>Coming from Yorkshire and not having at least a passing interest in rugby and cricket is like coming from Spain and not being a catholic – possible, but unlikely. I quite like boxing too, but I’ve definately got zero interest in ‘footy’. The nearest I’ve ever been to a football ground was last night’s Piglet 9 beer festival at Leyton Orient Supporters club, tucked into Orient’s new(ish) West Stand, close to what will be the Olympic park. The LOSC always has 5 cask ales on and a real cider which, I gather, is unusual in a sport associated with lagerswillers. In 2008 the club was awarded CAMRA Club of the Year, joint winner with Appleton Thorn Village Hall in Cheshire.
I haven’t been to a festival in London for a couple of years. The last one was a Pig’s Ear event at Stratford which was (let’s be honest) dreadful. The beer was poorly kept, and for the most part undrinkable – in fact, I ended up with a raging indegestion that went on for days. However, I’d heard good things about the LOSC festivals, and everything I’d been told turned out to be true. The bar is spotlessly clean – literally gleaming in places – with enthusiastic and knowledgeable volunteer staff. The punters seemed more mixed than perhaps might have been encountered at similar events in the past – neither exclusively white and beardy nor male. Almost all of the thirty-odd beers were on stillage, and every one we tried – apart from one stinky half of Cambridge Moonshine’s Engagement – was in absolutely spot-on condition.
Most of the ales were from Suffolk, Norfolk and Essex with a specially brewed Brodie’s Orient from just up the road. I didn’t get to try that, but we hacked our way through Crouch Vale’s Topsail (huge hop blast), Harwich’s Bathside Bitter (marmalade, orange peel), Nethergate Umbel Magna (prunes) and Old Cannon Gunner’s Daughter (sharp, bitter). A real standout was Brentwood’s Chestnut Stout, a massively smoky mouthful of tingling black coffee notes. We were enjoying ourselves so much that suddenly we were the last ones left, with the staff stacking up the chairs. I had a brief chat with (I presume) the club secretary, an affable gent who pretended not to notice that I was slurring my words. We weren’t the only ones who had a good night. On the way home we passed a bloke who was dragging himself hand-over-hand up the street using the park railings.