Sunday, July 14, 2013

The Junction: a fine place to meet




On Saturday afternoon I went to wish The Junction in Castleford a very happy third birthday.
It's been nearly four months since I last walked through the doors of Wakefield CAMRA's pub of the year.
That was back in March for the Carlton Street pub's beers in the wood festival. Since then more renovations have been carried out. And, in my opinion, the pub now boasts one of the finest snugs for miles around.
But a delegation from Manchester had beaten me to the front room so I settled for a cool breeze by the door.
I checked my beer list notes from last time and The Junction seems to have some favourites breweries.
Wall's, Kirkstall, Old Bear, Ridgeside and Five Towns were all on the bar again. The beers ranged from sensible 3.8 ABVs to a mammoth 10% imperial stout.
I kicked off with Wall's Gun Dog Bitter (3.8%) and then went for Five Towns Summer Ale at 4%. Both were nice starting drinks on a hot day and ones that led me up the percentage scale. 
Next up were Kirkstall's Stars and Stripes (5%) and Ridgeside's Coda (5.7%), both a nice hike up the beer gradient.
Coda was the best Ridgeside beer I've had yet. My eyes lit up when I saw the variety of hops in it. (See picture above).
The pump clips from this Meanwood based brewery are to be applauded too. There is plenty of information on them about what's in the beer or what's it's about. And you don't need your specs or a magnifying glass for the small print!
But my favourite beer of the day was Five Towns' Monster Mash. I've had this dark strong mild (5.1%) before at Wakefield beer festival and liked it. But this version had been laid down for longer in the wooden cask and the flavour grabbed you from the first sip. I wish I hadn't left it until last as I would have returned for more. 
Now, myself and Timbo are big Five Towns fans, and have written in glowing terms about brewer Malcolm Bastow and his incredible consistency.
As I was drinking with him and his wife yesterday, I could be accused of a bit of favouritism.
So I'll leave the verdict to an impartial 85-year-old real ale fan who I bumped into. He had no connection to the brewer and had just called in for a couple of pints on his way home. My recollection of what he said is not verbatim - after all I'd tried a bit of Kirkstall's mighty Drop Hammer imperial stout (10%) - but the gist was along the lines of 'top drink' or 'right pint'.
Sometimes a brief description is all you need.

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