Friday, October 14, 2011

Huddersfield Beer Festival 2011

Managing to drag myself away from the 'Spoons festival, last night I made it to the Huddersfield Beer Festival. The venue is one of the better Camra festival venues about, plenty of space and plenty of seating, with the beers racked at one end of the hall, and stalls, including one selling some of the most superb curries available at a festival, at the other.

The doors opened at 6pm and shortly after the usual suspects were gathered around their tables scanning the beer lists for the new and unusual on offer. And we were not disappointed. This years list had a bias towards the South East with plenty of beers that are rarely seen in Huddersfield, including some from London and a good selection of local beers to make up the numbers. There was a decent balance of the old and new too, for those who were not just tickers, but wanted to sample their favourite beer. Admission was £3, or £1 to Camra members, and beer prices were reasonable, at around £2.50 a pint. Beer was available in pints, halves or thirds, which made life a bit easy for those of us wanting to sample a larger selection (over 100 available in all). Cider drinkers were also well catered for with over 50 available.

So what did I find to drink. As usual, my first stop was a Mallinsons 'Munchies Mirlees Tale', (strange name!), and as usual they did not disappoint. A 3.8% beer full of Mallys hop flavours, giving the rest of the list plenty to live up to. It was then time to start sampling the Southern stuff. Abigale 'Samphire' was a typical Kentish beer, brownish and with no disernable hop character, but East London 'Pale Ale' was an excellent beer from a brewery that has only brewing a few weeks. If this is the standard of their other beers, then it looks like London has another great brewery. I followed up with offerings from Canterbury Brewers, and Canterbury Ales, both acceptable but neither outstanding; Botanist 'Humulus Lupulus' was a disappointment; I enjoyed Tonbridge 'Blonde Ambition' and Royal Tonbridge Wells 'Golden Ticket' was a good, stronger beer.

It was heartening to see the venue filling up during the evening, not, as I expected, with the usual local beer enthusiasts, but with plenty of young people, both male and female, eagerly trying out what was on offer, and just as enthusiastically talking about what they had sampled. They are the beer drinkers of the future, and those that will protect the efforts of the brewers into the next generation, I hope they were impressed.

Strangely, throughout the whole evening, I never sampled a dark beer, nor one from a local brewery except for my first, but there is always today to rectify that. Out of the small selection I tried, what was the best? Maybe the Mallinsons but Brodies 'Citra', a 3.1% beer from another superb London brewery ran it very close.

Just a word of thanks to Michael Robinson, the local Camra chairman, Rob Allen, and Carl Brabbiner, for their interesting beer selection, all the volunteers for their efforts in staging the festival, and all at the APNA venue for allowing it to be used.          

Sorry there are no photos, but I have discovered it is usually better to charge the camera's batteries before trying to take pictures !!


Leigh said...

Never heard of East London - if you say it's worth tracking down, then I will do!

Timbo said... a new(ish) brewery and if their beers taste as good on a bar as this did on stillage should be another welcome addition to the capitals breweries

Thechair said...

Hi Tim

Good to see you in the Star after my Sat visit to the Fest. I agree..... my head was in my hands on Friday eve as I agonised over what to leave off my selection...still its a very nice problem to have... Sadly no room for Mallisons on this ocassion, but I agree Brodies Citra was excellent, and I did try the darks, couple of milds and Porter's all exceelent, but the Royal Tunbridge Wells Beau Porter was the best from those tried.
At the moment hoping I may be back in Huddersfield on Friday 28th, may see you then.

Rgds Rich