It is that weekend which has been eagerly anticipated by the drinkers of Huddersfield. We do not have one beer festival this weekend, but two. There is the Sportsman Fifth Birthday celebration at one end of town and at the other the Rat and Ratchet festival. I managed a sneak preview of both yesterday.
I started at the Sportsman. They promise 8 beers on the bar, all from local breweries, and all specials for the occasion. They are also advertising music and food, at various times over the weekend should this be your thing. But I was there for the beer, so what did I find ?
I started my trip down the bar with Briggs Signature Ales 'Five Down', a 3.7% dry hopped special. It was a good starting beer, light coloured, pleasantly hopped but not overly aggressive, an excellent session beer. I followed this with its stablemate Mallinsons 'V - The Fifth', another dry hopper and what one would expect from a Mallys beer. Another winner.
Time for a change of colour. Golcar 'Pentium Mild' was what it said. Darker and stronger at 4.3%, and a little disappointing. I had hoped for more flavour but is seemed a little bland to my taste. Anyway there were other beers to sample so next up was the Sportsman's own addition to the festival called 'Quaff' . Another 3.9% light beer and although pleasant was not exceptional. Empire 'Sports/sam' was a bit stronger but still light and hoppy, and a typical Empire beer.(Its strange to think that we can now identify local breweries by their taste alone !)
Riverhead 'Pink Grapefruit' came in at 5.5%, and promised much in the way of flavour, but I failed to get any of the promised grapefruit taste sadly unless this was because I had the first beer from the barrel.Anyway two beers to go - Outstanding and Sportsman had collaborated over '5' - a 5% light beer and very drinkable but not especially hoppy but none the worse for that. My last beer was possibly the best of the day though. Nook 'Hoppy Fifth' was only 3.8% and for some reason I had missed it on my trip down the bar. I was very impressed by the light beer, there was certainly some bitterness and hoppiness there, but balanced by a very pleasant malty background. I was almost tempted to have a second.
Good luck Sam and congratulations from all at a 'Swift One'. It does not seem 5 years since the doors opened at the Sportsman, and it has become a firm fixture on the Huddersfield beer scene having won many accolades along the way.
I then made my way along to The Rat to see what they could offer for their festival. They started their event last evening with a meet the brewer event and a tutored beer tasting, and today the festival proper starts with a bar full of Rat beers with plenty of old favourites rubbing shoulders with new beers. There are beers to suit all tastes (even Julie's !!) ranging from traditional beer styles to Imperial Russian Stouts, from the weak to the strong and from the almost see though to the very dark. The full list is available on our facebook page but all the beers are not on the bar at once.
I particularly wanted to try the 'Giant Rat'. I must admit I had not read the small print, as I expected a strong beer. It is actually a 3.8% English style bitter, named after the local rugby team, and an excellent example of its style - hopped with Bramling Cross - my favourite English hop. The strong beer turned out to be 'Mutant Rat', at 5% 'White Rat's bigger brother and if you like White Rat I expect you will love this. Bursting with Amarillo hops.'Maori Mouse' is 3.6% Southern Hemisphere hopped beer, subtle and very drinkable, 'Rata Nui' is 5% and similar but using different hops and more aggressively hoppy.
For the dark beer drinker 'Dirty Rat', 'Black Rat' and 'Mother Rat' are all promised, being a mild, a porter and a milk stout respectively. I tried the Mother Rat but found it a bit sweet for my taste.
There is 'A Monkey' as well. Not a Rat name - well a bit of Cockney slang here. It is the Rat's 500th brew. A 6.0% red ale with lots of flavour, and just to tempt us a little more, some of it has been sent off to be aged in whisky casks for a later date. That will be worth waiting for.
The festival starts at midday today and goes on all weekend, so you will have plenty of time to get down and try all that is on offer.
Having seen the weather forecast it seems just the way to idle your weekend away. May see you there.