I’ve been chasing this event for a long time, but sadly I never went. This year, however, I organized in time and I succeeded: I went to the 9th edition of Acido Acida British Beers Festival in Ferrara. This year I had decided to go alone, but lucky for me my friend Alessandro was on vacation nearby and decided to join me to taste some beer together.
The idea of the event organized by Il Molo British Pub in Ferrara is to promote overseas productions and styles, but there were several rather pleasant exceptions. The festival, which spans four days from Thursday to Sunday, had on tap almost 200 different beers from over 30 different breweries (I’ll leave you consult the complete list on Untappd). Also the location is very suggestive, inside the cloister of Santa Maria della Consolazione with a central garden with tables and benches and all the breweries stands arranged along the corridors that surround it.
From the news written by the organizers and the press the masterpiece of this year’s edition was the presence for the first time in Italy of some English breweries such as Pastore Brewing & Blending, Solvay Society Brewery and 5 Barrel Project, and as a novelty a festival section entirely dedicated to producers and retailers in the area of Ferrara (Ferrara Craft Beer City). This year, however, there was another novelty that personally intrigued me a lot: a room dedicated exclusively to the Trappist brewery Chimay with a selection of five different barrel aged versions of their Chimay Grand Réserve (informally known as Blue Labeled Chimay). In addition, the event included food, live music and a homebrewer competition that is part of the Italian Mobi Championship.
As you can see there were a lot of interesting things, to try them all would have taken several days, but for this year I settled for only one. Considering the various possibilities I decided that the most practical thing (both as costs and time) would be to go by train in a single day: starting at 8:00 and returning at 00:30, I had 8 full hours of tasting, without having to search for accommodation for the night. Absolutely recommended for those who want to go to the festival in the future.
The festival was organized as often happens at similar events: everyone had his own glass and the beers were paid with tokens purchased beforehand. As recommended by the organizers (actually my friend Alessandro said me to do it) I bought the welcome kit – consisting of a glass (printed with the festival logo), 2 tokens and a guide – and a package of 20 additional tokens, everything at a discounted price of €35 (entry to the festival was free). During the event, in fact, the tokens cost 1.50€ each: the token value of the 150ml tasting was shown above the taps with one, two or three circles according to the beer. These circles, however, had a further indication: according to the color, they indicated the level of sourness of the beer, starting from the green for a non-sour beer to the red that indicated a strong sourness. Very easy and practical, I really enjoyed these indications.
I was there on Friday shortly after the opening: I immediately went to the cash desk to pick up my welcome kit, and there I met Alessandro who meanwhile had already arrived; Before we started tasting beers, we decided to visit the guys from Antica Contea brewery at their stand and have a beer with them. Trying to give a sense to tasting sequence we made a first round with:
- Birrificio Agricolo Sorio – Gargan-IGA: 5,8% ABV IGA with a soft sourness, very drinkable with a pleasant fruity aroma;
- Klanbarrique – Malmadura: Another 3.60% IGA with a stronger sourness than the previous one, with a citric aroma and more characteristics of a wild fermented beer;
- Lough Gill Brewery – Cutback: 4,5% ABV NEIPA with intense fragrances of citrus and grapefruit and with an absolutely not intrusive bitterness;
At this point, however, I began to feel hungry, and the “generous” beer amounts did not help at all. So me and Alessandro went to the food stand where we both chose a piadina that has also to be paid in tokens. Excellent and so big, we chose it without a doubt since we were in on of the territories known, among other things, for the piadina.
Satiated we went for the second round of tasting:
- Floribunda – Floribunda Holunder: Excellent 6% ABV so dry cider with elderflower that was felt very well along with notes of ripe apple
- Evoqe Brewing – Evoqesour #1: 3.80% ABV Berliner Weisse with an intense tropical passion fruit fragrance;
- Evoqe Brewing – Evoqesour #3: Sour beer with fruit in beer l and slush versions. I had never seen a beer slush before, so I tried both versions. Both characterized by the taste of mango, the beer had a very strong sourness and a strong mango aroma that almost disappeared in the slush;
- Blond Brothers – Sub Smoked: A very delicate 3% ABV Grodziskie with very soft smoked aroma, sourness and salty taste;
- Shepherd Brewing and Blending – English Soup: One of the masterpieces of the festival, a 6% ABV sour Pastry Stout. It had a hazy pink color and was characterized by an aroma of strawberry and raspberry with marked sour taste. Of a Stout I personally had not found any characteristics, maybe I didn’t get this beer right;
It was 16:00 and we noticed that they were opening the door to the first floor of the cloister where there would be the tasting of barrel aged Chimay. We went there immediately, reaching a tiny room full of people: In my opinion a larger room would not be bad! After a brief presentation of the brewery and their beers I tasted two of the five proposed variants of Blue labeled Chimay (only in this case the taste cost was 5 tokens and it was served in a special tasting glass):
- Chimay Grande Réserve Fermentée en Barriques – Armagnac (2020): 10.2% ABV version aged two years in Armagnac barrels with a complex aroma of cognac, chocolate, caramel, red fruit, vanilla and some spicy notes but with a delicate taste and very delicate alcohol sensation;
- Chimay Grande Réserve Fermentée en Barriques – Chêne (2019): a 10.2% ABV version aged for three years in oak barrels that have less aromatic complexity than the previous one but with stronger wood notes;
Back to the garden a bit sweaty (I don’t know if it was for the size of the room or the alcohol of the beers), we headed to the area of local producers and retailers Ferrara Craft Beer City:
- Shire Brewing – Westland Row: 4% ABV Oyster stout with a dry finish and with toasted, coffee and cocoa flavors. I had not felt so much oyster/sea notes;
- Liquida – Über: 5% ABV Kellerbier with malty and honey notes, very pleasant beer;
- Liquida – Loki (Sabro / Amarillo / Mosaic): 5,50% ABV American IPA quite herbaceous for the style and with a very delicate bitterness;
- Liquida – Famous Last Hop: 6,90% ABV American IPA also herbaceous with a more marked bitterness;
Dinner time: back at the food stand we started to stody the menu. After a careful analysis I chose a second piadina, it seemed a shame not to take it in its homeland. Then I continued with the last round of tastings, one part together with Alessandro and the other alone because for him it was time to take the bus.
- Garage Beer Co. – Kicking Heartbeat: 7% ABV Berliner Weisse with a fruity aroma and sour taste with lime notes;
- Hambleton Brewery – Stallion Amber: 4,20% Ordinary bitter with a sweet start and a bitter but delicate finish;
- Reservoir Dogs Brewery – Gaap: 8% ABV sour beer fermented with wine fermentation sediments characterized by a vinous aroma with notes of balsamic vinegar;
- Reservoir Dogs Brewery – Dogs Island: 5,50% Sour IPA, a hazy beer with a marked bitterness and a herbaceous and hoppy aroma;
- Bierol – Spruce Willis: 6.50% Herb beer that together with malty notes has a herbaceous and pine aroma with a not very strong bitterness that prevails over the rest;
- Siren Craft Brew – Barrel Aged Caribbean Chocolate Cake: 9.40% Imperial Stout with cocoa that stands out both on the nose and in the mouth along with chocolate notes;
- Blond Brothers – Blanche De Cavour: 4.50% Witbier with a very spicy but not fruity aroma;
At this point it was time to go back home: I greeted the guys of Reservoir Dogs and Antica Contea and I walked to the train station to get home.
In conclusion it was a beautiful and interesting day (thanks also to a wonderful and warm sunny day), there was an enormous variety of offers, very interesting and high quality beers. In the end I didn’t try all the English breweries for the first time in Italy, but for one day of festival I’m more than satisfied. Honestly there was not even a beer (or cider) that I did not like or did not consider good. Also great food (or rather, piadinas since I have not tried anything else), and excellent organization, everything under full control without any problem, with all the necessary services for visitors. The only problem? I did only one day, it would be interesting to try at least two. Maybe I will, who knows.