On Saturday I went to NERAX, a cask ale festival, with Mike, Ashley and our friend Kim. The exhibition was held just outside Boston in Somerset last Wednesday to Saturday and was one of the most unique beer festivals I have ever been to. The beers were a mix of offerings from America and Britain. We figured we probably wouldn’t see many of the British beers around so we stuck to them for the four and a half hours we were there. Even without the American options we never ran out of things to try. Thankfully most of the beers were below five percent and were easy to session with and allowed us to taste a huge variety without stumbling home.
There were a few winners for the day in my opinion. Fyne Jarl and Brains impressed me early on and even warranted a half pint (beers are purchased in 1/4, 1/2 and full pints). The beer that jumped off the boards and was maybe the most flavorful was the Kernel Export India Porter. It was full of coffee aroma and had a great hop bitterness.
One of my favorite parts of the festival was the strangely wonderful tradition of the “reaper.” Every time a cask was kicked, one of the volunteers rang a bell while another, dressed as the grim reaper, paced back and forth before using a scythe with an eraser attached to erase the beer from the boards (pictured above). Each time the crowd seemed transfixed and predictions were made while the reaper paced. When finally the beer is erased the crowd would issue a collective groan and discuss that beer.