The North Leeds Charity Beer Festival 27th April 2013.
I had the chance to volunteer as barman for the Saturday afternoon/evening session of this two day event. Based over two floors at St Aidan’s Church Community Hall, just off Roundhay Road, it was just the right sized venue for this reasonably well attended event.
The festival premise was straight forward; a drink-off between the finest of Yorkshire brews and their counterparts from North of the border; an excellent idea – nothing like a bit of jingoism to get the half pints flowing.
I spent most of time on the top floor under the guidance and tutelage of Lee however due to the almost constant background wall of sound courtesy of local bands a lot of the time I simply nodded and smiled. I have found that this response works well enough for most arenas in life and beer festivals proved to be no different.
The ales themselves were very much a parson’s egg, ranging from the sublime to the average. As I was allowed to help myself as I went I was able to make an in-depth analysis of what was on offer. I was particularly taken with the TSA Double Espresso Wild Oat Stout; this seemed to be a bit of a marmite beer with repeated purchases or face pulling of the kind you get when giving broccoli to a three year old.
Another brew that took my eye and mouth was the Red Macgregor, as you would guess this too was from our Caledonian cousins. So that is 2-0 so far. To even the score I would like to bring in the Rapture from those nice people at Magic Rock in Huddersfield. A really tasty amber ale that has a kicking citrus backbite to it. The tasting notes say there is a taste of pine but the overwhelming taste was grapefruit; suits me I would rather eat a grapefruit than a Christmas tree !.
Back on a Yorkshire bent the Clash London Porter from Whitwood over at Castleford was certainly one of the best of the show. I prefer a richer, darker brew and this Porter hit the spot and, to be fair, anything that references one of the finest bands ever to play guitar is going to be worth investigating.
There were a fair few lighter Pales and Blondes on offer and while not my beer of choice I had the odd snifter of YPA from Roosters Brewing and, to even things up, the Duchess Anne from Strathhaven. You have to bear in mind that as a displaced scouser I have no geographical allegiance and so can show favour without regard of county pride.
It was great to see such a diverse crowd, there were a lot of young, media-type groovers and shakers (look, I am 49 now-anyone under 30 falls into this bracket) to contradict the usual negative stereotypical view that Joe and Josephine Public have about ale enthusiasts. A good high proportion of women as well although to be fair I think some of them may have been there under sufferance and I was asked on a couple of occasions if I had anything ‘girlie’. Found that Seven Giraffes or Fair Dinkum was usually well received in response to such a request although my almost evangelic zeal for the Double Espresso brew did pay off on a couple of occasions, an enthusiasm to convert I would later regret when it ran out; one of the few casks that did.
After a six hour shift, numerous beers, two pork pies and as many blues bands as I could throw a drumstick at I made my farewells and left. Home to annoy the wife and a rather sleepless night; wonder if there was something in that coffee based beer?
Thanks to Sam, the Rotary Club of Roundhay, the sponsors, the brewers and all the other vols. for a great festival.
Finally a ‘hi’ and plug for Beer Huis – for all your beer needs in Osset