So the North’s (and so by default) Yorkshire’s biggest and brightest beer festival is almost upon us.
The inexorable rise of real ale and British breweries is perfectly mirrored by the growth of York Beer Festival into one of the best in the UK.
York Beer & Cider Festival 2014
The Knavesmire, Tadcaster Road, York
September 17-20; 5.30-11pm on the Wednesday and 12-11pm on the Thursday to Saturday
With such a bewilderingly large range of over 450 cask ales to choose from, the 4 day event on the Knavesmire is a genuine draw from not only all four corners of the UK but into Europe and across the Atlantic as well.
We already know of parties from Norway and the USA that booked their plane tickets as far back as January and accommodation not far after that.
York exudes a special magic that trumps virtually any other English city bar London – an allure which provides a backdrop to the beer festival and guarantees so much more to do and see when not at the Knavesmire.
The meandering streets and stunning architecture imbued with 1,000 years of history captivate all who visit and a wealth of restaurants, bars and pubs plus a vibrant nightlife provide welcome succour to weary travellers come nightfall.
Where to start
So what to look out for at the festival? Well a good place to start might be with one of the “Festival specials”.
These are four beers that may never repeated that were brewed by CAMRA members in collaboration with local breweries:
- Cumulonimbus from Brass Castle
- Citra and Riwaka Red from Bad Seed
- Franz from Tapped Leeds – their first ever cask beer, and
- Triptych from Four Thorns in York.
The sheer range of beer on offer can be daunting so here’s a handy tip. The key is to decide what beer you like usually and use the website which has lots of different filters.
These including a fantastic feature that allows you to sort all the relevant beers in by style: amber, dark, fruit, pale, speciality, spice and wheat. Make a note of a few beers to try.
When you arrive there will also be a superb 40-page programme for just 50p that will give you full tasting notes for every beer and a full colour beer style key to help you find what you want.
Once you are at the festival talk to people – share tips and information and try stuff you usually wouldn’t drink. You can buy as little as a third of a pint.
Even funkier this year is the app for Android and iPhone that you can download for free here – which gives you every beer and cider on your smartphone and allows you to use multiple filters and build up your own bespoke list of beer to try.
It also includes all the foreign beers as well as bottled beers from all over Europe and Yorkshire.
That’s right – Yorkshire has its own bottled beer selection and why not? We are the capital of Britain for brewing with over 150 breweries now situated in God’s own county.
I’d go so far as to say that I’d bet that this is the first time that over 300 draught beers from Yorkshire have ever been assembled under the same roof before. How amazing is that?
We shouldn’t forget a cider list that would put most festivals to shame either – with more than 100 carefully selected for your delectation. Go easy though – some 8% ABV ciders taste like harmless apple juice and have the kick of a mule as the evening progresses!
There will be 11 different caterers providing hot food (including vegetarian) for all tastes; a huge beer garden in which to enjoy the sun and plenty of live music to keep you entertained. Seating both in and out of the huge marquee will be plentiful.
Everything you need to know is on the festival website, including a very handy FAQs section that answers all your questions.
Looking forward to seeing you all very soon…