Over at the main event in town-the NWAF, the view on the streets was that CAMRA had probably got it right with the awards. Oakham Attila isn’t bad, although personally I prefer the runner up-Elland 1872. As usual, plenty of punters were left frustrated at the lengthy queues and made do with the pub fests. Some even did both. I warmed up for the event with free fish & chips at the Metro Fish Bar-so popular that several selfish drivers parked on the pavement, even though there is a perfectly good car park. Where’s a traffic warden when you need one?
The scooping fraternity were left enthralled by the Smithfield’s tick fest. A case of never mind the quality, feel the quantity, in my view, but the line of scooping trolleys waiting to get certainly was a sight to behold. Over at the Crescent, things also could have been better. The place itself is looking really distressed now and there’s no excuse for chairs with no seats. Plus points for offering an evening menu though-very sensible during a beer festival, although obviously I didn’t take that easy option.
Beer wise, the Crescent does need to raise the quality threshold. Too many of the beers, particularly those straight from the cellar, lacked condition. Having said that, there was no excusing Hornbeam’s overhyped Blackcurrant (5.4%), which promised much but delivered little. Not being a Hornbeam fan, I held my tongue, but everyone was of the same opinion. It was like someone had poured Blackcurrant concentrate in a wheat beer. Hold on, they have-what a waste. It’s the first beer in a series to celebrate the 25th anniversary of Opening Times, a local CAMRA magazine. Let’s hope the others are a lot better. I was also struck by the poor quality of Leeds Resolution, the first bad one I’ve had from them. Coach House Cinnamon did what it said on the label, whilst Harviestoun Haggis Hunter proved surprisingly hoppy. Also good was Elgoods Wisbech Winter Ale, which was spicy and warming, a real gem for 3.8%.
Another surprise when Pictish Northern Dawn turned out to be rather bland, but Phoenix Spend Spend Spend redressed the balance. The New Oxford weighed in with its share of interesting brews, as well. The Phoenix Cheap as Chips was below par for them, as was Elland Silver Lining. However, Elland Northern Sky was crisp and hoppy and Wensleydale Sheep Rustlers Nut Brown Ale proved quite complex and satisfying. But man does not live by beer alone and, somehow or other, I eventually found myself in the Bank enjoying the pleasures of late night Talisker with the WHB. All was going well until I returned from the bar to find him fending off the attention of not one, but three, sex-starved pensioners. Worryingly, he didn’t seem to be trying too hard...