Saturday, October 06, 2007



The Huddersfield Oktoberfest seemed to be a success.

Lots of be-bearded types ticking off beers they had drunk, and some going to extreme lengths by using laptops to record their chosen tipple's details - Who knows what they were recording?? They are the equivalent of train spotters, and in the beer world, they're called "tickers".

So, we arrived at the beer festival at about two in the afternoon. To the best of my knowledge, we left some time after six in the evening.

It all started off so well.... calculated and carefully chosen "local" produce for me, and Fred on the "mild trail" - which would reward each drinker with a free half pint for every five purchased.

First stop, the little village of Golcar, and the brewery there have lovingly crafted a honey beer, made with honey from the North Yorkshire moorland. The same moorland I was seen to be riding a horse across earlier this year. Lily Bee - A fine drop and I savoured and tasted it.

Next stop Marsden, and following on from my recent (disappointing) excursion to Black Moss Reservoir, how could I possibly pass up the opportunity to drink some Black Moss Stout. Thick, black and very treacly, like bonfire toffee, and extremely malty, unpleasant to the first mouthful, but it got better towards the bottom. I love the Riverhead's beers.

The rows of barrels in front of the bar. Lots to go at. Lots to experience. No chance of seeing it all.

Third up.... A journey back along the Colne Valley to Slaithwate (Slawit of course) and to the Empire Brewery. I've never drunk a Slawit beer before, and following the intensity of Black Moss Stout, what would be the obvious choice? Well, the brewery is called Empire and they do a bitter called "Strikes Back", so why the hell wouldn't you? It was pleasant enough, but the stir that their "Golden Warrior" was creating was making me wish I had used the force and chosen more wisely.... This was not the beer I was looking for!!!

Fourth...... Chosen for two reasons. I want to sample more beer from Elland. It's not far from my house, just down the hill on the opposite side to the Colne Valley, into Calderdale. They have two breweries, and their beer isn't seen everywhere. Which brewery first? The choice was made for me, when I discovered a beer that was brewed to commemorate the one-thousandth organ recital at Halifax Parish Church. Snetzler Special. A toffee flavoured bitter that was nice, although a little stronger but I was pleased to have been hooked by its provenance.

Fifth.... The other brewery in Elland.... Their weaker of two beers, the Mitchell Eastwood Best Bitter. A welcome drop of light refreshment at the point where my mate "The Turtle" joined us for a few beers.

Thirsty punters lining up and behaving, waiting to get served. The odd one or two complaining about not getting a full measure, but this is Camra after all!!!!

Sixth, back to the Riverhead in Marsden for their Wessenden Wheat beer. I have to say that this was unlike any wheat beer I've ever drunk and was a little disappointing. Light and fruity, very much like a pint of bitter (and clear where wheat beer simply shouldn't be in my experience) but with a very subtle top to it. Something in the top of the taste that my (by now) battered taste buds couldn't quite discern or describe made it stand out from the bitters I'd chosen so far. Not the best beer of the day for me, but not unpleasant.

Seven saw me casting my net far and wide, to snare a beer from the very small Wagtail Brewery in Norfolk. Back to the black stuff, for a drop of their Black Shuck Stout. Deliciously malty, not over roasted or burnt and very, very, very drinkable. Under different circumstances I'd have sat and drunk a few of these and also the Riverhead's Black Moss Stout too.

The Turtle strikes tombola gold winning a bottle of very cheap and nasty bucks fizz!! Note the ever present glass of cider!!

Eight..... Back up north, for a beer that tickled my funny bone. There is a place not far from here called Hebden Bridge. It's a nice place, but it used to have quite a hippy dippy, dope smoking reputation. It was known as herb-den bridge in my days!! Anyhoo, their Little Valley brewery had created a bitter brewed with hemp leaves, with the imaginative nomenclature of Yorkshire Hemp. I didn't like it... it was the fruitiest drink I had all day and it just wasn't what I was looking for at all. My run of picking winners by their names was coming to an end.

Nine.... Let's give Hebden Bridge another crack of the whip and try their other brewer, Bridestones, Oktoberfest Special. A very dark bitter. Cloudy, dark, deep and rich. Malt, chocolate, and brewed especially for the festival. not my favourite beer, but an essential choice given how much I was enjoying the atmosphere.

Ten..... Shit..... I should have seen this coming...... Thanks Turtle for coercing me into paying a visit to the "Cider Bar"....... It could only end in tears.

Where was I??

Ten.... Cider...... After tasting a few of the ciders on offer to make a better informed choice..... I, of course, picked one by name..... Fiery Fox!! I have looked it up since drinking it, and it would appear that it came from Wales.... it was strong at about six and a half percent, and by Jove it was nice.

Eleven..... I'd already called for my mum to come and collect us by now, and we were on our way out when I decided we should take a beer out with us while we waited. I am sure Fred disapprovingly agreed, and I don't even remember if he chose one or not......

Eleven..... Like a moth to a flame..... back to the cider bar........

Eleven..... I rambled to some proper cider drinkers something about wanting a cider but not one that smelled like a volcano.... they seemed to know what I was on about and promptly issued me with a glass of something that I remember being very pleasant. I don't know what it was......

On the way home. Clutching a final glass of cider, and looking across Huddersfield from the Irish Centre. A nice way to end the day.

Next stop fish and chip supper!!


I was expecting a headache today, but I feel great.... I could do it all again!!

Well done Camra, and well done Huddersfield. Well done Irish Centre, and well done micro brewers everywhere.

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