Friday, September 21, 2012

Rat & Ratchet festival

Yesterday heralded the long awaited return of the Rat and Ratchet beer festival. Of course, the editorial team had to visit to check it out, well it would be rude not to. After some initial difficulties the festival was up and running, with beers served on the normal pub bar, (15) and 20 others on the makeshift bar. All were cellar cooled and served through handpumps and the quality of the ones that I tried was very good.

The beer range spread from the light and hoppy to the dark and fruity, from strong to not so strong and everything else in between, in fact, there was beer here to suit everyone's taste. Plenty of the beer was new to me, but Katie had managed to get some old favourites on the bar as well. The only question, as at most festivals, was where to start. Since it was the Rat festival, it seemed appropriate to kick off with their new beer 'Domain'. 4.5% and brewed with Marynka hops, a good start. I then stayed with the lighter beers for a while, Riverhead 'White Cloud' was full of citrus notes, Goose Eye 'Migrator' a rather too typical beer from them, and Leeds 'Samba' a delicate, pale beer.

Time for a trip onto the 'Dark Side'. My dark beer expert raved about the 'Plum Porter' from Titanic, but I started with the 'Rat Brewery 'Queen Rat'. A 5% porter, with roast malt and chocolate, and a bitterness coming through in the aftertaste. Another beer with chocolate hints was Wood Street 'Ebony Stout' but this time blended with coffee. Milltown 'Maltissimo' again did not drink its strength but for a 5.3% beer seemed a little lacking in flavour. The star of the show, at least on this short visit, was a new IPA from Ilkley brewery, called 'Chief' . It was 7% and managed to pack lots of flavours into to the beer, just a shame that the strength was a little too high to allow it a second try.

This is only a small snapshot of what is available, a second, or third visit will definately be in order to sample the rest. Scarborough 'Zest' sounds interesting, as does the dark lager style beer from Elland 'Frau Brauer'. The two beers I am really looking forward to were not on at the outset of the festival however, being kept back as reserves. Both are brewed with fresh green hops, harvested the day before brewing. One is a light beer 'Green Rat IPA' and the other a porter, 'Green & Black' from Riverhead. Looks like I may even have to make a fourth trip !!    

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