One of the festivals that I try to visit every year has been the Camra festival at Wakefield. This year however, with a change of venue I was somewhat undecided, that was until I saw their beer list. Then it became a 'must visit' event with a plethora of new southern breweries to sample. The decision was the easy bit, trying to locate the venue was a little more troublesome, and without our intrepid guide and the Wakefield Free bus we would never have found it.
'Space' is a basic looking ,converted industrial unit just by JCT600 on the Denby Dale Road but inside was one of the poshest looking venues internally I have drunk in, with chandeliers and as befits a function suite, plenty of space and seating. On getting settled, the next task was a swift perusal of the beer list to select a starting point. I decided, as is my usual habit, to clear up breweries new to me first. And to pick up those from a distance away initially. First up was 'Tap East' from Stratford and their 'JWB' hit the spot, a light quaffing beer with a dry finish. Other new London breweries followed; 'Moncada' Notting Hill Bitter, was a bit darker and sweeter, but again a decent beer. Their 'Amber' was not available though. 'Hackney' Best Bitter was again a similar style and equally as good.
Time to start looking elsewhere, and towards the South West. 'Windy' Tornado was a fruitier beer than I had sampled previously, likewise 'Small Pauls' Elder Sarum, with hints of elderflower, 'Isca' Gargoyles was stronger and had more bitterness, but on the whole I preferred the London beers.
There were other good beers too. My first beer from the 'Shiny Brewery' in Derby was a very light, fresh tasting bitter with loads of condition for a beer off stillage; Whitby's 'Conquest' brewery first effort, a dark beer called 'Black Death' - strange name for a beer - was a perfect antidote to the light beers, but the real star of the show was saved till last. 'Hop Studio' Spark Ginger was a great beer, with plenty of ginger but not overpowering. By now it was time to wave the white flag and retire gracefully with plenty of interesting beers left untouched. And looking at my notes, only one dark beer sampled. Shameful, I hear you shout.
Obviously this is only a small snapshot of beers available, and all came from one bar, the other bar being home to Locale beers, most of which I had encountered previously. Beer was decently priced at around £2.80 a pint dependent on strength, but I found the £4 admission for non Camra members a bit steep, but it did include a non refundable glass.
Nevertheless, all the beers I tried were in good condition and served at a decent temperature, and I enjoyed an pleasant afternoon catching up with old friends. Not a bad way to while away the day.