well Wild Beer have done in the last year, with the superb Ninkasi being another fine example at the beer bash.

In my pre-fest post I talked about the crew that had put this wonderful event together, their worries and fears, my hopes for their success. I was right on both counts in that my confidence in them to pull it off was well founded and that clearly it had been a bit of a ride. Emotions were running incredibly high all weekend, thinking back to two tried and failed attempts to speak to Dave “OthertonAleMan” Shipman, who on both occasions had to walk away for fear of bursting into floods of happy/relieved tears. I’m very glad he did as it happens, as I’d most likely have joined him….

IMG_6661Thank you all my lil’ shnoodlepips, you are all ass kickingly amazeballs!

Check out my good friend and consummate beer professional’s version of events right HERE