Saturday 2nd June 2012
Photographs by Graham Butterworth
The 8th annual Crabble Corn Mill Beer Festival was held at the start of the Queen's Diamond Jubilee weekend at the beginning of June 2012. I usually get off of the train at Kearsney Station, just before Dover, as I always enjoy the short walk along the river Dour, near the edge of Kearsney Abbey gardens, to get to the Mill. Although a festival bus is provided from Dover Priory Station at a small extra charge.
I have been to the Corn Mill several times now as they have a Beer Festival and a separate Cider Festival every year to raise funds to keep the Mill going. This year the Mill is 200 years old and the festival is part of the celebrations that they are holding.
It is a working museum and one of the most complete and working example of a Georgian watermill. It is owned and operated by the Crabble Corn Mill Trust (registered charity No. 297098) and run entirely by volunteers. All the beer and cider is donated by breweries, pubs, clubs, a hotel group, the local church, local companies, shops, a CAMRA group and some individuals in order to raise money to keep the Mill open for future generations. All the money taken for the pints of beer or cider goes directly towards running costs and future maintenance.
The beer bar is on the ground floor area of the mill, ciders are sold at a separate bar in the mill yard, through a cottage window. In the programme there were a total of 54 beers, 14 ciders and 3 perries, all from Kent. All priced at £3 per pint, £1.50 per half.
When I arrived at the start on Saturday one of the beers had already sold out, the ever popular Hopdaemon Green Daemon, which has won many CAMRA awards at festivals. The second to run out two hours later was again Hopdaemon with Golden Braid another CAMRA festival award winner.
The third to run out was Wantsum Brewery Red Raddle (5.0% abv) which I have not come across before. It was brown not red but tasted dark and malty. The fourth to run out was Millis Brewery Kentish Gold, a tangy golden ale. After that I lost count.
Some of the other beers I tried were as follows, with descriptions taken from the programme. Goachers Special (3.8%) a copper coloured beer with a mixture of hops, malt and candied fruit flavour, not really to my personal taste. Wantsum Imperium (4.0%) a deep amber best bitter with smooth biscuit malts and a hoppy nose. Wantsum Fortitude (4.2%) a best bitter combining four types of malts to give a depth of body and English and American hops for a pronounced hop finish, a bit too malty for me, understandably.
I also tried Kent Brewery Cobnut (4.1%) described as a fresh ruby ale, I found it pleasantly nutty. And three from Hop Fuzz of West Hythe, a new brewery for me; the English (4.0%) a golden, malty bitter, balanced against the sweet barley achieving a mild pleasant taste, a bit milky I thought; and the American (4.0%) a light beer with medium body and a hoppy zesty flavour with hints of melon and pine, nice up front but a bit of a harsh finish I thought; and Chocolatier (5.0%) a dark stout made with real chocolate and rich roasted malts, very rich taste indeed.
I tried a few tasters from the Foundry; Loco IPA (3.9%) American style IPA but at session strength, my personal favourite of the festival, hoppy, lovely and bitter; and Haka (4.1%) deep but fleeting bitterness imparted by New Zealand hops, on second thoughts was this my favourite?
Then a few from Tonbridge Brewery; Golden Braun (3.2%) a refreshing beer with a satisfying malt flavour balanced against a light fruitiness from Spalter hops, very good indeed, especially for the low strength; Coppernob (3.8%) a dry lightly malted fruity medium bitter ale, with a bit of a harsh aftertaste I thought; and Rustic (4.0%) a deep bronze lightly hopped rich tasting ale, nice.
The strongest beer was Nelson Task Force (5.5%) brewed to commemorate the 30th anniversary of the Falklands conflict and support the Veterans Foundation. A bit too strong and malty for me.
Finally, on the ales, another new brewery for me, Ripple Steam at Sutton-by-Dover; Milk Stout (3.8%) a creamy biscuity homage to Mackeson of Hythe, very nice; and Best Bitter (4.1%) traditional ingredients produce an infusion of malt and apricot flavours to make a supreme session bitter, almost peppery I thought.
I also managed a few tasters of the ciders that I had not come across before. As usual there was one Cider from Crabble Corn Mill themselves, quite strong. Merry Moon had produced a Ginger cider, the mixture of cider and ginger taste was well balanced. They had also produced Dark Cider Moon with blackcurrants, unfortunately there was only a very little left at the bottom of the barrel and it tasted all blackcurrants and no cider to me, wish I had got to it earlier.
Kingswood Cider, was a new producer for me, Medium cider, medium to dry I thought, very drinkable. From Double Vision as well as their usual Impeared Vision Perry there was an Elderflower Perry, I am not sure about the origins of the elderflowers on this one, it was quite bland. Finally I tried the excellent Duddas Tun medium cider from Pine Trees Farm.
There was more music than ever this year over the course of the festival, all from local bands.
Graham informs me that approximately 480 people attended Friday night (ticket only) and 500 on the Saturday, and a few less on Sunday.
The Mill can regularly be seen working and there are milling demonstrations. There are other regular events including monthly folk nights, quiz nights, talks on local history, and art and photography exhibitions. Also the Mill facilities are available for hire. There is a fully licenced tea room selling snacks and hot meals and cream teas.
The current Mill was built in 1812, although there has been a mill on the site since 1227. So in 2012 they are celebrating their 200th Anniversary. They are holding a celebration weekend on 25th to 27th August 2012.
Crabble Corn Mill, Lower Road, River, DOVER, Kent CT17 0UY
Tel: 01304 823292 (01304 823710 when the Mill is closed)