Yesterday - a lovely, sunny day in Skipton. Maybe not the best day do be sitting in a town hall, but there you go - when it comes to beer fests, only a few have precious outdoor seating. Plus, you often get pleasant surprise. Keighley & Craven CAMRA did well - the beers on offer were generally excellent, and, as hoped, did indeed contain a pleasant surprise.
Rodham's excellent IPA started things off. I wish I could get my hands on Rodham's beers more often, because I've yet to be let down by them. The IPA is pale, with a lovely malt backbone and tonnes of citrus hops dominating both the aroma and the taste. The hoppiness stays with you long after the sip, and along with my second choice of Marble's gloriously refreshing Pint, had me pining for a beer garden again.
Still, onwards and upwards. Triple FFF's ludicrously-named (It's a song by Cream) Pressed Rat & Warthog flew the flag for ruby-accented milds; a nice undercurrent of biscuit and a decent hop aroma amongst the fruit made this a moreish pint, and Dark Horse's Best (chosen because I'm such a fan of their Hetton Pale) didn't disappoint either - an eminently drinkable best with a slightly raisin-led flavour.
The real star of the show, however, was Nethergate's Umbel Magna. Basically their stalwart Old Growler with added coriander, I really didn't know what to expect. Given that my only experience of Coriander in beers are firmly in the Wit stable, this half of dark, creamy beer didn't fill me with excitement. But after one sniff - wow. What an aroma. Malt sweetness tempered with a massively rich burst of black pepper. I expected the beer to be astringent and harsh - in reality it was smooth, with a slightly creamy hint, and only the tiniest of heat from the coriander coming in late in the sip. The aroma, however, stuck with me. What a pleasure to try this genuinely unique and well-balanced beer. That's what beer festivals are for.