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20-06-2010, 08:13
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It must be the local festival season as in addition to the Navigation festival, the Barge & Barrel at Elland has also been holding theirs this weekend too. I called in for a couple of hours on Saturday to see how it compared.

The Barge is the pub where I discovered real ale so it alway holds a soft spot for me. A large multi roomed building on the roadside with 10 real ales on offer usually, and one of those places that has Abbeydale 'Moonshine' ,and Phoenix 'Wobbly Bob' on as regular beers. It should be one of those places I visit regularly but it has fallen out of favour with me recently with its choice of guest ales which I generally find a disappointment. Maybe this festival will change that.

I have been to festivals there before and the set up is as before, with one room made into a makeshift bar with 10 beers on handpull here to supplement those on the bar, so all in all there are around 16 festival beers available at any time. The list shows 30 so it is hit and miss if the beers you want are on the bar on your visit.

This time I was fairly lucky, and there was enough to keep me going for the time I was there, but not enough to interest me for a full afternoon session. Picking up the list, it was obvious that most of the beers came from the larger, more established breweries, and it was difficult to find something a bit unusual to start with but happily I came across a new beer from the recently opened 'Wharfebank' brewery which was blonde and hoppy, so settled with a half I set about searching the list. When I had discounted the beers that were already finished and those not yet available, I had a selection of 7 that I thought were new to me. Since we were in the throes of the World Cup, but not for long if England's debacle against Algeria was anything to go by, most of the beers had either football or patriotic themes.

I followed up with Brains 'On The Head', a bit too malty for my liking, but a typical style of beer for the brewery; Ufford 'Union Jack', a bit tasteless; Mauldens '3 Lions', instantly forgetteable; likewise Hambleton 'Kick Ass'. By now I was getting a bit desperate. The best beer I found, apart from the Wharfebank was Batemans 'England Expects' which tasted like a Batemans beer, those who are familiar with the brewery with know what I mean, but at least it did have some taste. I decided then to give up the ghost, leaving offerings from Greene King and Holdens untouched.

In many ways this was a carbon copy of the Navigation festival of the previous day. It had potential but in my opinion failed to deliver, (sounds like England again!!). Nevertheless, for the passing punter you could collect a few new beers if this was your thing, or while away a couple of hours sampling beers from all over the country. The quality of the beer was good, the price not excessive, and the food excellent. Just wish they had gone the extra few yards and taken a few more risks with the beer selection, it would have been well worth the effort.

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