Its the season that beer festivals are coming thick and fast, in fact some sneak up almost unnoticed. The Navigation Beer Festival at Mirfield was one such festival, and if I had not been checking the date of another local festival I would have missed out on this one, which would have been a shame because I have always enjoyed it in the past.
Kevin, the landlord has managed to gradually increase the amount of beers that he has on, so that this time he had about 25 on handpull in the makeshift back bar, and 10 on the pub bar to give a decent range to suit every taste. 5 of the beers on the pub bar were his regular beers from Theakstons but these were augmented with a selection of beers, mostly, but not all from Northern breweries.
The dark beer drinkers seemed to be very impressed with Great Newsome 'Jem's Stout', and Fulstow '1805 Porter', which was a strange beer for a porter, light coloured with an overwhelming coffee flavour, but I spent my time working through the lighter stuff, and pretty good some of it was too.
Lees 'Liberty', with liberty and Mount Hood hops, was a pleasant, hoppy beer; as was Downton 'Apple Blossom' with the apple being more in the nose than the taste. Mallinsons 'Hubble' was what you would expect from them, a very drinkable 3.7% light offering, Great Heck 'Allan' promised great things with its citra hops but I found it a little under hopped for my liking. Woodlands 'Oak Beauty' was a mid brown beer with a nutty background, and York 'Long Daze' was dry, and refreshing, judging by the taste, I assume hopped with bramling cross.
There was plenty to keep us interested, as well as the groups who had come across on the Ale Trail and were well chuffed to find a beer festival in full swing, so much so, that one Manchester group stayed on and scrapped their original plans to sample more of the beers on offer.
Gradually I started to up the strength of the beers I was trying, most of the festival beers were around the 4% mark but there were a couple of stronger ones. Five Towns 'Solstice' was 5.5% and another excellent effort from the Wakefield brewery, (shame that 'Peculiar Blue' had been held back, as I think that is their best beer), Saltaire's 6% 'Stateside Ipa' promised a lot but in my opinion failed to deliver, but the opposite was true of my favourite beer on the bar, Coach House 'Blueberry' was light, and packed full of blueberry taste, a real classic fruit beer.
All in all, a very good festival, plenty of interesting beers to sample in a pleasant environment. Every beer was £1.25 a half and no entry fee, a splendid way to while away an afternoon.