Review: beer fans flock to Real Ale Festival

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Beer is having a bit of a moment.

Gone are the days when a lukewarm, fizzy pint of lager was enough to keep the Glasgow punter happy — now, it’s all trendy microbrews and cask ales shared among the brogues and beards crowd.

Of course, the good folk at Glasgow CAMRA (Campaign for Real Ale) might say that it never went away, having championed the not-so-humble pint for 40 years now.

The weekend marked the group’s first Real Ale Festival in 18 years, and a coming together for beer fans old and young to try a variety of tipples.

The three day event set up stall at the historic Briggait — well worth the visit alone.

The other half and I collected our giraffe icon glass (available for £6/£4 for members) and set about using our first four half-pint tokens.

I started with a Dark Star American pale ale — light in colour, hoppy and savoury to the point of salty — while he opted for the Isle of Skye IPA.

We moved on to a tasty Lancaster blonde, Rat and Ratchett’s silky smooth Black Rat porter and Saltaire’s Cascade pale ale — another American-style with a bitter bite.

My favourite was Orkney’s Dragonhead stout, described by one friendly bar volunteer as “smoky bacon in a glass”. She wasn’t wrong. Sweet coffee gave way to savoury smoke and a hint of spice — a few courses served up in liquid form.

We may also have indulged in a sauerkraut-laden bratwurst — to wash down the beer, of course — having finally squeezed onto the end of one of the few tables (perhaps more seating needed next time?) to watch the Caledonian Brewery Pipe Band play.

It may be clear that I’m a relative beer novice — but the festival is another example of Glasgow’s emerging food and drink scene, and the crowds alone were a testament to the city’s taste for the stuff.

With CAMRA planning to make it a regular event, I could happily brush up on my beer patter and mingle with the real ale stalwarts — although I may need to make notes to remember my reviews the next day.