Thursday, February 20, 2014

A pint of rhubarb & a trip to Harry's Bar

A selection of rhubarb beers from Bier Huis
Yesterday I paid a trip to Wakefield Rhubarb Festival in search of 'ruby beer'.
In truth, I knew where I was going because beyond the food tent lies Bier Huis's pop up bar.
I bagged four rhubarb beers, three made with the key ingredient from the rhubarb triangle and one from France.
The Gallic Rhub'I.P.A. according to the handily translated label is 'an exotic beer, a subtle marriage between the slightly acid rhubarb and the hops of Oceania'.
I haven't tried that 6.9% bière bête yet - but I think I know what that wonderfully flowery language is getting at after drinking the Five Towns Roo Barb, 5%, last night.
You start off with what you think is a pint of Aussie and Yankee hopped beer only for the tart but subtle rhubarb after-taste to alter your perception. The slight sourness of the key ingredient draws you back again and again, leaving you suitably refreshed!
But don't take my word for word for it, why don't you head to the rhubarb festival today and tomorrow to try it for yourself. 
The Roo Barb is made from stalks grown at Green Field Produce in Carlton near Rothwell, as is Hamelsworde Brewery's Dame Ruby Rhubarb beer, 5%.
It's been brewed by Dan Jones, who grew up in the heart of the rhubarb triangle, and features the mascot of the festival on its label.
This beer is available on draught and in bottles at the Bier Huis stall. I'm looking forward to drinking it, the french beer and the Ilkley Siberia. The latter is a 5.9% rhubarb saison which Ilkley brewed with beer writer Melissa Cole. It too has been made with Yorkshire rhubarb.
Harry's Bar boss Louise Waters with the trophy & her team
Wakey is definitely the theme of this post because on Monday I was one of many who raised a glass to Harry's Bar - Wakefield CAMRA's newly crowned pub of the year.
It was announced last month that the city centre bar had won the competition, but on Monday landlady Louise Waters and her team were presented with the ornate trophy.
Five Towns Brewery, of Outwood, also marked the achievement by creating a POTY beer. So it was only right to to start with that.
POTY was a 3.4% pale beer made with Galaxy hops. Yes, I've typed that right, a 3.4% beer from the 'nice potentate' of dangerously drinkable strong ales.
I like galaxy and Five Towns, so this was always going to win, win with me. I followed it up with the same brewery's house beer, HB. A 3.9% easy drinking sessioner, which has become a firm favourite of mine and others of late.
By now, the brewer himself, Malcolm Bastow, had walked in. But try as we might, we couldn't get him to divulge what's in it.
But later he relented and said: "It was brewed with perle and citra hops before dry hopping with Australian and American hops. A pale fruity session beer."
It is one of three permanent guests at Harry's, the others being Moorhouse's Pride of Pendle 4.1% and Bob's White Lion 4.3%. There are also guests and a rotating cider pump.
Harry's Bar. Picture: Louise Waters
Incidentally Bob Hunter, of Bob's Brewing Co in Ossett, also came to the award presentation, as did Barry Smith, of Tiger Tops. Their names were among several emblazoned on a poster commemorating the pub's win.
The award itself was presented mid-evening by Wakefield CAMRA chairman Albert Bradbury who handed over the mirrored trophy to landlady Louise. Albert revealed the contest for pub of the year had been a close run thing with The Angler's Rest narrowly missing out on the main prize.
Louise gave a 'thank you' speech and then called her team from behind the bar over to share in the celebrations. She has recently publicly stated that her 'amazing staff' is one of the reasons behind the pub's success. The others being the quality of the ale and the loyal customers.
For my final beer of the presentation night, where beers were £2 a pint, I went for another name on the poster, Ilkley Brewery's Lotus IPA. 
This 5.6% golden beer, according to the Ilkley website, is made with cascade and summit hops and has won SIBA awards. I wasn't aware of its track record when I drank it. I just thought it was a good strong beer to finish a fine school-night session in the Merrie City. And that brings me back neatly to another Ilkley Beer on display in Wakefield this weekend:
Pump clip image courtesy of Ilkley Brewery
Getting there:
Wakefield Festival of Food, Drink and Rhubarb is centred in the precinct area around Wakefield Cathedral.
Harry's Bar is a bit trickier to find. It's set back from the junction of Westgate and Smyth Street. If you are heading there from Wakefield Westgate railway station then turn right (out of the new station) head along Mulberry Way to the junction with Westgate. Across the road you will see a car park. Head diagonally right across the car park to a pizza place called Prego. Then head along the passageway and after The Old Printworks pub is Harry's Bar. It's well worth seeking out.


Timbo said...

Am jealous..missed the draught versions..will have to look out for the bottles...need my annual rhubarb fix !!

Ale Ambler said...

Hi Tim, I bought a few bottles. I'll bring some down to The Star for you at festival time.