A Dark Beer Festival – The Black Lion at Leighton Buzzard

I will start by saying I am not a dark beer drinker, give me a light and very hoppy beer any day, but I couldn’t miss the opportunity of going this dark beer festival at Leighton Buzzard to celebrate five years since Nikki from Rugby’s The Merchants Inn moved to the Black Lion in Leighton Buzzard after Burlinson Inns bought and refurbished the pub.

Before checking into the Swan Hotel, a Weatherspoon pub and hotel, we planned to start with a quick look at the Leighton Buzzard Brewing Co Brewery Tap which was founded in 2014 but unfortunately the tap and shop are only open Fridays and Saturdays and there wasn’t anything to see.

Just a quick walk up the town we found the Bald Buzzard Micro Pub which opened in July 2015, a nice and cosy micropub with four cask ales gravity fed.  Between us we tried an Oakham Citra, Abbeydale Reveller and Chiltern Black Malty Chocolate Porter all in good condition.  We went across the road to the Red Lion to see what they had but with only Green King Abbot and Doombar we decided to give it a miss.  Then on to the Black Lion for the dark beers.  The beer festival was mainly in the gin shed out the back and I gave the beers a good try with help from the very friendly and informative staff behind the bar.  I liked Billericay Chilli porter 5.9% (good with the curry), Binghams Coffee Stout 5%, Five Points Railway Porter 4.8%, Gloucester West Quay Six Malt Porter, Thornbridge McConnels Creamy Vanilla Stout 5.0% - a lot of the others were too sweet for me but liked by others, North Riding Tiramisu porter 4.5% comes into that category.  I never got to the Grafton Mint Chocolate Stout 4.8%, with 50 beers to be tried of course I couldn’t do them all justice.

Dr Busker was playing from 8pm and ended up with the expected ‘more beer, more beer, more beer, more beer anthem’.  Delisha provided very good chicken or dahl and spinach curry with rice, naan and poppadum – thanks Gary.  Even some birthday cake was circulated.  After a little wander around town having had enough dark beer and realising there was nothing else going on – back to the Black Lion for a great citrussy gin with grapefruit and orange.  I couldn’t take any more dark beers by then.  The 150 bottles of gin from the gin bar were out of action because of the festival but I still found one I liked. Back to the Swan Inn to sleep – TV in the room next door had finally gone quiet…. Zzzz


I thought I only liked stout and not mild or porter, but I now know it really depends on the taste and the condition. I don’t like any that are very sweet and I now need to learn my malts.






Article written & provided by Christine Lewis