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Crafty Fox Bar

A crafty night in – an online beer tasting review

By Griz Greenwood (Crafty Fox patron and friend)

My Dad introduced me to beer at the age of 15. I didn’t have the heart to tell him that we’d already met about 12 months earlier and we were already firm friends! Obviously, I’ve had a number of years beer drinking practice since then and always look forward to trying a new or different brew, whether at home or on my travels. My Dad had a saying: “There’s no such thing as bad ale, but some are better than others”. I’ll come back to that later….

So, in these strange, lockdown, pub-less times we find ourselves in, it came to my notice that a beer drinking opportunity (and the chance to try something different) was available courtesy of The Crafty Fox. This sounded more than interesting, so tickets to the event were purchased online and we awaited further instructions as to how the night would unfold!

Delivered straight to your door

As advertised, a pack of four de-branded large (mystery) cans – labelled 1 to 4 – along with two ornate brewery themed glasses, a large, printed sheet to rate the beers for various criteria, two packets of nuts and a bag of crisps were delivered on Friday afternoon. Opening the delivery box came as a very nice surprise as the glasses and snacks were a bonus and weren’t expected. The cans didn’t seem very cold at this point, so my idea was to put them in the fridge for an hour – unfortunately I forgot about my imposed one-hour time limit and they unfortunately stayed there until the beginning of the tasting and were possibly a bit too cool by then (classic lager drinker faux pas!).

Online beer tasting

At about 19:50 we joined the Zoom gathering and after a bit of fumbling to deactivate the mute button we said hello to the other gathered guests and fellow beer enthusiasts. Before the actual tasting began, we were all officially introduced by Baz and Michelle and as an icebreaker had to briefly tell everyone “When was your favourite pint?” and “What is your favourite brewery?” These two questions created a very diverse but interesting range of answers and got the night off to a fun start.

The main event…

We were encouraged to open the first can and pour it into one of the provided “special” glasses, but before actually taking a drink we were to rate the beer, giving it a personal score out of five for its appearance and aroma. After thoroughly sampling we were to score it for taste, finish and then finally give it an overall score reflecting if we had enjoyed it.

Beer tasting night

As part of an accompanying interspersed beer related quiz, we also had to suggest the ABV for the various beers and if we had any idea of which brewery might have produced the beer. As I don’t usually drink many different craft beers, I was completely out of my comfort zone and had no idea about the brewery names but did actually guess the ABV (within the permitted range) of two of the beers. The actual ABV and brewery names were revealed at the end of the tasting along with the quiz results. As we worked through the beers, Baz gave us hints and tips about the various characteristics of each brew in an effort to guide us through the tasting (and possibly give us clues as to the brewery).

People commented about what they could pick-up (taste, smell and flavour) and it was surprising what a mixed reaction this produced and what were people’s favourites (or not!).

The four beers were quite different in appearance, carbonation, smell, flavour and strength without being too extreme. Apart from one of the beers being from Vocation Brewery, I hadn’t heard of the other three breweries, but my personal favourite was no.4 (turned out to be from Pomona Island – apparently based in Salford, not the Caribbean!)

A crafty night

The evening was fun, educational, good value and certainly gave me a better insight into craft beers and the vast range of them that is available. I would thoroughly encourage anyone who might like to try some different beers to consider any similar future events.

It also gave us chance to meet other people and hear their views – albeit online. It was interesting to hear which beers, out of the four were people’s favourites. The results were surprising and very diverse and showed just how varied people’s tastes can be. The event was scheduled for about two hours but we were all still chatting after three! It would be fun to actually meet some of these people “in real life” when all this Covid chaos is all over – and we all know where! ?

So, as my Dad used to say: “There’s no such thing as bad ale, but some are better than others”. On a personal note, beer number two made that statement very true – it wasn’t for me! Then again, my Dad never tasted the Communist Era Government approved beer my Mum brought me back from Bulgaria in 1985. Absolutely revolting!

A big thank you to Griz for sharing his experiences. You can find out when our next online beer tastings are taking place by visiting the ‘Our Events‘ page.