The Great British Beer Festival is something I’ve seen advertised but never managed to get to – we’ve usually been on holiday. However, it coincided with a trip to London this year and although I hadn’t planned on going, a few friends were meeting up for an ale so it seemed a fun destination.
Beers (in order of imbibement, breweries in brackets):
- Lees Bitter (Lees Brewery, Manchester)
- St Lawrence Ale (Yates, Cumbria)
- I Can’t Believe It’s Not Bitter (Oakleaf)
- Lakeland Gold (Hawkshead)
- Shugborough Farmer’s Half (Titanic)
- Cat’s Whiskers (Whittington)
- Summer Ale (Arkell’s)
- O-Garden (Otley, Glamorgan)
I think out of that lot, my favourite was “I Can’t Believe It’s Not Bitter”, which was one of those I got purely on name for the amusement value
Meanwhile it was great to finally meet Subhi after about 10 years of talking online, plus we bumped into Matt and his folks! I finally got round to joining CAMRA, and we finished the night off with a Turkish dinner somewhere up Earl’s Court to soak up the remains whereupon I fell asleep in the restaurant (well I had been up since 5:15am…!).
A lovely evening, but I think next time I’ll get to the GBBF a bit earlier – it was hellishly busy with folks who’d got there from work when I arrived at 6:30pm.
I had a pint in O’Donoghue’s tonight, at the top of George Street in Wakefield. For a long time it was a music-pub stalwart of Wakefield until it was utterly bloody destroyed by the bloke from the pub next door. Anyway, it’s got a new landlord and landlady. They’re really nice people, and seem to want to return it to its musical backdrop! Hurrah! Sadly it’s a bit empty right now because nobody knows it’s open, but THIS WILL CHANGE
Aaaaaanyway, they’re booked up for musical treats all the way to the end of April, and next Monday (17th March) they’ve booked Ryan and Alice for St Patrick’s Day musical fun. Get down there, the beer’s good, and the atmosphere will most probably be wonderful.
And they asked when Bored Housewife will be available for a gig. Seriously.
Last Saturday we’d got an evening with friends, so I suggested Fernandes Bier Keller in Wakefield. This is a new venture opened by Ossett Brewery and used to be a brewshop until the takeover.
Real-ale connoiseurs in Wakefield will be familiar with Fernandes Brewery Tap itself – it’s a microbrewery which is one of the town’s best-kept secrets and is reached up a hidden stairwell round the back of Marsh Way Roundabout (in Avison Yard, behind Red Chilli II). They’ve usually got quite a few good ales on so we had high hopes.
The Bierkeller itself is reachable via the same small stairwell, and once inside you’re greeted by stone floors and quite a low ceiling! There were a good range of what I’d call ‘ubiquitous’ continental beers such as Staropramen, Franziskaner and Frambozen alongside some others that I’d not seen anywhere else; the price was a bit over what I’d expect to pay (one of our friends suggested it was actually more expensive than drinking the same brew in London). There’s also a good range of bottled Belgian ales, and smorgasbord snacks are available if you happen to be peckish.
It wasn’t overly crowded, the staff pleasant, the clientele animated but not chavvy (a nice byproduct of being on the opposite side of town to Westgate), and the bar was open until 1am. We’ll be visiting again, especially since it seems to be frequented by many of the friends and acquaintances who we’ve seen in the now-defuct O’Donoghues.
If headaches and hangovers are a measure of how good the previous night was, yesterday’s score at Keighley & Worth Valley Beer and Music Festival was spectacular. We left the house at around 10:30am and got to Keighley for the midday steam service, stopping off at Haworth for fish and chips then getting up to Oxenhope shed (including beers en route of course – the train bars were excellent!). Colin, Si, Howard and Sarah joined us on the service from Leeds to Keighley where we had jelly babies and took photos.
We were presently joined during the day by George and Lizzie who’d come over from Hebden Bridge, Ruth and Brian who’d had a 3-hour journey from Kettlethorpe (!), Jem and Lee (you can’t keep that man away from a festival if it’s got trains and beer), and many other friends who we bumped into. The kids were absolute stars, and had great fun dancing to Welsh-T Band.
Looking at my programme (where I usually number what I had and when) I managed to get through:
- Spotland Gold (Phoenix, Heywood)
- Tawny Bitter (Cotleigh, Somerset)
- Definitive (Durham Brewery)
- Gold (Green Mill, Rochdale)
- Good Ship Leonard (Newby Wyke, Lincs)
- K&WV Festival Ale (Goose Eye Brewery, Keighley)
- Cornish Knocker Ale (Skinner’s Brewing Co, Truro)
- Hornbeam Bitter (Hop Back Brewery, Wiltshire)
- Mid Autumn Gold (Mauldons, Suffolk)
- Lush (Hopstar Brewery, Lancashire)
- Hop Pickers Gold (Mayfields Brewery, Herefordshire)
- Carousel (Southport Brewery, Merseyside)
- Eden Pure Ale (Sharp’s Brewery, Cornwall)
- Pacific Bitter (Bank Top, Bolton)
- Blonde (Saltaire Brewery, Shipley)
- Arizona (Phoenix, Heywood)
- Rail Ale (Old Spot, Cullingworth)
The trip back was a bit hazy for me – I was utterly hammered according to Nicky and only just managed to hit the bench when I was sitting down. Because there were so many of us coming back to Wrenthorpe the cab wouldn’t take us, so we ended up getting a minibus from Leeds City Station back home (which actually worked out cheaper – thanks Fleet Taxis!). We had Chinese food for tea. I can’t remember any of it, but I assume I ate something since I didn’t feel too hungry this morning.
The hangover is almost gone now – photos of the day are here. Great to see so many old friends, and thanks to KWVR for a great day out!
If you’re looking for something interesting to do this weekend, you could do a lot worse than drop in at KWVR Music & Beer Festival. We’ll be there on Saturday afternoon with some of the Fotopic crowd alongside other friends.
The beer festival annually takes place on the Keighley & Worth Valley Railway, which is about 40 minutes away from Leeds Station via train. It’s kid-friendly and a good family day out.
There are upwards of 100 beers on (including lots of prize-winners), spread over several on-train lounge bars as well as the massive Oxenhope shed (pictured) which also features live music alongside hand-pulled beers, perrys and ciders. There will be some bottled beers and lagers for the pansies but not Fosters or any of that cack.
Both steam and diesel-pulled trains are running, with two bars per train. Winner of the local CAMRA Summer 2007 ‘Pub of the Season’, the on-train bars will be available all day Friday, Saturday and Sunday, plus Friday and Saturday evenings. A free evening bus service will operate between Oxenhope and Hebden Bridge.
Music: Herr Jens Oompah Band (5pm to 7pm Friday evening), Martin Sharpe’s Mighty Seven (New Orleans Jazz – 8pm to 11pm Friday evening), Blues Kings (2.30pm to 4.30pm Saturday afternoon), Welsh T Band (5pm to 6.30pm Saturday afternoon), Doctor Busker & the Dorset Rats (8pm to 11pm Saturday evening), plus others still to be confirmed. Folk dance sides will perform at various locations on the railway and informal acoustic music sessions will take place on the trains (although I reserve the right to gaffer-tape Lee’s gob shut if he starts singing in Welsh again).
Photos from previous years here and here, and there’s a Facebook group for it, if you’re that way inclined.
Last night saw me popping off to the Wakefield Beer Festival, which (as seems to be usual now) took place at Lightwaves Leisure Centre. I arrived before any of my compadres so managed a few more than usual, half a pint of each of:
- Magna 800 (Wapping)
- Ale To The Tsar (Fernandes, Wakefield)
- Best (Ludlow Brewery, Shropshire)
- Idle Chef (Idle Brewery, Notts)
- Grasshopper (Westerham, Kent)
- Chameleon (Kelham Island, Sheffield)
- Woodcote (Hammerpot, West Sussex)
- Scotts 1816 (Copper Dragon, Skipton)
- Best Bitter (Ballards, Hampshire)
- Seasider (Ramsgate, Kent)
- Bishop’s Farewell (Oakham, Peterborough)
- OSB (Oldershaw, Lincolnshire)
- Takeout: Pater 6 (Sint Bernardus, Watou)
I was joined after the fourth by Lee and his friend Jerry, some odd nutter of a gentleman we’d never met before appeared around the fifth (he wah’d about his wife, then disappeared), and around the sixth Colin and Howard turned up. Howard flaunted his ginger beard in our general direction, which was nice.
Lightwaves is an odd venue for a beer festival – the main hall has no natural light, and gets very very stuffy during the course of the day owing to a lack of ventilation, plus of course the odour contributes to the general atmosphere (I pity the poor sods who’ll be wanting to use the changing rooms where the nearest toilet was – it stank).
A nice touch this year was the cheese stand provided by Cryer & Stott, my favourite cheesemongers who had some excellent Fountains Gold and the ubiquitous Yorkshire Blue.
I got a nice email from the guys at Keighley & Worth Valley Railway yesterday asking for permission to use some of my pics from last year in their publicity for this year’s festival. Of course I said yes – after all, me and Nicky are members of the line (and need to enrol the kids this year now they’re old enough).
The Beer Festival takes place at the end of October, and KWVR have a page about it here. There’s also a Facebook event set up for it.
We’ll be going on the Saturday.
Last Sunday we went back to KWVR for more beer, so I could finish off the tokens (well hey it’s a good excuse) and we could get membership of the line. Photos here.
Beers (there wasn’t really much left after Saturday):
- Sarah Hughes ‘Surprise‘
- Jennings Brewery ‘JSB‘
- Enville Brewery ‘Enville White‘
- (didn’t note brewery) ‘Harvest Pale Ale‘
- Newby Wyke ‘Kingston Topaz‘
- Can’t remember this one, I was that good at noting down!
- Oakham Ales ‘JHB‘ (on the train) x2
As it is, it’s a good job that the beerfest was last weekend since the Doctor’s told me to lay off drink and given me some coproxymol (well, after sticking pins in me again – acupuncture’s not exactly pleasant but at least there was ClassicFM to listen to). I’ve also been warned that driving can continue to knacker my shoulder so should lay off for a couple of days while the drugs and acupuncture do their work: this now means I’m working from the Fotopic office for a bit where my posture is at least reasonably sensible.
The boiler at home is sounding like Concorde landing although it doesn’t seem to have impaired its ability to heat water. This is the point where I wish we’d replaced it this year, yes?