Slideshow: Wakefield Beer Festival 2015 review

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To celebrate the 25th Wakefield Beer Festival we sent a real ale rookie and a veteran to join in the ‘glassic’ celebrations.

Hidden away inside a bustling city centre venue, hundreds of pub-goers filled their glasses with ales brewed in Wakefield and beyond, writes Joseph Keith.

Wakefield CAMRA's beer festival organiser Mark Gibson

Wakefield CAMRA's beer festival organiser Mark Gibson

It was my first visit to a beer festival and Wakefield Camra laid the groundwork for visitors to make sure it would be an experience to remember.

Dozens of different beers were on offer at The Space, from Thursday October 15 until Saturday, with two bars lined with hand pumps for Wakefield Beer Festival.

The Waldorf Way venue was packed with punters and connoisseurs, who carefully tasted ales which caught their eye.

It is the 25th time the festival has taken place, and organisers were met with the same enthusiasm that they were greeted with in 1991 - when they opened the doors of Wakefield Town Hall for the first one.

The anniversary was highlighted by branch chairman Albert Bradbury, who brewed the Under The Clock Tower beer with Clark’s, a nod to the festival’s inaugural venue.

Upbeat barmen and women replenished my Camra-printed half pint glass several times as I tried my best to take in as many different ales.

My favourite was a throwback to the city’s Rhubarb Festival - Fernandes’ Rhubarb and Custard beer - which matched the desert flavour remarkably.

Kind-hearted ale veterans took the time to talk me through the process of brewing the beers, and the difference between the colours and tastes.

There was a good mix of young and old, new and experienced beer festival-goers, which formed a vibrant atmosphere on the Thursday evening.

The district was well-represented, as a selection of modern ales - brewed in Wakefield - took pride of place on the short bar.

While local beers proved popular with punters, they were also given a further selection of ales to sample at the long bar, with those brewed in the South East and South West of the country.

A charity stall and tombola, and homemade food also attracted visitors throughout the day.

It was an experience to remember at my first visit to Wakefield Beer Festival - and I’ll definitely be back next year.

And now for a festival veteran’s take on the event.

It all started with a half of Inception, writes Charlie Bullough.

That was the first of a fair few drinks I had at Wakefield Beer Festival last Thursday night. I had seen a recommendation on Twitter from a friend who thinks Inception is Ossett Brewery’s best ale.

There was a delegation of Ossett Brewery workers at the festival so I could compliment them firsthand on their creation.

The beer was on the ‘short bar’ at The Space, which was dedicated to showcasing the talents of brewers in the Wakefield district.

The long bar was thrown over to ales from the South East and South West but I seldom travelled further south than Kirkgate and Outwood - where Fernandes and Five Towns Breweries are based, respectively.

Funnily enough Five Towns’ boss Malcolm Bastow was behind the bar in the unfamiliar role of trainee bar manager. I asked him what was going well and he told me Fernandes Rhubarb & Custard was popular.

I’d had the beer before at this year’s rhubarb festival but was keen to revisit it before the night was out. It was a big hit with my colleague Joseph, who was new to the beer festival scene. So I shall leave it to him to sing its praises. But, in short, Rhubarb and Custard goes very well with The Space’s steak and merlot pies.

The problem for me was where to go to next in the face of such great choice. I was directed to try “something unusual” in the form of Sunbeam’s Honey and Lavender IPA. The honey really pulled through in the aftertaste.

Next up was Langham’s Hip Hop, which has been suggested to me by festival organiser Mark Gibson. He was on the money when he said this four per cent ale from West Sussex lived up to its tasting notes of “following in the modern tradition of blonde strongly hopped beers. A classic blonde beer, clean and crisp”.

The pull of more Merrie City ale lured me back across the room. I was meaning to try Clark’s Old T’Owd Dreadnought, an old festival favourite, but then I bumped into Malcolm Bastow again and the power of auto-suggestion directed me to end my session with his Nowt stout. It was drawn from a wooden cask and had more than a hint of a taste of rum. The perfect nightcap on a great event.