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York Guildhall
Last night I was kindly invited to a splendid beer shindig in historic York.
Malcolm Bastow, of Five Towns Brewery, asked me if I wanted to come along with his family and friends to York CAMRA's presentation night.
He was due to pick up two prizes for his cricket themed beers Ashes and Bodyline, which won gold and silver respectively in the LocAle awards at York Beer Festival back in September.
Malcolm also mentioned something about free beer and food, so I thought it was only polite to graciously accept his invitation!
The fine setting for the prize-giving was the York Guildhall. The idea was each brewer would provide his or her winning beer and each bring a party of 10.
The majority of us in the Bastow delegation started with the Five Towns Ashes, which won gold in the 4% to 4.4% category.
It was a 4.3% pale beer made with wonder hop mosaic. It had plenty of taste at a sensible ABV. Five Towns usually specialises in easy-drinking, high strength beers but this was a lowish ABV corker.
It was a really good opener, which got me ready to work up the scale. I jumped up to a 5.7% beer next with Brass Castle's Sunshine, which was a winner both in the York CAMRA and SIBA North East competition, which ran alongside the festival on the Knavesmire in mid September.
I'd been drinking slowly and had heard people purring about this beer, so it came highly recommended and didn't disappoint.
The brewer describes it way better than I can, so here is what they have to say about it on their website: "Our take on the 'winter warmer'. An East Yorks version of the fashionable US West Coast hop-forward IPA.
"Bitterness is balanced by malt sweetness in our IPA and dry-hopping rounds out the aroma. Three hop types in this one, to justify the 'sunshine-in-a-glass' claim. Just what you need to brighten a grey winter (or even summer!) day!"
It also comes in black as Eclipse, a black IPA dry-hopped with citra. So I'll seek that one out soon.
Time was running short for me transport wise, so I did my usual and looked out for a dark beer to finish with. There was a choice of Roosters Londinium Coffee Porter 5.5% or WharfeBank's Treacle Toffee Stout 4.5%. I hadn't had the treacle, so I went for that and some free cheesecake, which turned out to be a winning combination.
I should point out that the beer was self-service, so I pulled my first ever pint. I'm glad to say all that time spent idling at various bars has paid off. I must have soaked up some bar skills as there was no frothy volcano head just a tight two finger head, which meant I could saunter back to my perch for the awards ceremony without shaming myself in front of the beer cognoscenti.
The awards themselves were handed out one by one to the brewers.
The roll call of winners can be found on York Camra's site:
My abiding memory of the ceremony was the announcer telling us that 10 Norwegians had enjoyed last year's York Beer Festival so much that they have already booked their plane tickets for this year's festival (September 17-20).
After experiencing York CAMRA's tremendous hospitality last night I shall be booking my (Northern Rail) ticket shortly for their next do.
The approach to York Guildhall