Tuesday, 4 May 2010

Festival time

As the folks at Daleside brewery all know, it's that time of year again. The time for loading up vans with hand pumps, banners, bars, bottles and equipment in preparation for the annual Leyburn food and drink festival. Situated on the outskirts of the village of Leyburn the beer festival hosts over 30 cask ales dispensed by gravity and a separate Daleside brewery bar serving several hand pulled beers (Daleside are sponsors and organisers of the event). My duty (as it was last year) was to operate the beer festival bar whilst my wife Helen operated the hand pumps of the Daleside bar. The beer festival position I favour for two reasons. Firstly because it allows me to talk about the different beers to anyone interested, and secondly because dispensing beer from a tap is easier and quicker than pulling it from a hand pump.

But sadly this year several beers didn't make it to the festival. Secondly the cold weather and occasional rainy periods worked as negatives and activities didn't seem to have the same manic feel as last year. But busy periods came and went, and like last year the same fun atmosphere was to be had. The usual comments and questions came in from the usual suspects, "which beer is the most like lager?", "what dark beers do you have?", and then the "now, I'm looking for a pale hoppy beer, not a dark beer, and nothing to strong, a light hoppy beer?" A few liked to sample a few of my recommendations before ordering a round. Then there is always the bloke who stands there carefully assessing the beer list for a full 90 or so seconds before finally deciding he wants me to recommend one. But I don't mind as I quite like picking out beers for people to see the reaction.

Helen and Dalesider Stuart man the Daleside bar.

As for the beers themselves a great selection of classic Yorkshire beer was on offer. Hambleton's Nightmare and York Centurion's Ghost, both well respected dark heavy beers gained a good following, but Darwin's Wearside Porter punched above its weight with its bold rounded chocolaty roast grain depth. On the lighter side Durham White Centennial was as light, citrucy and floral as ever while the dry grapefruit like tang of Goose Eye Chinook Blonde proved very popular. In a similar style and just as popular the light, dry citric edged Yorkshire Dales Leyburn Shawl, hopped with the Japanese Sorachi Ace and Columbus hops. On the more traditional side Copper Dragon Challenger IPA was clean and balanced expressing English hops superbly. Classic straightforward bitters were also on offer from Hambleton ales, Acorn and Elland.

Back on the Daleside bar Daleside stout was in its good medium to full bodied, dry, roasty coffee like form. This one was designed by the mighty head brewer Craig Witty and brewed by myself. The other specials Old Lubrication, Spring Frenzy and St George's ale also sold well. But if there was one beer I was most intrigued by, it was the Tigertops Dark Oat Mild with its lusciously soft, grainy, oily texture over chocolaty roast grain. It was also the first of the darker beers to sell out.

But in the end a great time was to be had by all with dancers and piano music providing entertainment. But if anything were to go wrong we always knew we could turn to former SAS, marines and cage fighter Terry, who was always on hand to take care of any troublemakers.

Dalesider Terry in action.

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