Saturday, September 27, 2014

Two out of three ain't bad

This weekend sees three beer festivals on the northern side of Kirklees, all pub festivals, and all ones I hoped to visit yesterday. Due to the help of Arriva buses I managed two, their erratic time keeping meant that the other one missed out.

Both The Shepherds Boy at Dewsbury and the Navigation at Mirfield are both on the same route fom Huddersfield, so it was easy to do the first and then call in at the second. The New Inn at Roberttown is on a different route, and is do-able but circumstances meant I had to give it a miss.

I started at the Sheps, at a festival that I was keen to visit, as it showcased 12 beers, all brewed using fresh - not dried,or pelleted - green hops. Most of them used First Gold hops from Matthew Hall's farm at Brough in Humberside, and the challenge was to see how different breweries would use the same hop to create different beers. As it happened only 10 of the 12 beers were available, but that was plenty to compare and contrast. All the beers were available in 1/3 pint and at £2.50 a pint were a bargain.

All the beers were light coloured with strengths between 3.6% and 4.5%, and all bar one that I sampled being Yorkshire brewed. To be honest a lot of the beers tasted fairly similar, to be expected with just one hop to use, and the character of the beer was defined more by the malts and yeast than the hop. First Gold is one of the more subtle hops as well, so it often struggled to make itself known.

Some of the beers were better, in my opinion, than others. I was particularly impressed by the Rat 'Yorkshire Rat 2014' - full of bitter flavour, and Small World 'Yorkshire Ness' with a very pleasant hop and malt balance, likewise with Riverhead ' Hey Green Hop'. I must admit that I was disappointed with Roosters 'Fresh Hop' which actually used a different hop, this time Phoenix, and seemed to have a strange taste.

After this scientific approach to drinking, it soon became time to go for the geographic approach as the Navvy festival was based on beer from Norfolk and Cambridgeshire, many of which were new to me.

The full list for the festival has been published in an earlier post, so I will just point out some of the beers that I particularly enjoyed. These are £2.80 a pint and all cellar cooled and handpulled by Derek, who certainly knows a thing or two about beer. Jo C's 'Norfolk Kiwi' was good, and likewise Golden Triangle 'Citropolis' - both weakish but with plenty of hop taste. Star 'Solus' was unusual and is packed with Sorachi Ace hops - a bit of a Marmite beer in my opinion. There were plenty of light beers in the 30 or so on offer, but very few dark ones but Grain 'Porter' was a welcome antidote but 5%, Likewise Milton 'Nero' which I never managed to try. Having said that there are a few reddish or brown beers in the range - and most had a more traditional taste should this be your thing. And for those who crave
Oakham beers, both 'JHB' and 'Citra' are available.

Both festivals run until tomorrow so there should be plenty of time to get down the A644 and sample a few beers that you rarely come across. Both pubs deserve great credit for sourcing the beers and supplying them all in excellent condition and a reasonable cost, I did not have a bad beer all day, despite some not quite to my taste. 

1 comment:

Ale Ambler said...

Morning, Tim.
I followed in your footsteps yesterday.
Enjoyed the Riverhead & Rat beers at The Shepherds Boy's Green Hop festival.
The Navi was its usual excellent self.
I felt the Grain IPA (6.5) was superb as was their porter.
Some good beers on elsewhere as well.
A Black Jack beer in the West Riding, I think it was called First Deal was a great start to the day.
And a 3.9%ish Arbor in the Kings Head, which was a nice finish to a good day.
Hope to catch you next week.