well, I survived the trauma of another late November night of camping, and apart from a few mislaid items, losing horribly at darts and needing six hours to dry my boots out I seem to have come away from the 18th Annual Cropton Brewery beer festival unscathed. Not that I'll be able to share any photographs of said event with you - Blogger, in its ultimate wisdom, has decided I have now filled my Picasa web album (where, allegedly, my pictures are stored, even though they don't need to be) and wishes me to part with cash to upload more. It ends with off, I beleive...
Anyway, whilst I wait to start that battle I can be telling you about the beer festival at the New Inn in Cropton.
Firstly, its notable that its called the Annual Cropton Brewery beer festival - because in late April next year the New Inn will be hosting the 1st Great Yorkshire Brewery beer festival, at the brewery. Which one assumes is still the same one that makes Cropton beers, housed behind the pub. Right?
I say this because some of you may know that Cropton have rebranded themselves - as the Great Yorkshire Brewery (GYB). Except, erm, its not that simple. Last night there were GYB keg beers and a cask beer on the bar at the New Inn, along with Cropton cask beers. In the festival downstairs there were 6 GYB beers on cask (and the lager was available on lager font and cask), plus 5 Cropton beers. And, the beer festival glass (misplaced item A!) had both breweries logo's on it. The New Inn sign still proclaims its a free house but advertises Cropton brewery ales, and there are picture frames of their bottle labels in the pub, along with a selection of the bottles. So what is happening?
Well, am afraid I don't know any more than you. Cropton and GYB are both on Twitter and Facebook, the GYB website lists their keg beers and other beers (cask), none of which seem to be re-badged Cropton beers (although Blackout, on keg, was a Cropton beer) and there is a lot of emphasis on their lager. In a puzzling little tease they say that they are using new methods to brew their beers, and that a video of the brewing process and other details are coming soon. Whatever could they mean?!
Also, there is a Cropton Brewery website which mentions the brewery and the New Inn in Cropton but makes absolutely no mention of cask ales - only bottles. Finally, the Cropton Twitter account stated on 8th November 2012 "We have rebranded and are now The Great Yorkshire Brewery, please follow us
So, here goes, maybe GYB will produce cask and Keykeg beers (spearheaded by their Yorkshire lager which is making appearances in many bars around tNorth), whilst Cropton will concentrate solely on bottles. That's my guess. If anyone knows whats really going on please let me know!
So, onto the beer, and talking of the lager, I started with a generous half of that since I was very thirsty. I could have had it on cask but chose to have it a bit colder, as befits the style. It was excellent. Very tasty, and very easy to drink despite its carbonation. Wee Keefy started on the Wolf Lupus, being a fan of the maltier beers as he is.
Next up was Red Squirrel Hopfest, which was very palatable indeed, and Jo C's Norfolk Kiwi - a new brewery to me, producing a very quaffable pale beer with New Zealand hops (heres a link to their website). Next I had a pint of the excellent Dark Star American Pale Ale. In some ways I was really pleased to see it, since I love this beer, but the unfortunate downside was that it severely restricted the number of beers amongst the 80 on offer, that I tried.
I did however, manage to try halves of Fyne Ales Jarl, which is always a good hoppy light beer, Cross Bay Zenith, which was very nice but too late on to have many details, ahem, and I also had a half of the excellent Red Squirrel Redwood IPA, a perfectly balanced fruity hoppy ale that went down far too well. By now Carlos, Jake and Mole from Sheffield had caught up with us, and we were chatting with them and some of the bikers from the Hidden Valley bike rally next door.
My final half/taster was the J W King Old Ale, which was fantastic, before I settled on several pints of the Dark Star APA, which is undoubtedly why I lost at darts - not because I'm crap at darts. Which I am. The Dark Star was excellent by the way.
Food wise there was a decent range of burgers and hot dogs, and not too badly priced considering the pies were expensive last year, there was also a commendable range of ciders, quite a few of which I got to try tastes of because two of Wee Keefy's biker friends were working their way through some of the offerings and asked me to taste them. Despite this, I bet zoider drinkers Jeannette and Sue felt better than I did the next morning, putting on cold wet boots to walk across a muddy field in the wind and rain, with a horrendous hangover, to use the portakabin loos!
Finally, the music was quite good as well this year, which is good since it had been a bit hit and miss on the Saturday last year. And all the above serves to remind me that I really must try and get back on a none festival weekend to have a meal when its quiet (does it ever get quiet?) and appreciate the pubs homely charm and see, if nothing else, whether Cropton or Great Yorkshire Brewery cask beers are on - if not both...
Heres to April 2013 at the New Inn!
(and hopefully more seating, which was literally my only gripe about an excellent beer festival...)