Friday 13th March 2015 sees the beginning of the Country's largest beer festival (in fact their advertising calls it ‘The Worlds Biggest Real Ale Festival’). Not large as in the number of beers available, or the size of the venue, but rather in the amount of outlets where the beers can be obtained. It is the start of the J.D Wetherspoons Spring Beer Festival that runs through until the end of the month.
In Kirklees there are plenty of places to visit to try the beers, from The Cherry Tree and The Lord Wilson in Huddersfield, to The Time Piece in Dewsbury, via The Union Rooms in Batley and the Obediah Brook in Cleckheaton.
All the beers on offer will be served through a hand pump on the pubs bars. All the festival beers should be available at some time throughout the festival, at every pub. The knack is to try to be at the pub at the time the beer you want is on. There are no extra hand pulls fitted to the bars in addition to those generally in use unfortunately but there is always a quick turnover of the beers on offer.
This festival should be interesting for hop lovers, especially since the entire range of beers are brewed with English hops, which in recent years seem to have been overlooked with those from The Southern Hemisphere and North America being more prevalent. Some of these English hops are of the lesser known, and newer varieties, such as Jester, Minstrel and Archer along with plenty of the more established ones.
There will be 50 beers on offer throughout the festival, covering all styles from light & hoppy bitters to dark stouts and most things in between, varying between the fairly weak and the pretty strong. The beers will be brewed by many of the country's most established breweries, and a proportion of them (20%) will be brewed in Britain by guest foreign brewers, so we can see what sort of a twist a South African, Mexican (?) or Spanish brewer puts on a beer with British ingredients.
If this Spring's festival can replicate the success of the previous festivals the group have held, it should be well worth a trip to your local outlet, giving you a chance to sample some of the interesting hop varieties that are now being grown in our sceptred isle.