My appetite whetted by a sight of the beer list, yesterday seemed a good time to visit one of my favourite pub festivals at the Navigation in Mirfield. I was not disappointed.
The festival is the second held this year at the pub and it reprised the tried and tested system that has been honed over many previous efforts. Around 30 beers were available, all on handpull, all cellar cooled, all at £2.80 a pint and all sourced from the Midlands.
This was a slight misnoma when I scanned the beer list, as there were offerings from such disparate counties as Wiltshire, Lincolnshire and Essex, none of which I would actually call Midlands...but never mind, it was a fine list.
Word must have got out, as there were a few tickers scattered about when I arrived at the festival, and it was great to catch up with some old friends. As always, it was a case of where to start - so I decided that a sensible course would be to work from left to right across the bar. Towcester Mill therefore provided my first two beers; 'Northdown' was single hopped and pleasant enough and 'Crooked Hooker', a Rugby themed beer that had more of a malty background. The left to right plan failed miserably early on, as there were a couple of beers I wanted to save till later, so I flitted up and down the bar sampling offerings from Gun Dog, Merriemen, and Tydd Steam. All were good, but all seemed a little 'samey' and safe - possibly I had stumbled across the formula that these Northamptonshire breweries all use. Fear not - I had saved the best till last.
Before I get there I overheard one of those brilliant comments that you sometimes get at beer festivals when a middle aged lady who accompanied her husband said to a slightly confused Derek behind the bar, 'I like beer, but I would like your least beery beer'. That was a serious challenge, but eventually she went away satisfield.
As I said, I saved some of the more interesting beers till later in the afternoon, and was not disappointed. Colchester 'AK Pale' was 3.7% and a recreation of a 1900's recipe. It was not hoppy, but a beautiful balance of sweet malts. I could have gladly sampled several of them, but in the interests of research I tried Grain '3.1.6'. This was 3.9% and brewed with lager malt. Another triumph. Maybe a cask lager, maybe a bitter, but whichever it was an excellent beer. My final choice would have to go some to top these two, but it did. Golden Triangle 'Mosaic City' was all that the tasting notes promised and more - one of the best Mosaic hopped beers I have ever tasted. It was so good that I stopped for another and another. And missed my train!!
Thanks are due as always to Kevin, Karen and Derek for sourcing some excellent beers, and serving them in their usual friendly manner. The only slight downside was the lack of darker beers for those who prefer that style, but the quality of the lighter beers far outweighed that. And should you have the desire to sample the whole range then 3 1/3 pints are available at the price of a pint. A festival not to be missed.