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29-05-2015, 09:01
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This weekend sees a plethora of beer festivals in Yorkshire, so many that it is case of what to leave out, rather than which to attend. However, it was no contest when it came to the Navigation festival at Mirfield. It is a must attend in my calendar, and fortunately for me, it starts on a Thursday.

This time the theme is beers from Northamptonshire. When I heard this I was a little unimpressed, I was sure that there were very few breweries there, and those there made beer which was not exactly to my taste. That shows what I know about beer !

We had early access to the beer list, courtesy of BFH, and I soon realised how wrong I was - at least on the brewery front - I was missing five on the list and there were several that I had only rarely encountered . So I made my way there in quiet anticipation.

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The festival was almost fully set up on my arrival at 1pm. At that time I was the sole punter but it did not matter, I selected my seat, set to work with the beer list, and ordered my first choice. Towcester Mill 'Bell Ringer' was a very pleasant beer, golden and not too hoppy, and the malty background set the tone for the afternoon. I followed this with a 3.8% session beer, Kings Cliffe '5C' - another golden beer, with a subtle hop background and one I would have happily stayed on all day .....but other beers beckoned me.

I thought I would change styles a bit, and next chose a couple of beers brewed entirely with English hops. Hart Family 'No1' was 4.1% and tawny coloured, Kings Cliffe 'No10' was lighter and had a more pronounced malty taste. The malty background seemed to be a theme for my next selections. The first one being Phipps IPA. It is not really an IPA in the style I expected, but it apparently brewed to an authentic 1930 recipe, and has a lovely balance of hop and malt, leaving a sweet malty aftertaste. So far the best beer I had encountered. I came across the same aftertaste in Merrimans 'Merri Weather' - good but the IPA just shaded it.

By now I was warming to the task, and the pub was filling up nicely, and the craic had started. And I decided it was time to try some more of the new breweries. Nene Valley 'Release The Chimps' was an American hopped IPA style - not as assertive as some of the northern versions of the style, but very drinkable all the same; likewise the same breweries 'Big Bang Theory' - the strongest beer on the bar at 5.3%.

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By now time was catching up with me, and time for two more beers. Silverstone 'Slipstream' reverted to the weaker,session style beer, and I chose Phipps ' Steam Roller' as my swan song, with its lingering caramel aftertaste.

Those observant readers will note that I never tried a darker beer. That was a personal choice, since out of those on offer, only one was new to me, but the dark beer afficionados there, did confirm that those they encountered were excellent.

With all beer being £1.40 a half across the board, and no entrance fee, this is a festival that will not break the bank, It continues until Sunday evening, or until the beer runs out. It is a great credit to Kevin, who set the festival, and Derek, who is the dedicated bar man. I, for one, cannot wait to see where the next festival comes from, and have learned not to go to it with preconceived ideas. Beers from Northamptonshire are excellent, if not as hoppy as I am used to.

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