That special joie de vivre that only the run up to Christmas can generate is upon me today. Yes I know it's a little early to be feeling very festive but two excellent local beer festivals coinciding with payday plus an afternoon off work and some half decent weather have all conspired to lift my spirits to a seldom-experienced plateau of euphoria. And I'm feeling like this in Dewsbury for pity's sake - it must be the medication!
Hopes of connecting with Anglo-Dutch Tabitha (a near legendary festival special) at the Stork & Whippet (WRLRR) fest (right) were dashed a few days ago when the beer list was announced, but seeing the Harviestoun Schiehallion on the menu instantly remedied my disappointment. This multi-award winning cask-conditioned lager seems to have dropped off in either popularity or availability in recent times - certainly in these parts - but remains the undisputed champion of it's category in my eyes. New boys Leeds appear to have another thoroughbred on their hands with Ale Mary, a delicious dark medium strength beer with plenty of rich roast flavour that could well see you doing penance if not respectful!
The overwhelmingness of The Star's beer festivals at Lockwood in Huddersfield is ... well ... overwhelming! Those first few minutes there, awkwardly clutching glass and menu in front of a battery of fifty handpumps, are on a par with that childhood hysteria felt moments before present opening on Christmas morning. With so much choice and little chance (or desire) to get through the lot I tend to head straight for the gimmicky stuff these days - you know the bright green Irish ale or the banana & toasted wombat flavoured brews!
The Star has become much more about having fun than sitting there ticking a list or attempting to pontificate on the merits of such and such a beer - especially when you're just plain juiced. For the record I did find some previously unsampled delights today but they were all totally over-shadowed by the awesome Brew Dog Hype at 4.1%, a Scottish ale of fabulous sharp hoppy bitterness that was too moreish to allow a serious inspection of a lot of what was on offer - sorry!
It's on to Suddaby's festival at Malton in a fortnight for a winter festival with a real Christmas feel, and God willing there will be a report of some description. A premature Happy/Hoppy Holidays everybody!