Yesterday saw the first day of a weekend beer festival at The Shepherds Rest, at Sowerby Bridge. The pub is owned by Ossett brewery, and the festival followed the blue print of a previous Ossett festival at The Three Pigeons in Halifax. All the beers (bar two) were sourced from breweries within the HX postcode area, and on my visit one from each brewery was available - to be honest I had not realised there were so many breweries in the area.
Unfortunately time was a little short, so it was a case of selecting the beers I had not sampled before, so offerings by Elland, Little valley, Slightly Foxed and Stod Fold were overlooked in favour of newer, smaller breweries.
I started with Bridestones ' New Beginnings'; at 3.5% a pleasant session beer, (before you all write in I know Bridestones have been brewing for some time), and followed this with Oates 'R.O.B.'. This was apparently brewed in collaboration with three Lancashire Camra branches and had an antiseptic taste that was a little off putting. I suspect it could have been my nemesis, the Green Bullet hop, but I cannot confirm.
This was succeeded by my only dark beer - Norland 'Moorish Mild' which was pleasant but unremarkable. However, the same comments cannot be levelled at Vocation 'Bread and Butter' - an excellent 3.9% bitter. Full of American hops and a clean, fresh taste and an excellent offering from a brewery who brew consistently good beers and have hit the ground running. I was also impressed, for other reasons with Landlords Friend 'Alf' 'n' Sam'. I have only sampled one of their beers before and I found that very home brewish but this was light and soft, with no discernible hop flavours but very drinkable.
Nevertheless, I saved the best till last. Accidentally, as it happens because it was the strongest beer on the bar at 5.1%. Fighting Cocks 'Nomad' actually comes from over the border in Burnley but I will forgive them that. The beer is superb. An American style IPA with plenty of hop flavours and fresh fruit tastes coming though every mouth full. If this the first attempt for a new brewery I will be waiting with interest for their next beers.
The festival, as I said, runs through till Sunday evening and the 12 pumps on the bar have replacement beers from each brewery when the first beer runs off. At £2.80 a pint and thirds available as well, it will not break the bank. Guess where I will be going on Sunday !