This is exactly how I like my beer festivals - low key, easily accessible by train, no silly ticketing, stamping or complicated CAMRA style voucher systems, all ales hand-pulled and everything, regardless of strength, £1 a half. Absolutely the best value entertainment going on a miserable wet Saturday afternoon bar none!
The somewhat brief visit (under 3 hours) to this well organised little bash failed to find any truly great beers hiding away but there were several very fine session ales amongst the twenty brews available. My personal favourite was Landlady from Empire, based just down the road, and IMO the finest example of the Slaithwaite brewery's output since the early days of 'Strikes Back' (their first beer). Very few 'stronger' ales were available but of these, Eastwood's Diabalo at a potent 5.6% was very tasty and proving to be one of the most popular beers at the festival.
Although unlikely to win any design awards The Swan is nonetheless a comforting experience (and we all need some of those from time to time!) due to the friendliness of staff and locals, and is now well on it's way to achieving a deserved reputation for quality beer in the valley. Whether the pub will continue to do two festivals annually remains to be seen but this successful debut year has certainly ensured my return to Crimble whenever possible.
NB Slaithwaite Conservative Club holds it's annual beer festival over the weekend of 16-18th November.