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The Pig’s Ear Beer & Cider Festival (so named for Cockney rhyming slang for a bottle of beer) is a beer enthusiast’s paradise. The Round Chapel on Powerscroft Road (which, for the record, is more of a parabola on the inside) is rammed full of casks and bottles – some imported from as far away as Australia and Sri Lanka. And of course, a roster of beers from the continent.
Charles Horn, the foreign bar manager, recommends the spicy and lively German Christmas Bocks. There is also a limited quantity of innovative American beers, though if you haven’t already made it to the Festival, you might find yourself out of Friar Tuck on that front.
But don’t despair, there is a selection of over 160 real ales from 92 breweries, as well as a huge selection of real cider and perry. If you’re used to the cider served in pubs, you could do yourself a favour and try some of the real stuff. Also, as befits the snowy weather, there is a wide array of dark winter beers. Many of these have a higher ABV than many are used to, Derek Jones, the cask beer manager suggests you start with the lower gravity and work your way up, lest you be unable to taste the unique flavours of the lower gravity beers later on, when you may find yourself a bit Santa’s Grotto.
In addition to the beers, ciders and selection of curries to soak up the booze, you’ll find novelty drinking t-shirts, flasks and collectible mugs to check that raging beer enthusiast off your Christmas list. So forget the pasted on lights and hustling masses of Oxford Circus, and get your Christmas shopping done locally, with a pint in hand. And, if you find yourself tasting more than your fair share, make sure you’ve got a plan to get home safe. Actually, no matter what make sure you get home safe.
Entrance is only £3 (£2 for CAMRA members).
The Pig’s Ear Festival is on until Friday at midnight.