|A familiar sight at The Star. All pictures courtesy of Gingerbeerking|
Cliche has it that absence makes the heart grow fonder.
I won't bore you with the tedious non-beer reasons why I've been absent from Huddersfield pubs for the last few months, but last weekend I finally got my act together and got a taste of what I've been missing.
The lure of The Star's beer festival drew me back to town and also provided an opportunity for long-overdue visits to The Rat and The Grove (of which more later).
I was curious to see how the festival would work in the absence of the marquee bar, particularly on a busy day like Saturday.
Personally, I liked the extra hand-pulls in the main bar and no tickets format. A nominal £2 charge got you a glass for the festival bars and a programme. £1 of which was refundable if you gave your glass back.
The festival bars were in the recess to the right of the main bar. It was like the Mallinsons mini-festival event a few years back but with choice from far and wide. Timbo has covered this elsewhere on the blog (see his last two posts) so I'll just pick out a few of my highlights: Kent's Citra (as recommended by Adam on the bar) and Loch Ness's Saaziness (as suggested by Timbo). Both terrific beers. I enjoyed a good session with the Gingerbeerking and it was well-kept beer all the way.
Yes, the pub was more crowded than usual and we had to stand for a short while, but it was pleasantly busy rather than chock-a-block. We were all served promptly by Sam and her skilled team.
We soon grabbed a table and sat back to admire the well-run set up.
I'll be interested to see whether this is the new template for all future Star festivals or just the winter one. Whatever the format, I'll be there: good service and great beer - it's a winning formula.
It was difficult to leave the festival but we managed to tear ourselves away and headed up to The Rat and The Grove for pint-stops.
The Rat seemed to have a function on because there was a fantastic spread of food on. After both opting for Abbeydale's Wilderness we were told to help ourselves to food. I apologise unreservedly for monopolising the beef and onion sarnies. They're my favourite and you can't beat a bit of topside!
Away from the culinary delights, the taunting pole revealed Jarl, which pointed the way to more ales from Fyne in The Grove.
By this point in the evening we were pushed for time, so Gingerbeerking quickly ordered Thornbridge's McConnel's vanilla stout, which met his immediate approval.
As normal I dithered over my choice but mercifully the bartender's in The Grove know their beers and they soon put me on the right course: thirds of Mallinson's Hop Tzarina and two from Fyne Ales.
The Fyne beers were Superior IPA and a brown ale named after guitarist Richard Benson.
Alas time defeated me mid glass on the latter, and I legged-it for the train mumbling the words, 'Got to go, the beer is too good in Huddersfield'.