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29-11-2013, 07:30
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Drinking at the fountainhead

Last night I took an informed crash-course in Magic Rock.
Instead of me let loose at the wheel with no navigator, I joined a band of about 30-40 ale enthusiasts in a cellar bar for a meet the brewer session starring Stuart Ross, of Magic Rock.
I've drunk and enjoyed a fair few their beers like Ringmaster, Simpleton and High Wire, but have never managed some of their more experimental beers.
So I jumped at the chance of going to Stuart's talk at the Old No7 in Barnsley on Thursday night to mark the start of the pub's winter beer and cider festival.
Stuart started by giving us a bit of background on the brewery - which opened in 2011 and is based in Oakes, Huddersfield. He then handed out free samples of keg versions of his ales.
We drank tasters of and heard about Circus of Sour (3.5%), Carnival (4.3%), Salty Kiss, (5%), Magic 8 Ball (7%) Big Top (7%) before ending the show with Cannonball (5%), Magic Rock's first ever brew.
I won't spoil it by giving every detail of the talk as it is well worth catching at a pub near you. It's sufficient to say I enjoyed the explanations and description of beer-styles, some of which were new to me, like Gose.
The beauty of the Old No 7 festival on Market Hill means you can try the Magic Rock beers on keg and some on cask. But as I only had enough time for the kegs I'll save that thorny debate for another day.
If you get the chance then make a bee-line for Barnsley and do the cask/keg test yourself.
The festival runs until Sunday but it is by no means a Magic Rock take over.
There are plenty from Acorn - which you would expect given it's their brewery tap. Their Old Moor Porter (4.4%), which has been aged in a oak barrel, is well worth seeking out on the main bar.
While downstairs you can find another star beer in the form of North Riding's Kerb Crawler (4.3%), described as a "rich dark ale with a smooth chocolate taste".
Most of the breweries have two beers, mainly with one on and one waiting. For example North Riding's Chloe's Simcoe Citra (4.9%) is now very much on my radar.
Other beers available include ones from Abbeydale/Dr Morton's, Brown Cow, Elland, Fernandes, Hereford Brewery, Kelham Island, Lymestone Brewing, Offbeat, Ossett, Riverhead and Revolutions.

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A Riverhead beer on at The Old No 7

I should emphasise that this is a beer and cider festival. So there are plenty of ciders and perries on offer.
The Old No 7 is after all the Yorkshire Regional Cider Pub of the Year 2013 as well as the current Yorkshire CAMRA pub of the year.
And Friday sees an informative chat about cider from Nicola at The Craft Cider Company at 3pm.
The Old No 7 beer festival runs from Thursday, November 28 to Sunday, December 1.

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