Readers of 'A Swift One' will have noted recently a beer list for a beer festival at the Red Shed (more properly Wakefield Labour Club) that is being held over this weekend. I had seen the list provided by my co editor, and decided to give it a look. It was a charity festival based on a theme of Yorkshire v Lancashire, and arranged under the guidance of Malcolm Bastow at Five Towns Brewery.
My first problem was actually finding the place ! Last time I recall visiting the 'Shed' it was at the bottom of a large car park. Now it is dwarfed by a massive shopping centre, but my well honed nose for beer worked and I managed to locate it easily. Even better, it was open early. The admission cost seemed a little excessive at £5 but £2 of this was refundable on the glass you purchased. Beer came in at a sensible £3 a pint across the board, and thirds were available. Things were looking up. Even more so when I browsed through the well produced programme and noted the strength of some of the beers.
Because of the previously published beer list I knew where to start, so a quick third of Whippet 'Brew No1', a new brewery from Leeds. What I had not factored in, was that it was a 5.7% stout. Sadly it did not quite hit the spot, a little lacking in flavour and a little thin for its strength, but it gave me chance to sort my next choices more sensibly. Next up was 'Pale and Interesting' from another brewery new to me, Thirst Class from Stockport. A decent 3.4% beer with plenty of hops, I followed this with another new brewery Learn to Brew, 'Young Gifted and Pale'. Again a bit of disappointment, with a shortage of hop flavour. But then things started to get stronger, and tastier.
A black IPA from Shindigger, preceded a strong mild from North Riding and they were certainly not short of flavour, neither were Quantum 'UK Light' nor First Chop 'SYL'. I was a little disappointed by Steel City 'Troika' which was overly smokey for my taste, but the real stars were the two strongest beers on the bar, and both brewed in God's Own County.
Rat Brewery 'Ratmospheric' was a 6.5% New Zealand IPA, and it supplied all the hop hit one would expect from a Rat beer and Nelson and Waimea hops, a real gem. But it was overhauled by my final beer, a massive 8.4% Double IPA from Five Towns called 'May Day' - one of my beers of the year, let alone the festival. Lots of hops, and very well balanced, just a shame about the strength which precludes drinking pints of it !
Anyway, that was the end of my tickets, so home time beckoned. I was very impressed with the festival, which it is rumoured may become an annual event. Hopefully it will, and I will be making a note in my diary for the next one.The idea of East v West also worked well, giving us a chance to sample beers from both sides of the Pennines and compare and contrast. I am not sure who produces the better beer overall but as|I have imtimated above my winner was a Yorkshire brew, well done Malcolm !