...Well, that's it. Over for another year. Leeds's beer festival seems to get more popular year on year, and that's got to be a good thing. The beer list for this year's fest really did impress me - there some great beers coming in from all over the UK, and although we love local beer, for me, the main point of a beer fest is to try something you've never tried before. And we had lots of opportunity to do that this weekend - so many thanks to the hard-working folk of Leeds CAMRA. Stars, the lot of you.
Anyway, onto the beer - and I'll try to keep it to stand-out beers only. Mordue's Workie Ticket is an award-winner for a reason - it's a great pint and stood head and shoulders above quite lot of what was sampled over the weekend - if you look up 'Great, solid english bitter' in the dictionary, this should pop up. Slight raisin in the body but predominantly toffee-led, with a nutty, rich finish, a pint of a good beer like this makes you appreciate 'brown beer' again. Really, it does.
....But it wasn't beer of the festival. For me, this was Nottingham's Rock Mild - another bitter, although on the milder scale of things. Lusciously dark, with a full, red fruit-led body, the aroma of blackcurrant with a hint of smoke coming off this beer was amazing. Of all the beers tried, this left the biggest impression, and yet I probably expected the least from it. And therein lies your first beer lesson: try everything. You may be surprised.
Onwards and upwards. I can't say no to a Purple Moose, so the ever-excellent Dark Side of The Moose was followed by another Welsh beer, Tomos Watkins's OSB, which was another flavourful bitter, full of biscuit and nuttiness, and massively satisfying.
Back to Yorkshire. Wharfebank's Slinger's Gold went by way too fast - super-easy drinking pale ale with a pleasing grassiness/straw on the nose. I'll be keeping an eye on this new brewery from Otley. Keeping things in the pale ball-park (and urgently resisting temptation to get involved with the keg of Summer Lightning), I opted for Spire's Good as Gold, which again hit all the right spots in a sherbety, pale, slightly lemony pale ale that refreshed the palate. Again, I don't get to try Spire's ales up north all that much, but I always enjoy it, and at 3.8%abv I could have drunk a lot more of it. The same goes for Goose Eye's Hop Pot, which although drew giggles at the name, turned out to be a real find, with a great grapefruit/fresh cut grass aroma and a super-pale body that only reinforced my view that the Keighley-based Brewery are one of the unsung heroes of Yorkshire brewing.
Green Jack's Orange Wheat proved to be a disappointment - neither orangey or wheat-y, but Liverpool Organic's Bier Head was another pleasant surprise, a clean koelsch-type beer that would chill down wonderfully. This was my last beer of the festival and refreshed a weekend-jaded palate perfectly.
Bring on 2011.