Monday, June 30, 2014

Taste the difference of beer in the wood with Roger Protz in Castleford

Beer writer Roger Protz giving a tasting at The Junction
The Bloke From Hull writes:
In 2010 Maureen Shaw and Neil Midgley reopened The Junction pub on Carlton Street in Castleford. It had been closed for some time and was in a sorry state. They have turned around the pub’s fortunes, making it a place where the past is the future. They have refurbished the pub themselves, and serve superb real ales. Neil set about purchasing over 100 wooden casks from renowned Yorkshire Master Cooper, Alastair Simms with the aim to only serve real ales from wooden casks. He now distributes them to enthusiastic breweries to fill and return with amazing beers to sell in the pub. Mention must be made of the late Simon Bolderson, who was the first to believe in Neil and supply his fantastic beers which really show that “beers in the wood” have that extra something. 
Now, as Maureen and Neil celebrate four years of running the pub they have made a dream reality as the real ales served are only from the wood! That is, with the exception due to a one-off request in early June from Roger Protz, one of the world's leading beer writers, historians, lecturers and tasters. Roger had heard about the “Wood Revolution” taking place at the Junction and offered to come and lead a “taste the difference” session where beers from the wood were to be compared with their counterparts in plastic and steel casks.
Junction landlord Neil Midgely behind the bar
Appropriately, as the aromas of roasting malts from the local Fawcett’s Maltings drifted across Castleford, it came to pass last Thursday evening that 25 enthusiasts comprising of locals and members of CAMRA (Campaign For Real Ale) and SPBW (Society for the Preservation of Beers from the Wood) gathered in the snug of the Junction with Roger.
He began by outlining the history of beer in the wood and its decline with the advent of metal casks and more latterly plastic ones. First up was Gun Dog Bitter (3.8% ABV) from Wall’s Brewery at Northallerton. A glass from a plastic pin container was followed by a third from a wooden cask, both from the same brew batch. Both were very good but also very different. This was described as a traditional amber bitter with a full hoppy flavour. The wood version had oaky, dry slightly smokey flavours whilst the plastic version was very much fruitier.
After a short break to recharge our glasses Neil gave us all an insight into how real ales in wooden casks continue to develop flavours and it was then on to beer number two. Again from the same batch, Beyond the Pale (4.2% ABV), a golden hoppy bitter from Elland Brewery was tasted from both wood and steel casks. The wooden version was bursting with numerous flavours – peachy, hop resins, biscuity, vanilla hints, fruity, creamy, fully rounded and mellow. We agreed with Roger that although the steel cask version was pleasant it was a much more one-dimensional beer than its wooden counterpart. Roger’s verdict was that the wood version was “fantastic” and that the difference between the two Elland batches was much greater than that between the two from Wall’s.

Another short interval was followed by tasting the superb 1872 Porter (6.5% ABV) from Elland Brewery. This was part of the batch which received the ultimate accolade at the 2013 CAMRA Great British Beer Festival as the “Supreme Champion Beer of Britain”. However this was no ordinary champion beer. It had been aged in a whisky cask for a further period of almost a year. It was the oldest and yet the most alive of the beers tasted during the evening and numerous superlatives went round the room. Roger was heard to say “absolutely amazing”, “a revelation” and “fantastic”.
There followed some informal discussions, photos and indulgence in copious amounts of these and other brilliant beers in the wood from Ridgeside, Five Towns, Axholme, Elland, Hobsons, Wentworth and North Yorkshire breweries. Sadly, the time to leave came around all too quickly, but not before most of us had signed the new visitors book where Roger had written “Great pub, amazing beer, brilliant dedication to beer from the wood”.
What a way to celebrate four years and a dream achieved! Thanks must go to Roger for coming to lead the tasting and proceeds from the event go to his chosen charity Stop the Traffik which campaigns against the modern day slave trade.
Junction Pub:
The Junction, Carlton Street, Castleford WF10 1EE
Roger Protz :
Stop The Traffik :

Monday, June 23, 2014

Monkeyfest 8 - a bidon-full of beer for the Tour de France but a week early

The Tour de France has thrown a spanner in my beer radar.
I normally associate the first weekend in July with Monkeyfest and the start of outdoor beer festival season in Huddersfield.
But a week on Sunday Chris Froome & co will be zooming along Woodhead Road, making access to Armitage Bridge a trifle difficult.
So this year's beer event starts at noon on Saturday, June 28 and continues into Sunday.
The format for Monkeyfest 8 is a tried and tested one. A well spent £2 gives you access to 60 beers, food and music spread over two days.
The club and The Bloke from Hull have kindly given us a preview of the beer list.
As you would expect there are a fair few cycling themed beers. French hopped  Marie Jeune, 4.5%, from Ilkley features, as does with a collaboration from Saltaire and Dark Star called Le' IPA. It's a 5.6% apricot coloured malty ale. 
There is also Acorn's Sur Votre Velo, a 4.5% "modern styled well hopped straw coloured beer brewed with Halcyon and Vienna malts to give subtle flavours".
Bradfield and Wold Top both have Tour beers on while Empire have one called On Thi' Bike Pierre and Mallinsons have another called On Yer Bike.
The latter is a 3.9% pale beer made with aramis. Mallinsons have used this French hop with great distinction in the past, so I think I'll be starting with that one, especially with the brewery being just down the road and also on the Le Tour route.

But I've also got my eye on Mally's Old Leeds Road special, which I take is a nod to Huddersfield Town's old ground and the football beer they brewed for last year's festival.
Away from our home patch I note two beers from North Riding, of Scarborough. Brewer Stuart Neilson co-brewed the best beer I've had this year - on draught and in bottle - 300. So I'm looking forward to his Comet Extra, 4.8%, and Summer Ale, 3.8%, at Armitage Bridge. 
The former has cryptic tasting notes of "no idea what this beer is like but I expect it to be good. Comes from Scarborough".

Also of note are five from Bootleg Brewery - a micro outfit in Chorlton in Manchester - and Conwy Yakima Grande Pale 5%, which I think Tim wrote about on here a few weeks back.
So if you see any countdown clocks to the Grand Depart of the Tour de France, just lop a week off and join a peleton of beer drinkers arrowing down Armitage Bridge this weekend.

Getting there:
The Monkey Club on Dean Brook Road is well served by public transport. 
By train it is just two stops out of Huddersfield on the Penistone Line. Alight at Berry Brow station and walk downhill towards Woodhead Road. Cross over and head down Stockwell Hill. Go over the river and follow Armitage Road until a ginnel on the right leads you through allotments straight to the club.
There are also a number of buses that skirt both sides of the venue. Either take the 324 Meltham Service and get off near the junction with Armitage Road.
Or take the Hepworth or Holme buses (310/314) to Berry Brow and get off near the Laxmi restaurant and Berry Brow Liberal Club and then head down Stockwell Hill as described above.

Post Script: The full beer list is now available on our Facebook site, just click on the tile under the map on the top right of our homepage, alternatively search under a swift one on a Facebook.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

World Sup 2014: a fine way to drown your sorrows after England's early exit

The World Cup may be over for the Three Lions but there is a corner of a car park that will be forever England this weekend.
The West Riding Licensed Refreshment Rooms in Dewsbury is staging its World Sup.
The format is a beer from the hometown or club area of all 23 members of the England Squad, with particular emphasis on new ales from 'The  West'.
I went shortly after it kicked off on Friday and was impressed by the ale quality, atmosphere and the grub.
A non real ale friend and I arrived at tea time, and to my shame she had to steer me away from a forensic examination of the Yankee themed food menu and to tell me to get my act together and think beer.
Thoroughly chastened, I headed to to 'Platform Three' on Dewsbury Railway Station and began figuring out my ale tactics.
Should I start at the back with a 'Joe Hart' (Salopian - Lemon Dream' or spearhead my attack with a 'Wayne Rooney' (First Chop, Toc).
In the end I opted for a midfield half of Maxim's Beautiful Game 4%, which is dedicated to Jordan Henderson.
Plenty of midfield bite
Now, never mind what Alex Ferguson and Joey Barton might have said, Jordan is a winner. My friend - I repeat not a beer geek - commented on its 'sharpness' compared to her Five Points Pale 4%, a beer which I had suggested.
Not that she was dissatisfied with that, it just didn't have the necessary drive up field she was after. She later went for the 'Jordan' ale, which I think ended up being our man of the match
Next I opted for The Rooney beer, brewed by First Chop Brewing Arm, of Salford, a nod to Manchester United. The 4.2% pale hit the spot and made a perfect accompaniment to my Cadillac Burger.
As I alluded to earlier, the other attraction of this festival was the food. Parked outside in the car park was a big yellow school bus manned by the Roadhog Catering Company.
It was selling good American food at very reasonable prices and with minimal waiting times, which doesn't always happen at beer festivals. So fair play for getting it right.
After eating I fancied moving away from pale beers. There was a choice (on handpull) on the outside bar of two red ales, Blackjack's Belgian Red Red IPA 6.8% (Chris Smalling) or Moncada's Notting Hill Ruby Rye 5.2% (Frank Lampard). I went for the lower volume beer, which was a pleasing change of style and I gather it is normally only available in and round London.
Next I made a tactical blunder. Instead of finishing with the Blackjack I opted for the Phil Jagielka beer.
Usually I like Dunham Massey beers but this 4.2% stout didn't cut it for me. But I'm not complaining too stridently, it was a bit like the player's own performance - disappointing.
I'm not sure I witnessed too much gnashing of teeth when news of Italy's defeat and England's elimination filtered through at the festival. Everybody was enjoying their beer, the food and the laid back atmosphere as the music began.
After all football is not a matter of life or death...
World Sup continues today and tomorrow at noon.

Monday, June 16, 2014

A Swift One goes international

A beer festival at the Palais des Congrès in Montréal.
About a year ago decided to expand its borders. We pushed the boundaries of beer to bring you reports from places as far north as Newcastle and from the deep south of Dronfield.
But now we've really broadened our horizons with this contribution from Canada.
It is written by a friend of mine and a former Star Inn festival regular, Christopher Columbeer, who emigrated from Blighty in the Spring. 
So without further ado, I'll hand it over to our brand new and intrepid international correspondent:

By Christopher Columbeer
Beer might not be the first thing that comes to mind when you think of Montréal.
But since arriving here in March, I’ve realised that there are three things of the utmost importance in this remarkably bilingual stronghold: food and drink culture, innovation, and the assurance that everyone is having a good time. Put those elements together, and beer is inevitably at the next corner.
It’s clear that Montréalers spend their long, fierce winters just waiting for summer to come around again - and when it does, the annual Mondial de la Bière is one of the first events in everyone’s calendar. 

I headed down to the Palais des Congrès, a convention centre in the city’s old town, to check out the array of beers before going to watch England get their World Cup campaign underway against Italy.
On this warm and sunny afternoon, the first thing I noticed was the wide variety of visitors. It was generally a younger crowd than I am used to at British beer festivals, but there was every type of person you could imagine and a very international vibe about the place.
But this was no small event - in fact, it’s the largest annual beer festival in North America. With more than 500 beers to choose from, my drinking partner and I didn’t really know where to begin and spent the first 15 minutes familiarising ourselves with the venue - a large outdoor terrace with a delightful little park in the centre. 
I’ve always been a bit sceptical of beer on this side of the pond, and my first impression here was that people like it strong. There were few on the menu at less than 5% ABV, and as such there was hardly a pint glass to be seen - punters were opting for 20 or 40oz taster glasses so that they could get through as many beers as possible.
What also surprised me at first was that many of the beers seemed to be exhibited by what I recognised to be pubs and bars, not breweries. But Montréal is known for having microbrewery pubs (known as ‘brewpubs’ or ‘brasseries artisanales’) right across the city, including Dieux du Ciel, in the Plateau-Mont-Royal area, which serves a fantastic variety of its own beers ranging from cream ales, to IPAs, to fruit beers.

We kept it local with our first beer, a Double Blanche (6.2% ABV) from Montreal’s very own Le Cheval Blanc. It didn’t taste as strong as it was, and had a nice citrusy aroma and hints of tropical fruit. This was distinctively hoppy, and perhaps the one most reminiscent of my homeland that we tried at the festival.
Our next stop was at American brewery Ommegang’s pumps, where we ordered a Gnomegang Blonde Ale (9.5% ABV) and an Abbey Ale (8.2% ABV). The first was a dry, yeasty and unquestionably strong beer which neither of us particularly enjoyed - but the Abbey Ale was my favourite of the festival. It had a deep brown, murky colour but a smooth, sweet taste and a slight lingering spiciness.
I was pleased to see Québec brewers Brasseurs Du Nord exhibiting a few special versions of Boréale at the festival. This brand has been one of my best finds here, because it tastes good while being relatively cheap and very common in supermarkets. The Rousse is my favourite, but I got the chance to try the stronger Cuivrée (6.9% ABV), which had dry hops and a tea-like bitterness.
The last beers we tried were variations of Boris Slam, a pale lager from French brewer Karlsbrau, which came in three strengths: 5.5%, 8.6% and 10.5%. It was really nothing special - the weakest version was completely unremarkable in taste, and the strongest one was a bit too sweet for my liking. 
As with most things I have experienced in Montréal so far this summer, this event was carefully designed and had a great atmosphere. There were ‘cooking with beer’ demonstrations, nice smoked-meat snacks, and groups of youngsters battling it out on the terrace in traditionally French games of Passe Trappe.
Pub sport in Montréal
 I’d never seen this before, but you basically compete to sling wooden pucks through a gap in the table until you have no more pucks on your side. It looked great fun, and meant the endearing sounds of laughter and wood knocking against wood could be heard all afternoon.
Beer is definitely done differently here, and it was a shame not being able to take your time over a nicely-crafted but less strong pale ale - but it has inspired me to delve deeper into the brewpub scene and try out as much as Québec has to offer.

Post Script:
Thank you, Mr Columbeer for the Trans-Atlantic beer tour. Our guide also tells me there was no shortage of British beer on at the event. To be precise, five UK breweries exhibited beers at the festival: Hardknott (Cumbria), Purity Brewing Co. (Warwickshire), St Austell (Cornwall), Thornbridge (Derbyshire) and West Brewing Co. (Glasgow).

Friday, June 13, 2014

Fernandes Festival

This weekend Wakefield's Fernandes Brewery Tap & Bier Keller manages to steer clear of any tedious, cliched, football-themed bunk by keeping it's festival admirably parochial.

Twenty-two beers, all produced in-house, feature at the double-decker venue over the next three days, where five real ciders, an open brew day (Saturday) and live music complete the line-up.

Last night a ticketed preview event allowed guests to sample four brand new beers in the Keller, where brewer Steve Hutchinson  assisted by manager and part-time ale architect Janie Hartley, hosted a tutored tasting session.

Janie's Addiction, a sweet and moreish 4.3% fruit-bomb of an ale with added  Chinook goodness was the standout in this restricted sampling, but a more thorough examination will occur this afternoon when the following come under scrutiny:

Black Beer
Ginger Ninja 4.1%, 10 Degrees 6.0%, Black Voodoo 5.1%, Irish Stout 4.2%
Brown/Red Beer
Trinity Ale 4.5%, Dustcutter 4.1%, Janie's Addiction 4.3%
Two Islands IPA 4.8%, Session IPA 3.8%, Sunshine IPA 5.5%
Blonde/Golden Beer
Folklore 3.8%, Bramling Stoker 3.8%, Octohop 4.0%, Chinook 4.0%, Goodnight Vienna 4.0%, Whack-a-Mole 4.1%, American Pale 4.2%, Centaur 4.5%, Cascade Torrent 4.6%, Hotwired 5.2%
Speciality Beer
Wheat & Juniper 4.2%, Tropical Breeze 3.8%

Fernandes is open from noon Friday - Sunday.

After Will had posted the list it seemed churlish not to visit and take a look - and the odd sample, so I made the trip across on Friday lunchtime.
Initially I was slightly disappointed. Although 20 beers were promised, only 10 were available at any one time, but all came through hand pull and were all reasonably priced. The selection gravitated towards lighter, mid strength beers - most from the selection Blonde and Golden above. They were pleasant but only the Centaur really hit to spot for me from this selection, even though the Whack-a-Mole was doing a good turnover on the bar. The only dark beer was Small Stout, (not on the above list) and only 3%. However, for its strength it did pack a lot of flavour - I was quite impressed.
Things continued to improve when I sampled the Two Islands Ipa, which was full of fruity, hoppy flavours, but I saved my beer of the festival till last. I always (well almost always !) like wheat beers, and the Wheat and Juniper sounded interesting. It was better than that, an excellent version of the style with just a hint of juniper backing up the wonderful wheat background. I was really impressed, and just hope it hits the free trade and gets out and about so I can try it again.

Monday, June 09, 2014

Protz helps The Junction celebrate its birthday early with beers in wood tasting

Roger Protz gives beers from the wood tasting
Diary date courtesy of The BFH:
Roger Protz beer tasting to commence Maureen & Neil's fourth anniversary weekend at The Junction, Castleford - Thursday, June 26 at 8PM.

Maureen & Neil Midgley will be celebrating four years at the Junction in Castleford two weeks early.
The celebrations will start at 8pm on Thursday, June 26 with world famous beer writer and CAMRA's Good Beer Guide Editor, Roger Protz conducting a "Beers From the Wood Tasting". Don't be late!
Thereafter there will be a "Woodfest" for the rest of the weekend. 
The charity for the weekend, chosen by Roger, is "Stop the Traffik" which campaigns against the modern day slave trade.
Further information:

The Junction, Carlton Street, Castleford WF10 1EE

Saturday, June 07, 2014

A Short Saunter around Salford

A couple of days ago, I had a free day to myself - fairly rare in my life at present - and the opportunity to trip off and combine my twin pleasures of buses and beer. It was just a question of where to go. As it happened my mind was made up by a dismal weather forecast and I headed north west.

I will ignore the non beery bit of the day, lets face it you don't really want to know about transport in Wigan and Bolton, and from my co writers point of view, there was a dearth of natural history in both towns to interest them. Suffice it to say, at opening time, the weather had drawn in, it was grim,drizzling and there seemed one logical solution, go to the pub !

Since I was on the right side of Manchester, Salford seemed like a good place to go. I had not been there for a while and there are three pubs close enough together to save me getting even wetter. {If you travel from Huddersfield by train, leave the train at Manchester Piccadilly, take the number 3 free bus to Salford.Get off as it reaches Chapel St (the A6). Walk away from Manchester across the traffic lights and the first pub is in the Square on the right hand side of the road}. My first call was the 'New Oxford' in Bexley Square, just adjacent to Salford Magistrates Court. I was greeted there by Tim, the Irish landlord, like an old friend, even though it was a fair while since he had seen me. The pub is a 'must visit' place. Around 14 beers on handpull, plus plenty of foreign keg beers (no English kegs cross the threshold), and even more bottles.

Right then. Where to start. Actually it was a no brainer. Stockport Brewery was a new brewery to me, in fact it was their debut beer on the bar - 'Easy Blonde' at 3.8% was excellent; light, hoppy and full of flavour. Next up was Shin Digger brewery, another new Manchester brewery to me, with their 'Pacific Pale Ale'. A bit stronger at 4.5% but equally as flavoursome. The other pumps on the bar had a selection of interesting beers, including a Ossett, a Rat, and an Empire. Despite these I then opted for a Stroud beer, another fairly rare brewery, with their 'Beltane Dew' - brewed with Cotswold barley, and another pleasant beer. I completed my visit with a couple more local, more common breweries, and vowed to return for their beer festival next month.

Leaving the Oxford, go back to main road, turn left, retrace your steps and pass the bus stop, at the next junction turn left. Across the junction is the Salford Arms, of which more later, but follow the road down to the left and there is the 'Kings Arms'. An old Victorian pub, with plenty of atmosphere, and lots of little rooms here and there. It is owned by Paul Heaton of the Housemartins and Beautiful South fame. And he was in residence  on my arrival doing a photoshoot cum interview. Putting aside my starstruckness, I checked on the beer list. A tad disappointing if truth be known, five beers on offer of which two Cottage brewery ones. I chose one of them, 'Dana Pale Ale', a very tame 5%, and one from the local(ish) Star brewery 'Tall Toad' which again seemed to be lacking a little in taste. But if you like music and old pubs then it could be for you, who knows who may be there !

The last pub on the crawl was the Salford Arms, (back towards the main road on the left hand corner). Another revitalised pub, with two distinct rooms, the real ale being on the left hand side. Six beers on offer, and judging by the pump clips on the walls they get some great stuff that turns over very quickly. My attention was drawn to an empty pump, that Ken, the owner was pulling through. He was bemoaning the fact there was no pump clip, and was not intending to sell it until he go one later in the day. A bit of persuading and I managed to sample my third new Manchester brewery of the day. 'Six o'Clock' brewery 'Overtime' was another excellent beer, the only problem being that I had no idea of the strength. There were other beers from far and wide but I chose 'Black Jack' Light Mild to finish off my mini pub crawl.

If you are in the Manchester area and fancy somewhere different, hop on the number 3 and take a look at Salford. I know I will do again before too long.

(sorry about the lack of photos but my camera battery failed after a serious hammering early in the day !)

Tuesday, June 03, 2014

A World Exclusive in Shelley

A Bloke from Hull has brought us news of a beer premiere in Shelley.
Huddersfield's newest brewery, Small World Beers, unveiled Barncliffe bitter at the Flying Ferret in Shelley on Monday.
Apparently the news was broken on Facebook in this way:     
So new the pump clips don't arrive until tomorrow but you can be the first to try it tonight at The Flying Ferret, Shelley. Just come on in and ask for a pint of Barncliffe bitter and at £2.90 per pint you can be the in on a world first."
The BFH sent the word out, and one of his many ale pals attended and filed this report: 
"Managed to drop by & sample the new brew. Served quite cold (or was I too warm?)
It is a pleasant light bitter. Good golden hues and quite clear (through the mist on the glass.)
Not much aroma (might be my nose) just hints of something floral in the background.
A crisp clean initial taste and with a lasting bitterness through the finish.
Not startling but very drinkable - especially on a warm day (I would think).
A couple of other samplers seemed to agree - one thought they detected hints of grapefruit but I couldn't be so sure.
A pretty good start though - hopefully more to come."

The brewery is based at the Barncliffe Business Park in Shelley.
Anyone wanting more on Small World Beers should check out page 21 of the summer issue of Huddersfield CAMRA's Ale Talk.

The Craziest Pump Clip Ever

We all like silly pump clips, and can probably give our own examples of our particular favourites, in fact 'La Gran Depart' in the previous post is one of the classics. But last weekend I came across one of the daftest - it speaks for itself !!!

It is actually a sponge with printing on it...honestly !!

Sunday, June 01, 2014

A tale of kites, pies and pints

Wilsons pie and peas bookended with a 'tea' beer
Purely in the interests of quality control I made the long trip to North Leeds Beer Festival on Saturday to test an ale I'd had a small hand in brewing.
I accompanied the real brewer, Malcolm Bastow, and another friend to put Five Towns' Le Grand Depart tea bar through its paces.
Regular readers may recall a previous post about the Rooibos-infused hoppy beer we brewed for the festival's Tour de France theme.
So last weekend we headed up to the impressive red-bricked St Aidan's Community Hall to see how it turned out.
The festival had a couple of aspects to it, Leeds-sourced beers in the wood and a bottle bar downstairs, with the commemorative cycling beers upstairs.
A quick view downstairs showed the beers in the wood had been getting some hammer before we arrived late in the afternoon.
So I headed upstairs where, shamefully, I had the beer blinkers on.
I nervously pointed, over the music, to the beer which I'd had a minor role in creating. I don't know if this was out of eagerness or out of fear to see whether I had single-handedly broken Malcolm's long streak of making consistently good beers.
Despite being on gravity (as all the beers were), it had a good head. A sip of the 6.2% IPA provided a good hop hit, which wasn't surprising given the amount of nelson sauvin and mosaic hops I had mixed in during the brewing process.
Malcolm, who had tried the beer previously, said he didn't pick up the tea taste immediately and I have to confess neither did I on my first glass.
But I liked it and was keen to hear what other people made of it.
I'd heard Malcolm talking to the bar staff about how his two beers had been received. It turned out his lower volume La Gran Depart (3.9%) had been more popular.

But there had also been some favourable comments about its bigger sister.
All in all, I was relieved I hadn't trashed his reputation at a stroke.
So with that burden off my back, I could now settle down to a relaxed session. Ridgeside's Bicycle Race was my next port of call, a pleasant 4.1% dry hopped beer. Then I had La Gran Depart, which punched above its 3.9% weight.
After three pales I was ready to move up through the gears to the darker spectrum. But I didn't want to go for stout/porters just quite yet.
A helpful barman suggested Wharfe Bank's Lanterne Rouge red ale and he offered me a taste. Reds are normally not a favourite ale style of mine, but this 4.4% had plenty of body and taste. 
But I can't elaborate on the tasting notes about it being "inspired by the beers of Alsace", having never drunk any.
Next, two of us went for Ridgeside's dark beer, Silver Machine 5%, which I think was probably my favourite beer of the festival. I drunk it sitting on a bench outside under improving skies. I looked up and saw a red kite gliding over the festival. I'm told they are quite common over suburban Leeds now.
Nature notes aside, we were down to our last few beer tokens so I decided to blow one on a 6.8% hoppy behemoth from Hand Drawn Monkey. If I thought our beer had an impressive hop hit then HDM's Pamplemousse Velo took it to another level. It was billed as a mystery ale and you had to guess the ingredient.
There were a couple of clues, apparently Pamplemousse is the French name for grapefruit and there were a couple of them on the pumpclip. A very impressive beer.
But by this time my mind was on a different ingredient and foodstuff, pies.
We'd seen someone tucking into a Wilsons pie and peas outside and we couldn't resist following suit. 
Malcolm did the honours getting the food while I made another trip up the stairs for our final go at Le Grand Depart. 

This time I think I got it more. I guess "resinous hop flavour" is the buzz word for it, but in simple terms it goes very well with pies!!
The taste of both lingered all the way home. Afterwards, via twitter, I learnt the beer festival had been drunk dry and the pies were sold out too. Congratulations to Sam Parker and the Roundhay Rotarians for putting on a good festival. 
Finally I understand, from a very good source, that there is cask of Le Grand Depart in the cellar at The Star in Huddersfield. 
So I shall look forward to trying the beer through a sparkler at at Folly Hall to see if I can detect the subtle tea tones. But I might have to call in at Andrew Jones pie factory around the corner first. Does anybody know if they do takeout?