Rachel Smith samples The Sirloin’s Annual Sausage and Beer Festival
Some things are meant to go together: champagne and strawberries, pie and peas and bangers and mash, to name a few.
So when tickets for The Sirloin’s Annual Sausage and Beer Festival went on sale it sounded like a match made in heaven.
Pulling up outside the pub in Station Road, Hoghton, it was clear from the cars parked outside we weren’t alone in thinking we were on to a winner.
We followed our noses like overgrown Bisto kids towards the delicious smells coming from the pub.
Inside we were greeted by a friendly doorman, who gave us our Sausage and Beer Festival 2014 pint glasses, wristbands and festival programmes and directed us outside to where the eating area and beer tent were set up.
With temperatures hovering just above freezing we wondered whether we might have arrived six months too soon but the beer tent offered a warm haven from the winter chill.
As the crowd of 20-40 something’s milled around, there was a warm, convivial atmosphere as a band of local musicians played an acoustic set to an appreciative audience.
The bar boasted an impressive range of beers, ciders and perrys with almost 30 different beverages to try.
I ordered a Corby Blonde, a full bodied, hoppy ale with a pleasant aftertaste, while my husband, who likes his ales dark and deep, opted for a pint of Nutty Black.
The festival program described this award-winning ruby mild as having “a hint of nuttiness but unmistakeable roasted and bittersweet flavours”.
Nutty Black proved to be a popular choice with the men, who swiftly finished their pints and ordered another before we made our way outside for the other main attraction – the sausages.
Billed as The Annual Sausage and Beer Festival 2014 and with an impressive range of ales, we were keenly awaiting an equally impressive range of sausages,
This is Lancashire, after all. But on arrival at the barbecue the range was, well, somewhat limited.
The menu offered sausage barms, burgers, pulled pork and grilled halloumi, served with french fries – a perfectly acceptable barbecue menu, but not what we’d imagined from a sausage festival.
Where were the Cumberland, the Lincolnshire and Gloucester Old Spots? The pork and leek, cracked black pepper and the blow-your-head-off jalapenos?
As I tucked into my Butcher’s Choice on a barm, I must admit, I felt a bit like this sausage festival had been over sold.
At least the outside eating area kept my beer at a perfect temperature, even if I couldn’t feel my feet. My friend ordered the pulled pork, with barbecue sauce while her husband tucked into a burger, all of which was pleasant enough, but somewhat let down by the sub-zero temperatures and the fact they weren’t, as promised, sausages.
We abandoned our cold french fries and retreated back to the beer tent, where the men ordered more Nutty Black and my friend and I switched to cider.
I’ve always been partial to cider (I blame my West Country mother) so putting all risks of a hangover out of my mind, I swiftly ordered an Old Rosie.
At 7.3% even my West Country relatives would struggle to sup much of this cloudy cider but as the beautifully old fashioned tasting measure slipped down the feeling began to return to my toes and my spirit was restored.
We rounded the evening off with a pint of Rosie’s Pig – a gentler, medium dry cider at 4.8% with a subtle spiced flavour.
As we left The Sirloin to wind our way home, our evening’s musings came to the same conclusions: the beer was good, the atmosphere was pleasant, but the sausages were a bit of a red herring.