Friday, March 11, 2011

The 3rd Ship Inn Festival


This time of year it seems that the beer festivals are coming thick and fast, this week it is the turn of Brighouse to host one, at the 'Old Ship Inn' . This is the 3rd time the pub has hosted a beer festival and they have used the method they have used in the past which obviously works for them.

There are 25 beers on at any one time, some on the main bar but most on a makeshift bar in the back room. All are handpulled and cellar cooled. When any of the 25 beers runs off they are replaced by another which is indicated in the programme, so the punter knows what is coming and where it is likely to be. All beer is £2.50 a pint, and all have to be paid for with tokens. There are 6 ciders available as well.

When I called on Thursday there were a few drinkers taking advantage of the festival, but surprisingly few 'tickers'. Anyway, armed with my tokens and a programme, it was just a question of where to start.

It soon became apparent that Mark, the landlord, had managed to collect a decent range of beers from near and far. All the beers had comprehensive tasting notes so you could identify the style you wanted. As usual for me at festivals, it was a case of searching out the new breweries first, and I was pleased to find at least a couple to sample. First up was Hopping Mad 'Fruitcase', a 4.5% golden ale from Olney in Buckinghamshire; the tasting notes revealed this was a newish brewery from Mark's home county that had made its first trip north. A coup for Mark and a very acceptable start. In the back room I found Swanage 'Ginger', a test brew from a brewery that had not even started yet. Another coup, and another acceptable effort.

Many of the beers had been sourced from the South and West, and breweries such as Goachers, Bristol Beer Factory, Isle of Avalon, Otter, and Wickwar will feature during the course of the festival, and will be rubbing shoulders on the bar with more local offerings from Goose Eye, Empire, Nook, and Brass Monkey. In fact, Mark has even been let loose again at Brass Monkey and brewed his third beer with them, called 'Fruit Monkey', with overtones of honey and bananas.

With two more tokens to use I selected Farmers 'A Drop Of Nelson's Blood', another rare brewery in these parts, and finished with Brimstage 'Sandpiper', brewed with citra hops.

There are plenty of interesting beers to go at, and just as many interesting ones to replace them, so that one visit is not enough to try everything you want, especially since one is the classic 'JJJ IPA' from Moor, an absolute bargain at £1.25 for a 9% spectacular beer. I will be back to see what has changed during the weekend and try to catch some of those beers not available on my first visit. The Ship has rapidly become one of the years 'must visit' festivals. Well done to Mark and Katie and the team for making it so.

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