Our esteemed editor’s week off has left me with a bit of catching up to do, so I’ll not waste words this week.   A couple of weekends ago I visited the Cloudspotting Music Festival (near Staidburn in Forest of Bowland) for four days, it was my second visit to the festival and this year was even better than last year.  Three full days of great bands, relaxed atmosphere and good food and beer.   Musical highlights were King Creosote, Emma Pollock (ex Delgardos), The Gene Dudley Group, Good Foxy, Jeremia Ferrari and Johnny Common among others.  Honest Crust Pizza returned with some of the best pizzas I’ve had in a long time and a nice line up of session beers saw the weekend flow along nicely.  The beer came from Bowland, Lancaster and Hopstar breweries, mainly on the pale side, all at a reasonable £3.50 a pint.  Bowland brought Cloudspotting (aka Festival), Hen Harrier, Pheasant Plucker and Summer Ale to the party.  Lancaster added the Amber and Blonde from their core range.  Hopstar finished off the line up with Saaz, Lancashire Gold and Summer Daze.  The ciders ranged from Rhubarb to Strawberry to a number of classic apple varieties and having sampled a few were nice and refreshing at around 5.5%.  Having tried seven of the nine beers, none were real jump out “wow” beers, but all were good refreshing session ales you could drink all day, and over four days that is just what you need.  Family or not, a festival I’d highly recommend still and hope to return to next year.

The weekend just gone afforded me a longer visit to the Grayson Unity near the town hall in Halifax.  A late afternoon into evening session with my family plus parents sitting in the sun trap yard was most relaxing, and we were all made to feel most welcome, ensuring continued wallet emptying across the bar as we sampled the well kept cellar and my wife drank them out of Kraken rum.  Strangely virtually everyone who came into the yard we knew directly or indirectly through people who joined us or were chatting to.   Over the afternoon we enjoyed among others Vocation Search and Rescue and Heart & Soul, Bad Seed New England IPA, Elland Nettle Thrasher and Mad Hatter Tzatziki.   The first four beers are fairly regular beers, some more hoppy than others, but nothing that would shock your normal craft / real ale beer drinker.  However the Tzatziki is one which is a real marmite beer.   Named after the greek sour yogurt, mint and cucumber dip, it’s flavour really it true to it’s name, some would say too close to it, I like my unusual beers, this one was sliding quite close to “it’s not working for me”, but didn’t quite make it there.  I was told it was going well with those who did like it.  The bar is a great addition to the Halifax scene and is already part of the beer tour in the town for many people, I’m looking forward to the new bar opening opposite the bus station sometime soon to add to this list.

Mid week I visited York for my daughters 13th birthday, and got to visit a good number of new pubs through the day.     One pub we revisited was Evil Eye, more for the cocktails than the beer and the Long Island Iced Tea was satisfyingly boozy!   We started the day in Nook for some lunch, the beer range was limited to bottle craft beer (it is marked as a cafe bar), my Brewdog Punk IPA a decent start to the day.   Later in the day we popped into the Eagle and Child, Leeds Brewery’s food and drink offering near the Minster.  They offer the host brewers beers with a number of guests.  I sampled the Monsoon IPA by them, finding it nicely balanced beer with plenty of hops and at session strength one that could have been repeated, with some beautiful glass design.  Post shopping we went into Mr P’s Curious Tavern down the main shamble as you walk away from the Minster.   The bar serves tapas style food and their boozy apple crumble was small but delicious.  They sell 3 continental beers, craft bottles / cans in the fridge with a range of spirits, myself settling on a couple of rums whilst there, that and gin becoming an increasing part of my alcohol diet.  The last pub of the day was Pivni located near the market.  With five to six beers on pump and a similar amount on tap, there is plenty of choice before you start on the fridge.   The beers seem to rotate through a wide range of brewers, but had Buxton, Magic Rock among others on the day, I tried three beers whilst there (memory fails me on names), two cask, one keg and all were good.  

Over 2 days and 1 music festivals drinking I’ve not found a less than good beer, that says a lot about rising quality of beer across the board, which can only be good.